HOLMDEL, NJ -- Senior Philmon Mehari of Livingston ran a personal best time and finished 10th in a field of 151 runners in Group 4 at the NJSIAA Group Championships cross country meet last Saturday at Holmdel Park.

Mehari's 10th-place finish, with a time of 16:29, earned him an automatic advancement to the Meet of Champions next Saturday at Holmdel Park.

Mehari also achieved what MileSplit recognizes as an "Elite" performance, which was achieved by only 33 of the 864 finishers across all groups.

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"We are very proud of his accomplishments thus far in the 2019 campaign, and wish him well as he culminates his  New Jersey high school cross-country career this coming Saturday at the Meet Of Champions," said Livingston head cross country coach Dave Czeizinger.

Meet of Champions qualifiers are determined this way: The first two team finishers in each group; eight wild card teams decided through the merge; individuals who finished top 10 in their group; top 10 fastest individual wild card times who have not yet qualified through a team; or a top 10 finish.  

Mehari was on the line with a race start time of 3:00. He got out aggressively placing himself up front going into the woods early, according to Livingston coach Jim Memory. Mehari maintained position for the most part through the woods and into roller coasters that follow the start of the race.  

Coming out of the roller coasters, Mehari picked up his pace and positioned himself in third at the one-mile marker with a recorded time of 5:17. The steep part of the bowl on the second mile was a challenge for Mehari, according to Memory, but he managed to fight through it and push onward to the second-mile marker but fell back to sixth place at this point in the race. Mehari ran his second mile in 5:32.   

Mehari finished the last 1.1 miles of the course in 5:40.  

He will also be running at the Foot Locker National Championships Regional meet held at the storied Van Cortland Park on Saturday, Nov. 30.