Look for Vidhur Polam's cross country results prior to this fall, and you won't find any. After running 9:30 in the 3200 and 4:26 in the 1600 as a South Brunswick sophomore, the former soccer player decided to commit full-time to the distance running life.
His first cross country season has been an eye opener, including a Central Jersey Group 4 Sectional title today in 15:58 at Thompson Park. Polam, South Brunswick's first sectional boys XC champion, came into the race as one of the favorites, having run 15:31 in September at Ocean County Park; 16:12 at Shore Coaches in his first race at Holmdel Park, and 15:49 to win the GMC Championships.
"It was summer, a 4xmile workout," said Polam of when he felt confident about his chance for success on the trails. "I was like, if I can do this every cross country race, I can be a top dog in the state."
In Central Jersey and across the state, the top dogs all had to come out and run today in the survive and advance world of Sectionals.
Some, like Henry Hudson's Corina Vidal, were able to cruise and win under calm but very chilly conditions. The senior ran 18:59 to win Group 1 by 38 seconds, and was able to add her name to the very short list of three-time Sectional champions. Others, like Colts Neck's Lilly Shapiro, had closer battles on their hands. The sophomore ran with her teammates early but then moved to the front in the final stretch to win by 2 seconds with an 18:55, leading her team to their third straight Sectional title. Her squad will be shooting for their 4th straight State title next weekend at Holmdel Park.
The top 5 teams and the top 15 individuals in each Sectional race advance to the State Group Championships next Saturday.
The only other repeat winner among the girls' teams was South Brunswick, as they averaged 19:46 to win Group 4 by 36 points over Hunterdon Central. The fastest top 5 of the day went to the Holmdel girls, as they averaged 19:43 to win their first Group 2 title.
On the boys' side, the Voorhees crew won Group 3 for the 5th time in 6 years; West Windsor-Plainsboro South won Group 4 for the 7th time in the last 11 years; and Shore Regional defended their Group 1 title from last year.
The West Windsor-Plainsboro North boys had the best top 5 of the day by 1 second over their South neighbors, averaging 16:25 and putting their top 7 all at 17th or better in Group 3.
The closest call for advancement came in the boy's Group 4 race, where Hillsborough and South Brunswick tied for 5th with 142 points. Just as important as the 5th runner for each team were the 6th and 7th for Hillsborough, who gave them the edge to qualify.
Individual and Team Winners
- Corina Vidal 12 Henry Hudson Reg HS 18:59.40
- New Providence HS 37 3+6+7+8+13 (15+17) 1:57 1-5 Split | 21:03 Avg
- Emma McGill 11 Voorhees HS 18:25.60
- Holmdel HS 61 3+4+14+15+25 (26+33) 1:44 1-5 Split | 19:43 Avg
- Lilly Shapiro 10 Colts Neck HS 18:55.30
- Colts Neck HS 28 1+3+5+9+10 (17+26) 1:32 1-5 Split | 19:44 Avg
- Caroline Mehlhorn 10 Montgomery HS 18:34.60
- South Brunswick HS 65 4+7+16+17+21 (22+24) 0:51 1-5 Split | 19:46 Avg
- Robert Hannon 12 Pt. Pleasant Beach HS 16:25.50
- Shore Regional HS 37 5+6+7+9+10 (24+42) 0:17 1-5 Split | 17:37 Avg
- Austin Gabay 12 Cinnaminson HS 16:13.40
- Voorhees HS 66 2+3+4+16+41 (43+63) 1:28 1-5 Split | 16:49 Avg
- Liam Murphy 12 Allentown HS 15:32.40
- West Windsor-Plainsboro North HS 35 2+6+7+8+12 (13+17) 0:56 1-5 Split | 16:25 Avg
- Vidhur Polam 11 South Brunswick HS 15:58.80
- West Windsor Plainsboro South HS 47 3+4+5+13+22 (57+69) 0:35 1-5 Split | 16:26 Avg