ELIZABETH, NJ - The Jonathan Dayton High School (JDHS) boys and girls cross country teams both competed in the 81st annual running of the Union County Cross Country Championships, which were held Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth.
Sophomore Abbey Hochreiner clocked in with a time of 20 minutes and 59 seconds, the fastest time posted by a female Dayton runner since Dayton alumna Liz Pabst ('88) on the Warinanco championship course. Hochreiner finished in 25th place overall. Along with Hochreiner, Juniors Catriona Corbett, Lily Dvorchik, Emma Gouiran and sophomore Shannon Kennedy all ran a personal best.
The top seven runners for the girls team placed ninth in the county out of 12 teams. The team's five runner split was the lowest it has been since 1985.
For second-year girls cross country head coach Coach Jen Martinez, the teamwork her girls have shown has made her excited to see what they will do next.
“I've been very impressed with how hard the girls have worked," Martinez said. "They have supported each other and pushed each other this entire year. We are relatively young and the future looks very bright.”
The boys cross-country team sports five seniors in its top seven. All five seniors hit a personal record in their last run at Warinanco, capping off their careers in style.
In the first race of the day, sophomore Harrison Turner set the stage by running a personal best at Warinanco. Turner broke the 20 minute barrier for the first time.
Boys cross country country coach Dave Campbell, now in his 13th year at the helm, said it set a good tone for the rest of the race.
“This let the top seven [runners] know that they would have to run a good result to keep their spot,” said Campbell.
Team captain Adam Cohen came in first with a time of 17 minutes and 48 seconds. He was followed by sophomore Daniel Galao-Birkmann, Senior Captain James Tiu, senior Tyler Kwinta, senior Pablo Galao-Birkmann, Jibran Absarulislam and freshman Ian McLeer.
The group of seven runners won the Union County Mountain Division Conference Championship earlier in October. The win marked the first boys cross country championship for JDHS since the 1985 season.
Campbell said that as the next portion of the season gets underway, this team looks like it has the chance to accomplish a great deal.
“This is the fastest collection of top seven runners I've had my coaching career," Campbell said. "I'm really excited for these young men to run at the state section. It's the first time at the state section I can say that I believe we have a good chance to do something great.”
The cross-country County Championship is the last time the entire team is together before the competitive state meet schedule begins.