MORRIS PLAINS, NJ - Both the Jonathan Dayton High School cross country teams participated on November 4 in the North 2 Group 1 Cross Country Championships that were held at Greystone Park in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
Both the boys and the girls team have qualified for the Group 1 championship the past two fall seasons.
Expectations were high for both squads coming off some outstanding performances during the regular season. However, Coach Jen Martinez and Dave Campbell could not foresee how well the girls would show up in the biggest meet of the season.
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The girls team was the first of the two teams to race the challenging 3.1-mile course.
At the sound of the starter’s pistol, sophomore Catriona Corbett and freshman Abby Hochreiner took off. They held the lead through the first mile of the race with sophomore Lily Dvorchik not far behind.
The 3rd mile saw the favored girls from McNair Academic take over. However, Corbett (5th) and Hockreiner (7th) finished in the top 10. This allowed them to qualify for the Group 1 championship on their own merit.
Hochreiner, battling a cranky knee, may have had the best freshman campaign for a lady Bulldog since at least the late 1980s.
Dvorchik finished 18th, setting a personal record and besting her 2016 sectional time at Greystone by nearly two and a half minutes.
First year Runner Emma Gouiran (sophomore) cruised beating her personal best for the season by 3 minutes. Girls’ Captain Lisa Mayevsky and (Freshman) Ciera Corbett rounded out the squad with tremendous efforts and both had personal bests.
Ciara Corbett set a personal best for best for each of the seven races she ran this year. Peaking at the right time, Ciara ran a 13 second average mile faster than she had done at the UCC championships on October 25.
When the announcements were made the Dayton girls finished third. This is believed to be the best girls finish since the late 1980s.
The girls’ team now has advanced to the Group 1 Championship nine of the last fourteen years.
The boys’ team was next to race. The group one section was expected to be very competitive affair and it did not disappoint.
There were 15 teams in the boys’ section with 102 runners competing.
Senior Captain Fabian Mestanza (17 minutes 44 seconds) paced and then outran Junior Adam Cohen (17:46). The combo finished 12th and 13th and in the process both ran the second and third fastest sectional runs by a Dayton boy since 1991.
Much like the girls’ team, the boys ran in a tightly-knit pack.
James Tiu had a terrific day, last year at the sectional, Tiu had run 19:59. This year he ran 18:52 to finish as the third Dayton boy (35th overall).
Super freshman Daniel Birkman-Galao, running in his first sectional championship, ran in 18:55 and finished as the 4th Dayton boy (16th overall). In the process, Daniel topped Ben Caster (class of 2012), freshman record.
The Birkman-Galao brothers along with junior Ben Morley, all running in their first sectional final, came up big.
Ben Morley helped to ensure Dayton would finish in the top five to move on to next week's Group 1 championship by beating Cedar Grove's number five runner.
Senior Horace Giambattista, 19:28 and Junior Pablo Birkman-Galao, 19:30 (21: 00 on same course 9/30/17) also helped by outrunning the fifth runner of many teams to enable Dayton to provide the needed cushion to advance.
The 18:31 split by the first five Dayton runners is the fastest average during the coaching tenure of Dave Campbell.
The Dayton boys have now have qualified seven times in the past twelve years to compete in the Group 1 Championship held at renown Holmdel Park.
The Group 1 Championship will be run on November 11. The girls team will race at 2 p.m. and the boys team will at 3 p.m.