Don’t let the enrollments fool you. Mount St. Mary, Gill St. Bernard’s and Pingry are small high schools, but their cross country programs packed a big punch at Saturday’s Shore Coaches Invitational.
The trio produced three individual champions and a team title between the boys and girls competitions, proving once again that Somerset County and the Skyland Conference are elite havens for harriers. And that holds true even after you get past the brand names like Hillsborough, Voorhees, Ridge and North Hunterdon.
“Every year it seems the Skyland is the top conference,” Matthew DiPretore said. “We see each other quite a bit throughout the season, us Pingry and Gill. It always goes back and forth.”
Mount St. Mary won the Varsity F girls race Saturday, posting an average time of 21:34 and scoring 65 points. Gill St. Bernard’s placed second with 87 points as senior Dana Klein broke the tape in 18:53, the fourth-fastest time of the day among all seven races. Pingry, which was missing three of its runners due to SATs, finished fifth.
“If Pingry had those girls it would have been a nail-biter,” DiPretore said.
As it is, the Mount Lions look like a contender to win the NJSIAA Non-Public B crown in November. Junior Kerry Dyke set the pace with a second-place finish in 19:16, followed by sophomore Abigail McCann (12th, 21:20), senior Kelly O’Connor (17 th, 21:52), senior Nicole Rojas (29th, 22:35), senior Kathy Galgiano (32nd, 22:48) and junior Lindsay Donegan (33rd, 22:48).
“I was really happy,” DiPretore said. “We were at Great Adventure the week before and didn’t have the best of showings. I told the team we needed to start the season on a clean slate at Shore. In the early part of the season we lost to Voorhees by three points in a dual meet and we lost to Bernards by one. That was a killer.”
His team righted the ship at Holmdel, and now looks forward to the Somerset County Championships Oct. 16. The Mount Lions could place as high as third, behind Hillsborough and Ridge.
“Our five, six and seven (runners) all came in within 15 seconds,” DiPretore said. “If we can close the gap between or two and three, I think we’ll be contending for a lot of things.”
Here are the top 10 times for local girls at Shore: 1. Eve Glasergreen (North Hunterdon) 18:47; 2. Dana Klein (Gill St. Bernard’s) 18:53; 3. Kerry Dyke (Mount St. Mary) 19:16; 4. Cailyn Lavigne (North Hunterdon) 19:27; 5. Stephanie Mauer (Hillsborough) 19:37; 6. Meaghan Driscoll (Voorhees) 19:40; 7. Gabby Stravach (Westfield) 19:55; 8. Molly Doyle (Hillsborough) 20:08; 9. Paige Novak (Hillsborough) 20:09; 10. Kelly Shaffer (South Hunterdon) 20:14.
Here are the top 10 times for local boys at Shore: 1. Liam Mullett (Pingry) 15:50; 2. David Mugavero (North Hunterdon) 16:18; 3. Matt Luppino (Westfield) 16:20; 4. Jordan Price (New Providence) 16:25; 5. Chris Thompson (Voorhees) 16:41; 6. Patrik Andersen (Gill St. Bernard’s) 16:43; 7. (tie) Andrew Ghizzone (Union Catholic) 16:46, Matthew Russo (Westfield) 16:46, Nick McFarland (Hillsborough) 16:46; 9. 10. Anthony Capone (Voorhees) 16:48.