The Shore Coaches Invitational is the first statewide measuring stick for high school cross country, and Liam Mullett and Eve Glasergreen set the bar high Saturday.
The Pingry School’s Mullett won the Varsity E race in a time of 15:50, the fastest among all New Jersey boys on the day, while North Hunterdon’s Glasergreen placed second in the girls championship section in 18:47.
Both times were personal bests on Holmdel Park’s challenging 3.1-mile course.
“My training was really good this summer,” said Mullett, a senior who clocked 15:52 on the course at last fall’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions. “All signs indicate I am significantly fitter than I was last year. At the end of the race last year I was just exhausted. This year I was definitely working, but I had a lot left at the end.”
Mullett finished two seconds ahead of Wallkill Valley junior Craig Corti in the E race. They came through the mile in 5:22 and two miles in 10:22 before Mullett put the hammer down with 600 meters left.
Between the seven boys’ races, only Mike Brannigan of Northport (N.Y.) ran faster, winning the championship section in 15:45.
“The pace could have been a little faster,” Mullett said. “I’m not bouncing-off-the-walls happy with the time but I’m pleased with it. It’s a good way to start.”
Glasergreen was pleased too, after dropping her Holmdel best by four seconds. She started off at the back end of the lead pack and picked off racers one by one until only Haddonfield freshman phenom Briana Gess (18:36) was ahead.
“I was thinking of winning, that was my goal, but to be honest I didn’t know the competition,” Glasergreen said. “What I did today I’m very happy with.”
In the other six girls races, only Varsity A winner Josette Norris of Tenafly broke 18:50, matching Glasergreen with an 18:47. The unseasonable heat and humidity took their toll on the afternoon’s bigger races.
“I think I can get a couple of seconds off with cooler conditions,” Glasergreen said.
Her effort helped North Hunterdon post a five-girl average of 20:19, best in the area and third-best in the state. However, the Lions finished fifth in the race based on points. Much-improved Westfield, which averaged 20:35, was a surprise third-place finisher.
Hillsborough’s girls won the A race with 72 points, five better than Toms River North. The Raiders averaged 20:34 with sophomore Stephanie Mauer (second place, 19:37), junior Molly Doyle (fifth, 20:08) and sophomore Paige Novak (seventh, 20:09) leading the way.
In the morning session, Gill St. Bernard’s won two gold medals as senior Dana Klein posted a brisk 18:53 triumph in Varsity F girls and junior Patrik Andersen broke the tape in 16:43 in Varsity F boys.
Mount St. Mary won the Varsity F girls team title with 65 points and a 21:34 average. Junior Kerry Dyke paced the Mount Lions with a second-place finish in 19:16.
Union Catholic’s girls were the surprise winner in Varsity D, recording 63 points and averaging 21:07. Sophomore Asia Johnson sparked the Vikings with a second-place clocking of 20:22.
In the afternoon session, North Hunterdon senior David Mugavero struck gold in Varsity A boys with a 16:18 performance. Hillsborough finished second overall in that race with a 17:17 average. Westfield, which placed sixth in the boys championship race, posted the top local boys average of 17:07.