Four days after his worst race of the season, Liam Mullett bounced back with his best.
The Pingry School junior placed fourth in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, clocking a time of 15:52 on Holmdel Park’s hilly 3.1-mile course on Wednesday. That marked a 19-second improvement from his second-place showing in Saturday’s Non-Public B meet.
“After last week, I can’t explain how good this feels,” Mullett said. “I just relaxed. Last week I had to lead. This week I could chill and let the leaders do the work.”
Middletown North’s Thomas O’Neill broke the tape in 15:31, followed by Toms River South’s Kyle Kroon (15:47) and Freehold Township’s Dylan Tarpey (15:50). Mullett ran in third most of the way before Tarpey passed him down the stretch. He avenged Saturday’s loss to Trinity Christian’s Josiah Hanko, who took 12th in 16:00.
“I was reading up on stuff last night, and this is the third consecutive year that the Skyland Conference champion got fourth place here,” Mullett said, referring to North Hunterdon’s Matt McDonald in 2010 and Ridge’s Tyler Gibbons last year. “I’m happy with the time but to me the main thing was to place high. After running so poorly last week, it was important to show people I’m not gone—I’m still running well.”
North Hunterdon ran well, too. The Lions placed sixth overall with 184 points and a 16:44 average, earning the final spot on the post-race awards podium. Senior David Folsom led North with a 23rd-place finish in 16:16.
Hillsborough also came on strong, taking eighth overall in 187 points and a school-record average of 16:46. Junior Nick McFarland paced the Raiders by taking 30th in 16:22.
Christian Brothers won their third straight MOC crown in remarkable fashion, running what amounted to a JV team to keep the regulars fresh for Saturday’s Nike Team Regionals. The Colts posted 110 points and a 16:30 average.