Murphy, Bednar Earn All-American To Lead NJ Charge At NXN

Liam Murphy of Allentown and Charlotte Bednar of Lawrenceville added to their spectacular seasons with sensational performances as both placed eighth to earn All-American honors to lead the charge for New Jersey at the Nike Cross National Championships on Saturday on the muddy Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon.

The top 20 finishers earned All-American status.

The Villanova-bound Murphy, the NJSIAA Meet of Champions winner, finished very strong in the driving rain to secure the eighth-place finish in the boys race on the 3.1-mile course in 15:12.0, the fastest ever run by a NJ runner in course history.

Murphy's eight-place finish is the best by a NJ boy at NXN since legendary Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North was third in 2009 in 15:09.8 on the Portland Meadows course.    

Murphy, in the chase pack the whole way as Nico Young of Newbury Park in Calif. went wire to-wire to win in a course record 14:52.23, was 11th at the mile in 4:43.4, and 10th at two miles in 9:44.7.

Murphy, the top finisher from the Northeast Region after placing third in the regional last week, will have a chance for a unique All-American double next Saturday when he runs at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego.

Murphy qualified for FL Nationals by placing third at the FL Northeast Regional last week and was one of three NJ runners to receive an at-large bid to compete at NXN. Jack Stanley pulled off the NXN/FL All-American double last year when he was a senior at Mendham. 

Bednar, a sophomore who came into the race undefeated this season, finished as an All-American for the second straight year with her eighth place finish in the girls race in 17:40.5, the best finsh bya . NJ girls at NXN since all-time great Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck won in 2006. 

Bednar, who was 12th at the mile in 5:24.0 and ran a 5:46.1 second mile to move up to eighth, was 12th last year when she was a freshman at Hun in 17:29, the fastest time ever run by a NJ girl in course history.   

Bednar's finish
 put the finishing touches on a remarkable campaign that saw her win seven major races.  She repeated as State Prep A, Mercer County and Mid Atlantic champion, broke her own course record at Blair Academy by running 17:29, and won the Northeast Regional title last week in a 18:00, the fastest ever for a NJ girl at Bowdoin Park. 

There were several other NJ highlights at NXN. 

In the boys race, NJ runners swept the top three spots among competitors from the Northeast Region. 

North Carolina State-bound Kevin Antczak of Mainland, second to Murphy at the M of C, was NJ's No. 2 runner and 24th in 15:34.8. Junior Jackson Braddock of Southern Regional, the state Group 4 champ, placed 29th in 15:37.7.
Jack Jennings of Mendham, the state Group 3 champ and Murphy's future teammate at Nova, was 44th in 15:46.2. Antczak and Jennings, like Murphy, ran the FL Regional instead of Nike and accepted at-large invites.   

In the boys team race, NJ#1 Christian Brothers Academy, making its 10th straight appearance at the national meet after finishing as runner-up at the Northeast Regional, averaged 16:24 and had a 1-5 spread of 46 seconds on the way to a 16th place finish with 327 points. Newbury Park of Calif. won the national title in a nail-biter, 128-132 over Temecula of Calif.

CBA, which captured its third straight NJ Meet of Champions title two weeks ago, was led by senior Troy Hill, 64th in 15:59. CBA's other scorers were senior Shaw Powell, 88th in 16:10.5, junior Chris DeSousa (122nd in 16:31.1), junior Ben Santos (129th in 16:34.9), and sophomore Jack Moran (153rd in 16:45.9).  

In the girls race, Georgetown-bound Chloe Gonzalez, the NJSIAA Meet of Champions winner,

was 44th in 18:36.59, to lead NJ#1 North Hunterdon, coming off a fourth straight Northeast Regional title, edged NJ#2 Ridgewood, 384-390 to place 19th and 20th, respectively. Saratoga Springs of NY, who won the first NXN title back in 2004, outscored defending champion Summit of Oregon, 78-160, to win the girls championship.

The other four scorers for North Hunterdon, which averaged 19:42, were junior Magdalyn Hoffman (100th in 19:24.8), sophomore Addison Schmidt (133rd in 19:44.5), junior Alex Carlson (145th in 19:58.2), and sophomore Sophia Reich (182 in 20:50.6).  

Sophomore Camryn Wennersten returned to form after a couple off races with a strong 69th place finish in 18:56.17 to lead the way for Ridgewood, which averaged 19:39 in its first appearance at Nike Nationals. Behind Wennersten for Ridgewood were sophomore Olivia Shattuck (120th in19:35.7), sophomore Annamarie Tretola, 129th in 19:41.7, junior Clare Hamlet, 142nd in 19:55.6, and sophomore Lily Williams, 161st in 20:10.6.

Freshman Reese Fahys of Middletown South, the state Group 3 champion, finished 64th in the girls race 18:52.85.