HAMILTON - A not-so-familiar name on the high school cross country circuit, at least for now, was at the top of the girls’ results yesterday at Veterans Park.
In a five-team dual where the headliners figured to be Princeton and Hopewell Valley, Nottingham freshman Grace Dwyer cleared the 3.1-mile course in 18:50, a 56-second margin of victory.
Dwyer, who finished fifth at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championship youth race last December, wasted no time in establishing herself at Nottingham, breaking the school record at Veterans Park three weeks ago in the season’s first dual meet.
After the third of the five regular-season duals in the Colonial Valley Conference, Dwyer said her goals remained high for her rookie season.
“I want to get first in (the Mercer County meet),” Dwyer, who picked up cross country in seventh grade, said. “And I want to go to the (NJSIAA) sectionals and the group meet, hopefully go to the Meet of Champs.”
Her coach at Nottingham, Melissa Foley, in her own rookie season as the program’s skipper, had high praise for the standout Northstar.
“She came in ready to go,” Foley said. “She had a very strong foundation. We’re just working with that and keeping her constant with her workouts and trying to improve her time, which is already amazing.”
The Hopewell Valley-Princeton girls’ race did turn out to be the closest team event. Even though Hopewell Valley took four of the top seven spots head-to-head, Princeton’s depth allowed the Little Tigers to overcome the Bulldogs, 27-29.
Princeton’s boys had a much easier time, picking up head-to-head wins against Hopewell Valley and Trenton while also sharing the course with Nottingham and Robbinsville.
The Little Tiger boys are one CVC race removed from the only race of the five in which they shared a course with West Windsor-Plainsboro South, the overwhelming county favorite on the boys’ side.
Even so, Princeton coach John Woodside said that with two of WW-P South’s top runners not competing that day and his own top runner taking a fall on the course, last week’s race wasn’t a good barometer of where his team stands against the powerhouse Pirates.
The Tigers competed outside the county last weekend at the Passaic County Coaches Invitational at Garret Mountain in Woodland Park, winning a group race by edging out Middletown North, 68-72. Princeton will head out of town again this weekend, this time to the annual Shore Coaches Invitational.
“That was a much better barometer of where we are,” Woodside said of last Saturday’s race. “I think today was a good day. I think the kids ran well. They ran competitively, and I think they took care of business. I like the way they got it done.”
WW-P North figures to be the Princeton boys’ biggest competition at next week’s regular-season meet at Mercer County Park, which will also include Nottingham, Steinert and Lawrence.
“We haven’t beaten (WW-P) North in six years,” Woodside said. “They’re always great. I don’t even want to start thinking about that yet. We’ll get a chance to see what they look like on Saturday.”
Team scores: Nottingham 24, Trenton 35; Princeton 15, Trenton 50; Robbinsville 20, Trenton 43; Hopewell Valley 15, Nottingham 47; Robbinsville 18, Nottingham 41; Princeton 19, Hopewell Valley 41.
Individuals (Top 10 of 96): 1. Luke Bozich (P) 16:19, 2. Tom Teachen (HV), 16:25, 3. Kevin Vadhat (P) 16:30, 4. Conor Donahue (P) 16:50, 5. Jacob Rist (P) 16:51, 6. Matt Wong (P) 16:52, 7. Anders Berg (P) 16:57, 8. Chris Gutierrez (HV) 17:01, 9. (Name Unavailable) (HV) 17:07, 10. (Name Unavailable) (HV) 17:15.
Team scores: Nottingham 21, Trenton 34; Princeton 16, Trenton 47; Robbinsville 20, Trenton 43; Hopewell Valley 20, Nottingham 43; Robbinsville 20, Nottingham 43; Princeton 27, Hopewell Valley 29.
Individuals (Top 10 of 76): 1. Grace Dwyer (N) 18:50, 2. Haley Mahn (HV) 19:46, 3. Amelia Whaley (P) 19:56, 4. Julie Bond (P) 20:13, 5. Casey Quinto (HV) 20:25, 6. Mary Sutton (P) 20:31, 7. Linnea Compton (HV) 20:32, 8. Caitlyn Murray (HV) 20:33, 9. Lou Mialhe (P) 20:45, 10. Aut Ma (T) 20:46.
at Veterans Park, 3.1-mile course