The Garret Invitational on Saturday was one of those cross-country meets that had it all.
There was nearly a shutout thrown down by the Hasbrouck Heights boys, Pope John and Morris Hills pulled off sweeps, a set of twins powered NJ No. 4 North Hunterdon to a stunning performance, a runner won their debut race for their new school, Immaculate Heart Academy made a big statement, and there were tons of big PR's all packed into a great day of racing at Garret Mountain in Woodland Park.
Let's start with Ryan Pena.
Running his first race for Wayne Valley after transferring from Hackensack, the junior made a smashing debut, winning the boys Pod 4 race in 16:45, the third fastest time of the meet and 55 seconds faster than he ran at Garret last year when he was 28th at the NJ. Sec. 1 meet in 17;40. Now that's how you make a great first impression!
How about the North Hunterdon boys!!!
Senior twins Brian Pedretti and Dan Pedretti finished 1-2 with the two fastest times of the day to ignite a remarkable performance by the North Hunterdon boys in the Pod 1 race. Brian ran 16:27 and Dan clocked a 16:33 as the Lions went 1-2-6-7-8, averaged 16:51, and had a 1-5 split of just 40 seconds, and had all 7 guys run Garret PR's en route to a 24-71 over runner-up NJ No. 3 St. Peter's Prep. St. Peter's Prep didn't run its full varsity squad.
The victory by North Hunterdon's varsity capped a off a hat trick for the Lions, who also won the boys JV and freshmen team titles.
North Hunterdon's performances were even more impressive when you consider they just came off a two-week quarantine this past Tuesday.
"They are tough and motivated kids,'' North Hunterdon coach Tom Higgins said. "They worked their tails off totally solo during the quarantine.''
The showdown between North Hunterdon, NJ No. 2 Ridge, and NJ No. 4 Westfield should be another classic at the North Jersey, Sec. 2 Group 4 meet at Oak Ridge Park in Clark a couple weeks!!!
The top girls team of the day was IHA, who packed its scoring five in the top 10 and averaged a meet-best 21:10 on the way to a 21-90 victory over runner-up Morris Knolls. NJ No. 1 Ridgewood, third with 101, held out its top guns. Sophomore Leanna Johnston led the surge for IHA with a winning time of 20:28, the second fastest girls time of the day.
The top girls time belonged to Mahwah junior Megan Dursema, who won the Pod 4 race in a huge Garrett PR of 20:23. Her previous best at Garret was the 22:30 she ran at the NJ. Sec. 1 meet last year.
Look out for the Hasbrouck Heights boys, who came within five seconds of recording a rare shutout in the boys Pod 2 race.
Senior Evan Morrow was the leader of the pack for Hasbrouck Heights, sparking the 1-2-3-4-6- finish with a victory in 17:38 as the Aviators ran away with a 16-80 victory over Saddle Brook. This is the fourth title in five major meets for the pack from Hasbrouck Heights!
Hasbrouck Height's No. 5 man, Andrew Oettinger, ran a great race to close out the victory for Hasbrouck Heights, placing sixth in 18:55, just five seconds away from finishing fifth, which would have secured a shutout.
The team sweeps came in the Pods 3 and 4 races.
In Pod 3, the Pope John boys and girls each won thrilling races over Bernards. The Pope John boys finished 2-3-7-12-21 for 45 point to nip Bernards, who went 4-8-10-11-14 for 47 points.
For the Pope John girls, junior Gabriella Pagano crossed first in 21:06 as the Lions grabbed places 1-4-7-10-16 to score a 38-41 victory over Bernards. Bernards countered by going 3-6-8-9-15.
The other team title sweep came from Morris Hills in Pod 4. In the boys race, Morris Hills, led by sophomore Albin Mullan's runner-up finish in 16:49, went 2-5-8-11-32 for 58 points to defeat Parsippany by eight points. Parsippany took places 4-10-15-18-19.
Meanwhile, the Morris Hills girls, led by senior Aleia Delgado's runner-up finish in 21:24, outpointed Mahwah, 41-62. Morris Hills went 2-6-10-11-12 and put four runner ahead of Mahwah's No. 3 runner.
In the girls Pod 2 race, senior Kayla Sullivan finished first in 20:52 to lead St. Dominic Academy to an impressive 24-41 victory over Hasbrouck Heights.
Senior Nathan Armstrong of Pompton Lakes captured the boys Pod 3 individual title in 16:54.