On a mission to better his state championship performance of 2012, Pat Hally delivered the fastest time ever by a Delaware runner in the Lake Forest Invitational in 15:57.95, leading Salesianum past Gonzaga (D.C.) for the team title.
The annual first race for the Delaware running season, the Killens Pond course attracts elite teams from Washington, D.C., to join most of Delaware’s leading squads. Tai Dinger of St. Albans had the day’s best time, 15:50. Georgetown Day School won the small-schools division.
Hally began conservatively, accelerated in the second mile and made the third mile his fastest, closing powerfully to win the flat, sandy course by 17 seconds.
After extending his spring to the New Balance Nationals, he trained easily this summer until an intense running camp last month at Kutztown, where he logged 75 miles.
“Cross country is a long enough season. I don’t want to burn myself out,” said Hally, who bested former teammate Matthew McKenna’s school course record by a second.
Hally was the state 3,200-meter champion as a sophomore and was second in the event last year, when he also won the Division I cross country title.
As eight of the fastest nine times last year were in Division II, Hally is focusing on one-division races. The next is the Joe O’Neill Invitational in six weeks at Bellevue State Park.
“There will be a state record,” Hally said. “We just don’t know who yet.”
Finishing third in the small-schools race and first among Delaware runners was Thomas Connelly of Wilmington Friends, who ran 16:00, the seventh-fastest Delaware time ever at the course.
“What’s challenging here is when you get a lot of attention from the fans, on either side of the straightaways, but then you’re in the woods and it’s silent,” Connelly said. “The contrast is huge. You have adrenaline coming at you on all sides, then suddenly it’s just you and the other runner.”
Mark Corrigan of St. Mark’s, who was third in the large-schools race, improved his time by 90 seconds in one year (16:18) after a 700-mile summer regimen. Sam Phillips (sixth in 16:45) paced Caesar Rodney to third place.
Kevin Murray (4th, 16:22) and Yesh Chillakuru (10th, 16:56) led fourth place Charter of Wilmington, which was missing two-time champion Kieran Tuntivate, who was out with a bruised knee. Jarod Wilson, Andrew Milham and Brandon Holveck broke 17 minutes for fifth-place Newark.
Eamon McCoy of Brandywine, Alex McIlvain of St. Andrew’s and Gabriel Mojica of Smyrna also broke 17 minutes. Thomas Higley, Anthony Apostolico, Jacob Ward and Dominic Gallo finished in the top 20 for Salesianum.