Defending champions, both individuals and teams, treated the Blair Academy 5K course as if they owned it, as three individuals and one boys team and one girls team won second straight titles at the NJISAA Prep State Championships on a sun-splashed afternoon Wednesday in Blairstown, NJ.
Bednar, who won the Prep A girls title last season as a freshman at Hun, ripped apart the Blair campus course and crossed in 17:29, six seconds faster than her then-record time last week at Blair for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Championships.
It was Bednar's sixth 5K win in as many outings this fall. The only time she hasn't won this season is when she placed fourth in the 2.5-mile Easterns race at the Manhattan Invitational last month at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
It was a good day for girls defending champions, as Villa Walsh junior Sarah Hanifin also grabbed a second straight title, taking command of the Prep B race in 19:27. It was Hanifin's second title in as many races. She was a surprise winner at the Morris County meet two weeks ago. Hanifin is the fifth Villa Walsh winner in the last six years; Mary Lynch repeated as champ (2014-15) and Sophie Henderson won in 2016.
The third repeat individual champion of the meet was Montclair Kimberley senior Charlie Koenig, who captured his second straight Prep B crown in 16:39. His win marks the fourth straight year an MKA boy has been crowned an individual champion, following Bill Massey in 2016, Nick Wilson in 2017 and of course Koenig last season.
Rounding out our individual champions is Krishna Kakani, a junior at Peddie who claimed the Prep A boys title by crossing in 16:21, a 42-second PR on the Blair course. The title was Kakani's first XC title but the second of his high school career. Last spring he won the Prep A 800-meter title.
The Seton Hall Prep boys have definitely found their groove, winning their second straight team title in the Prep A race. The newly-crowned Essex County champions pushed five runners into the top 16 and won the Prep A title by edging Lawrenceville, 44-54.
Seton Hall's big boost came from its top three, who finished before Lawrenceville's first. Senior Colin Schweitzer placed second overall in 16:27 and was followed by senior Nolan Orr (fifth, 16:32), junior Kevin Harvey (seventh, 17:00), junior Luke Incardona (14th, 17:40) and sophomore Ben Ferrara (16th, 17:46).
To its credit, Lawrenceville had five runners inside the top 13, including a 10-11-12-13 flurry. This performance produced an exceptional 1-5 compression of 31 seconds.
The Newark Academy boys grabbed their second straight Prep B team title by overwhelming the field, jamming five runners into the top eight and scoring 28 points to easily outdistance runner-up Rutgers Prep with 80.
Senior Warren Sunada-Wong (17:00) and junior Jack Ryan (17:17) finished 2-3 for Newark Academy, and they were followed by senior Jackson Powers (sixth, 17:47) and sophomores Andy Nagpal (seventh, 17:51) and Maximilian Gorbaty (eighth, 17:52).
The Prep B girls trophy has become accustomed to traveling back to Morristown because the Villa Walsh girls are in the hunt every year. This time they claimed two of the top three slots to forge a path to the title, 41-62 over Montclair Kimberley. It was Villa Walsh's ninth Prep B title in 12 years.
After Hanifin led the way with a win, freshman Delaney McKee was third for Villa Walsh in 20:10, junior Christina Cucolo was 10th in 21:33, senior Julia Collum was 11th in 21:44 and senior Maureen Walsh was 16th in 22:45.
The Kent Place girls won their first Prep A championship by claiming three of the top eight spots and beating a tight field with 46 points. Pingry was second with 61, defending champion Lawrenceville was third with 77, Trinity Hall was fourth with 86 and Immaculate Heart had 97.
Sophomore Miranda Lorsbach led the Kent Place barrage by placing third overall in 19:19. She was followed by freshman Lindsay Hausman (seventh, 20:22), senior Catherine Gilhuley (eighth, 20:25), senior Phoebe Eccles (14th, 21:03) and freshman Noe Nalavala (16th, 21:07).