It's not very often when a season opening meet features a clash of titans.
But that's what happened at Saturday's Season Opener at Darlington Park in Mahwah when Angelina Perez of Lakeland and Christina Allen of River Dell squared off in the Pod 2 race.
When the dust settled, Perez, a senior at Lakeland, earned some redemption by crossing the first in 17:39. Allen, a sophomore at River Dell, was second in 18:11.
The last time Perez and Allen went head-to-head, Allen came from way back on the final lap to catch Perez right before the finish line to win the 3,200m in 10:46.36 at the Meet of Champions last June. The heavily favored Perez wound up third in 10:46.53.
Lakeland, ranked No. 9 in the state, crammed six runners in the top 12 to runaway with a 19-60 victory over Old Tappan. Seniors Abigail Horevay (19:33) and Caitlin Fahy (19:47) finished fourth and fifth to help Lakeland secure the win.
Congratulations to both our Boys and Girls for 1st place team finishes today at the Season Opener Invitational. Looking forward to improving each week! pic.twitter.com/yietgCGbtO
In the girls Pod 1 race, junior Tara Kibbe of Lyndhurst finished first with a PR of 19:44, 21 seconds head of senior Isabella Drezek of Hasbrouck Heights was second in 20:05, and Park Ridge/Emerson edged Montclair-Kimberley, 71-82, for the team championships.
In the girls Pod 3 race, No. 1 ranked Ridgewood won the team title easily as senior Lia Vaynshteyn (20:59), sophomore Avery Sheridan (21:04) and junior Eva Jacqueline (21:06) finished 2-3-4 to lead the charge for the Maroons. Clifton junior Remy Dubac of Clifton won going away with a PR of 19:26.
In the boys competition, senior Jacob Heredia ran the fastest time of the day (16:09) to win the Pod 3 title, and No. 15 ranked Ridgewood defeated No. 11 Clifton, 42-72. Seton Hall Prep ran a strong race to get third with 79.
Ridgewood, which put five runners ahead of Clifton's third and had a 1-5 compression of 46 seconds, was led by senior Mick Barbi (16:520, senior Tommy Byrne (16:53), and junior Tommy Koltermann (17:11), who went 4-5-6.
Senior Aidan Carroll captured the Pod 1 crown by running a PR of 16:20, just four seconds ahead of senior Evan Morrow of Hasbrouck Heights, and St. Rose nipped Leonia, 68-69, for the team title.
In the Pod 2 race, senior Alex Horgan of Ramapo won it in 16:42, a one minute PR, and Lakeland took the team crown with 63 points, Bergen Catholic was next with 81.