Ridgewood, Indian Hills sweep at North 1 State Sectionals by Nick Gantaifis of The Record
WOODLAND PARK – Tradition and consistency were the themes on display at Saturday’s North 1 state sectional cross-country championships at Garret Mountain.
Six total teams and three individual runners repeated as group sectional champions, highlighted by Ridgewood’s and Indian Hills’ clean sweeps in the girls’ and boys’ divisions.
Ridgewood dominated the Group 4 field as the boys claimed a record ninth straight team title and the girls cruised to an unprecedented 24th overall crown and qualified for their 43rd Group championship meet since 1976. The Ridgewood boys finished 33 points ahead of runner-up Morristown, 66-99 and the girls team ran past Randolph 32-77.
“We won last week at the Bergen County meet, but it wasn’t a pretty win and you can’t complain too much about a win,” said Ridgewood boys coach Patrick Ryan. “We really talked about some things to change to get better and really focused all week on how we performed here in the past. We have some guys who aren’t used to this spotlight. Any time you come off a performance like this where you’re very happy with how you responded, it’s huge.”
Indian Hills, competing in Group 2 for the first time since dropping down from Group 3, swept the boys and girls team races and were led by individual winners Corinne Barney (19:08) and Bobby Oehrlein (16:19).
Other repeat team winners include the Northern Highlands girls in Group 3, both the Mountain Lakes boys and girls in Group 1 and the Morris Hills boys in Group 3.
“The girls recognized that they’re part of a program that’s bigger than themselves and that has a tradition that goes all the way back to the beginning of girls’ sports in New Jersey. They find that exciting and challenging,” Ridgewood girls coach Steve Opremcak said. “We’re where we’re supposed to be. I coach my girls and I don’t know what other coaches are doing. This is where we want to be and we’re going to go into next week and give it our best effort and then see what happens from there.”
The top five teams and top 10 individuals in each group at Saturday’s state sectional races advance to next Saturday’s group championships at Holmdel Park.
Tenafly’s Carmel Ohring makes history
Junior Carmel Ohring became the first Tenafly runner to capture a state sectional title when he finished five seconds ahead of runner-up Matt Morena of Morris Hills in the Group 3 race.
Ohring, who was 15th last year, finished in front of senior teammate and third-place Will Hawkins (17:02) as the duo helped the Tigers to a second-place showing behind champions Morris Hills.
Daisy Liljegren leads No. Highlands
Another year means another Highlanders’ celebration.
Junior Daisy Liljegren continued in the footsteps of past Highlander greats when she captured her first Group 3 sectional title in 18:42. Liljegren finished more than a minute ahead of runner-up Anna George (19:48) and is the fourth Northern Highlands’ runner to win a sectional title since 2009.
“I got off to a good start, but it was difficult to stay on pace because of the mud. My mile time was a little bit slower than normal because of the mud and I tried not to fall,” Liljegren said. “I’m really excited for next weekend for myself and the team. We did really well today and if we can keep up the morale, we’ll do well in the group meet.”
The Highlanders captured their third-straight Group 3 crown and fourth in five years.
Luis Peralta rolls to another title
Passaic senior Luis Peralta continued his impressive prep career and captured his second-straight Group 4 championship in a boys best 16:06. Peralta got off the line first and maintained a winning pace to finish ahead of second-place Will Baginski (16:21) of Ridgewood.
“It feels great to win again,” Peralta said. “I wanted to run smart throughout the whole race, but I started to get a little tired going up the hill.”
Highlights from the other races
► Senior Abby Loveys of Randolph ran a sizzling 17:41 to repeat in Group 4 and broke the 31-year old course record of 17:59 set by Christi Constantin of Kittatinny.
► Kinnelon senior Emma Kline was the fastest to the finish line in Group 1 in 19:41 to lead the Colts to a second-place team finish.
► Senior Jared Cooper of Mountain Lakes won his second-straight boys Group 1 title in 16:12 as the Herd repeated as team champions.