SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Jonathan Dayton cross country team began its preparation for its season in official practices in mid-August.

A good number of runners however began their season in late June. These runners logged their mileage online with the hope of earning a summer mileage club t-shirt.

Though nearly 80 percent of the runners did log a portion of their runs, only 27 out of 59 students in the program earned the coveted shirt. Accordng to Coach David Campbell, "The freshman Class was outstanding with eleven out of its 15 runners meeting its goal."

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Junior Kevin Bernor completed 94 percent of the assigned runs to lead the pack.

The team has run three quad meets in Union County. These meets are unofficially scored and mainly serve as workouts.  The team has competed at Warianaco Park in Elizabeth and the newly created course at Oak Ridge Park in Clark.

On Saturday, September 30 however, Jonathan Dayton participated in the Stewart Memorial Invitational meet that was held at Greystone Park in Morris Plains New Jersey.  This was a 5k (3.2 mile) race.

This is the site where the North 2 Group 1 sectional will be held.

Coach Campbell said, "It was a perfect day to run and many Bulldogs took advantage of the conditions to earn early season personal bests." 

The Coach felt the girls team ran a good early-season race against future sectional foes. Dayton finished 11 out of 15 teams. Sophomore Katriona Corbett, despite a fall, managed to run 22 minutes and 9 seconds to finish 40 out of 113 runners. Freshman Abby Hochreiner, Erica Carrie, Samantha Potito and Isabella McKenna all ran their season-best.

The boy’s team brought its top 13 runners.

Adam Cohen broke the 18-minute barrier. He is the first Bulldog runner to do that since Ben Castor in 2011. Coach Campbell feels Adam Cohen has the potential to break the 5K record of 17:20 recorded by Castor.

Freshman Daniel Birkman-Galao was the first Dayton freshman in the last twelve years to break 20-minutes this early in the XC season. He performance has solidified his spot as a top seven runner.

Junior Ben Morley, a baseball player in the spring, turned in what Coach Campbell called "...a terrific career-best performance, running in 19:13."  He went on to say. "Ben has already surpassed last year's performance by cutting nearly seventeen seconds off his average mile from the previous season."

Senior Captain Fabian Mestanza broke the 19-minutes barrier for the first time in competition. The Coach said, "Fabian came into the season in terrific shape and most definitely will see his times drop in the most important meets of the season a month from now."

Rounding out the top seven in the varsity race for the boys were Juniors Tyler Kwinta, Pablo Berkman-Galao and James Tiu.

The top six for the Junior Varsity boy’s race saw some outstanding performances. 

Of all the performances, the Coach said, "None was more eye-popping than Junior Kevin Bernor.  Bernor has his eyes on joining the Marine Corps after graduation. He spent the summer trying to make the physical benchmarks needed. Each race this season Kevin has improved but his run Saturday bordered on ridiculous. He ran in 19:43. Last season Kevin did not break the 30 minutes barrier in his first four races."

Bernor earned the right to be a top seven Runner at New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational that will be held at the Madison Square Garden of cross-country in Holmdel, NJ.

Senior Captain Horace Giambatista turned in his best run of the season. Giambatista had a very busy summer working and fulfilling his leadership role as an Eagle Scout, is finally starting to round into shape. Horace broke 20-minutes and also earned himself a spot back into the top seven.

Senior Kevin Haskin and impressed the audience at the chute with a terrific finishing kick. Junior's Jibran Absarulislam and Sean Riley turned in good performances. Surprising freshman Luke Hernandez bested his previous average mile by 25 seconds.

Dayton travels to Holmdel this Saturday, October 7 to participate in the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational meet. This is the site where the Group 1 championship will be held. Both the girls and boys programs have made the Group 1 championship the last two years. 

Over two hundred high school cross country teams in New Jersey will travel to Holmdel, New Jersey to take on one of the most challenging cross country courses in the country.

With a little over a month left in the season, both the boys and girls team continue to work extremely hard 6 days a week in preparation for the big meets.

The Union County Conference-Divisional Championships will be held on October 17. The Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships will be held on October 25.