BASKING RIDGE, NJ - The Ridge girls cross country team won the Group 4 State Championship title for only the third time in school history, and the first time since 2008.
The Red Devils' success was truly a team effort. In each race, the girls passed the lead back and forth as they ran, with captain Sophie Spring, Claire Jones and Shayna Bains claiming first place in consecutive races, followed by teammates Catherine Giuseffi, Lexy Donaldson, Caitlin Haggard, Kristin Miscia, Alex Kyros and Kaitlyn Van Baalen.
Throughout the season they received spirited support from injured Emily Hirsch on the sidelines.
The season began on a high note at the Magee Memorial Invitational, in which athletes compete by grade and the whole team’s efforts from freshman to senior are counted. With impressive performances by all grades, Ridge beat 60 teams to take home the overall title.
Two weeks later at the prestigious Shore Coaches Invitational, on a cold, wet, blustery day, running on the muddy and always difficult Holmdel course, the team triumphed again. The varsity girls dominated, their 19:56 average time the best ever for a Ridge girls team at this meet, and the fastest of the day by any girls team by nearly a 30-second margin. The JV girls also took first place, and the freshman girls finished second.
The JV girls continued their impressive season, and at the final freshman/JV State Meet they claimed the crown as champions. The freshman girls concluded their excellent first season with a second-place finish, led by speedy Amanda Passman.
The varsity girls, following their initial victories, faced three frustrating meets in a row, placing a close second to Hillsborough in the County Championships, and then a close second to North Hunterdon in both the Conference and the Sectional Championships, where they missed first place by just 4 points.
At the Group Championships, Ridge found themselves back at Holmdel, the site of their incredible Shore Coaches win. And at last, it all came together. Sophie Spring medaled, finishing in 10th place and leading her team to claim the state title. The girls are looking forward to the Meet of Champions next week, where they hope to defeat Hillsborough and North Hunterdon once again.
Ridge boys cross country was all about captain Andrew Daly this season. While the rest of the boys had a hopeful start featuring some outstanding individual times and personal records, they were unfortunately plagued by injuries. Still, they competed throughout the season with grit and determination, and ended in seventh place at the State Sectional Championships. With some strong runners coming up, the future looks bright for the boys team.
Despite his team’s struggles, Daly broke personal records in race after race, joining the list of top Ridge runners. At the State Sectional Championships he PR’d with a time of 16:12 to take fourth place. A week later, he placed 17th in the State Group Championships with another PR at Holmdel, leading him to qualify as a wildcard for the Meet of Champions.