MORRIS PLAINS, NJ — Running in the North 2 Group Championships, held at Greystone Park, the Jonathan Dayton Boys and Girls Track and Field teams both looked to punch their ticket to the State Championship.

The way to make states is to either finish as a top 5 team in the group or as a top fifteen individual.

In the first races of the morning, the girls team was first on the docket. Junior Captain Abbey Hockreiner finished fourth overall at the event. Hochreiner has been the top Dayton runner for the girls program the past two years.

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Junior Emily Kessel finished eleventh and bettered her 2018 time by nearly a minute. Sophomore Adriana Nguyen ran her personal best, finishing fourteenth.  Senior Captain Lily Dvorchik also bettered her 2018 time by nearly two minutes.

According to coaches, Dvorchik may be the first girl in a number of years at Jonathan Dayton to be a top-7 runner that made it to the Group 1 championship for all four years of her high school career.

Senior Captain Catriona Corbett made a valiant effort to return from an injury, but during warmups her injury flared. Corbett made her presence felt by cheering on her teammates on before, during and after the race.

As a result, Senior Emma Gouiran found out she was running 50 minutes before the race started and had her best race of the year, finishing nineteenth. Gouiran was the fifth best Dayton runner on the day.

Freshmen Ayana Alles and Claudia Reines finished twenty-first and twenty-third respectively, both running well in their first group championship.

The girls team qualified for the Group 1 championship for the sixth straight year, finishing second in the sectional for the second straight year. 

“I'm very proud of the girls to run so well in such trying conditions," said girls coach Jen Martinez. "We lost to McNair and there is no shame in that. They are a very good program year in and year out. Our girls will get another chance next weekend to take them on.”

After the girls were done, the boys took to the course, facing off against thirteen group one teams. 

Junior Captain Daniel Galao Birkmann placed fifth overall, while freshman Colin Riley finished tenty-fourth, and running the fastest 5k time ever by a freshman at Dayton in the process.

Running a personal best in the biggest meet of the season were Junior Harrison Turner and sophomore Ian McLeer.  Strong runs were had by juniors Luke Hernandez, Jordy Frei and freshman Jaydan Martinez.

“Daniel Galao Birkmann has just been outstanding this season," said boys coach Dave Campbell.  "At the end of the first mile he was seventh, and worked his way up in a very competitive race.”

“Riley has been just a terrific find," Campbell added. "He really came out of nowhere to become our second-best runner and has a chance to be one of the best ever when it is all said and done.”

Dayton graduated five of its seven top runners from its 2018 team which According to Campbell, was the best team ever statistically during his 14-year tenure so far.

“I am very pleased with how well the boys competed," Campbell said. "We had a lot of questions before the start of the season and the boys ended up giving the right answers.  We are in good shape with such youth in both programs.”

The boys finished 5th out of 12 teams and will run in the Group 1 championship next Saturday at the vaunted Holmdel course.