The Ridgewood boys and girls came away with the best team performances of the day while Indian Hills senior Corinne Barney and Old Tappan junior Steven Hatano posted the fastest runs of the meet at the Bergen County Group Championships on Saturday at Darlington Park in Mahwah.
The top two teams in each division plus three wild cards qualify automatically for the Lou Molino Bergen County Meet of Champions next Saturday, also at Darlington.
The Ridgewood girls, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey, made a statement today which resounded loud and clear for the rest of the county -- and for that matter, the state -- to hear.
While resting three of their top seven runners -- sophomore All-Stater Camryn Wennersten as well as juniors Sarah Policano and Claire Hamlet -- the Maroons still jammed five runners into the top 12, claimed their second straight Varsity A title with a 19:56.2 average, placed first in the team merge, and had an exceptional compression of 68 seconds. They handled runner-up Northern Highlands 33-70.
Sophomores Lily Williams, AnnaMarie Tretola and Olivia Shattuck placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively, all with times of 19:35. Sophomore Lucia Rabolli was ninth (20:13) and senior Jules Einemer was 12th (20:43) rounded out the Ridgewood top five.
The fastest girl of the meet was Indian Hills senior Corinne Barney, who claimed her third straight Bergen County Varsity B title in a meet-best 18:34, five ticks faster than Varsity A winner Shannon Clancy. Barney logged her third win of the season, following wins at Shore Coaches and the Big North Patriot batch meet.
Barney led No. 8 Indian Hills to a convincing 35-58 victory over runner-up Ramapo in Varsity B. Indian Hills, with three runners in the top four, averaged a meet-best 19:45.8 -- 12 seconds faster than No. 1 Ridgewood in Varsity A, although the Maroons held out three of their top seven.
The Ridgewood boys, aiming for a fifth straight group title, claimed three of the top four places, finished first in the team merge, averaged a meet-best 16:29.8 en route to a 27-79 victory over Old Tappan in the Varsity A race. Junior Jay Boogaert (second, 16:18), senior Aidan Sheridan (third, 16:20) and sophomore Sean Fortunato (fourth, 16:21) led the Ridgewood charge. Seniors Frank Orlando (eighth, 16:39) and Taylor Barnabic (10th, 16:51) rounded out the Maroon scorers.
Old Tappan junior Steven Hatano, competing in his first season of cross-country, logged a big PR and captured his first career title. He won the Varsity A race in a meet-best 16:14, 15 seconds faster than his third-place finish at the Big North meet Oct. 15, also at Darlington. Truly a newcomer to leading the field, Hatano's only other trip to the winner's circle in high school came last winter, after winning the novice 1,600 meters at the Metropolitan Invitational at the New York Armory.
IN OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:
- Bergen Tech senior Shannon Clancy, who breezed over the Darlington course in 18:39, just three ticks off her course school record which she set at the Big North Championships Oct. 15. The North Arlington resident earned her fifth win of the season in six races. Ironically her only loss came when she first broke her school record at Darlington, when she finished second to Clifton's Andrea Dubbels (18:29) in the Big North - Liberty race.
- By one tick, Demarest junior Theodore Davis missed out on honors for the meet's fastest time. He won the Varsity B title by 10 seconds in 16:15, just a step slower than Varsity A winner Steven Hatano of Old Tappan.
- The Indian Hills boys flexed their county muscle once again, pushing three runners into the top six and claiming the Varsity B title, 47-56 over Demarest. Led by senior Michael Mohr (third, 16:50), Indian Hills (17:27 average, 1:19 compression) won its fifth county group title in six years. Chris Gamgort, a senior at Pascack Hills, smashed his PR by 18 seconds when he won the Varsity C boys title by 10 seconds in 16:30.
- The three-team girls race in Varsity C was the tightest and most dramatic of the meet. Westwood, led by junior Kayla Jarski (fourth, 20:10) won the title with 66 points while Glen Rock tied Pascack Hills for second with 70 points but earned the tiebreaker thanks to a faster sixth runner. Westwood was actually in third place after three runners crossed for each team: Pascack had 22, Glen Rock 24 and Westwood 26. Pascack then led after four runners with 41 points while Westwood had 42 and Glen Rock had 45. What clinched it for Westwood was fifth runner and senior Ainsley Fisher, who was 26th overall, while Glen Rock's fifth was 29th and Pascack's fifth was 33rd. -
- Ramsey junior Kaitlyn Garofalo won her first cross-country title and knocked down her PR by 11 seconds in winning the Varsity C title in 19:44.
- Another tight team race highlighted the Varsity C boys event. Leonia defeated Glen Rock 66-70 but not before receiving some heroics from senior Rudy Rodriguez. The teams were tied at 29 after three runners each but Rodriguez clinched the title when he finished 15th overall and five places ahead of Glen Rock's fourth. Leonia's top man was junior Matthew Cortez, fourth in 16:58.
- Bogota junior Jesus Michel, fourth in Varsity D last season, won his first major XC title with a 10-second victory in 16:46. He finally broke through for a win this season after placing second in the Brett Taylor Invite and the NJIC Divisional meet in successive races.
- Hasbrouck Heights figured to be too strong for the Varsity D field, having returned six of seven and graduating only top man Jeremy Bailey. Sophomore Evan Morrow placed second overall in 16:56 and led Hasbrouck Heights (17:19.2 average) to a convincing 20-52 victory over Bogota and its third straight group title.
- Cresskill junior Jacqueline Lulaj claimed her first major title and crushed her PR when she won the Varsity D race in 20:05. Lulaj's former best was 21:04, set two weeks ago when she placed second to Szambel of St. Mary's at the NJIC meet.
- The Hasbrouck Heights girls snagged their third straight Bergen County Varsity D group title when sophomore Isabella Drezek placed second overall in 21:00 and led her team, with four in the top eight, to a 36-48 victory over runner-up Saddle Brook.
- Last year Bergen Catholic celebrated its first Bergen County group title in 32 years. The Crusaders didn't wait as long to secure their next one, as individual champion Owen McCarthy (16:41) led BC to a 32-55 win over Don Bosco Prep in the Varsity E race. Bergen Catholic (17:30.2 average) packed five runners into the top 12 for a compression of 1:21.
- Elizabeth Szambel, a senior at St. Mary's (Ruth.) and the lone female runner for her school all four years, won her first county group title with her first time under 20 minutes this season. She championed the Varsity E race in 19:48.
- Immaculate Heart, led by runner-up and junior Madelyn Novelli (20:27), won its first county group title since 2016 by getting five runners inside the top nine and holding off two-time defending champion Holy Angels, 31-34 in the Varsity E race. IHA trailed Holy Angels 21-22 after four runners but IHA's fifth, junior Geri Tabbachino, placed ninth overall (21:13), four places ahead of Holy Angels' fifth.