Cross Country Wins School's First Ever NJISAA Class A State Championship

Linda Flanagan
On November 6, the Kent Place cross country team traveled to Blair Academy, to compete in a fast race that pitted the best prep schools in New Jersey against one another for the NJISAA Prep Championships. The KP harriers stunned everyone winning the event with their disciplined and competitive grit. KPS bested Pingry, Lawrenceville, Trinity Hall, Immaculate Heart, Mount St. Mary, Blair, and Peddie with a final score of 46, finishing 15 points fewer than Pingry’s 61 (low score wins), and securing the championship for the first time in school history.
The gun went off right at 1:30, and our runners embraced the challenge we had put to them in the days leading up to the race. “We’re in it to win it,” we told them. “Don’t wait for the race to unfold—compete from the very first step.” So as not to scare the bejesus out of them, we added “you don’t have to run this race; you get to. And you don’t have to be heroes.” The weather gods smiled on us, lending clear blue skies, a light wind, and temps in the mid-50s—an ideal day to demonstrate their talent.
Which they did.

Sophomore Miranda Lorsbach finished first for KPS, running the varied, loopy course in 19:19 and finishing third overall—a minute and ten seconds faster than her time here a year ago. Second for KP and 7th overall was freshman Lindsay Hausman, who had one of those breakthrough races runners long for. She ran 20:22, a personal best on a challenging course, and her highest place yet this season. Right behind Lindsay was senior Catie Gilhuley, who finished 8th in a time of 20:25. Catie’s consistent effort, her dependable grit in every race, have made her an indispensable team leader; no matter her fatigue, she fights on.

Behind Catie was senior Phoebe Eccles, who finished 14th in a time of 21:03. This was one of Phoebe’s fastest races of the year, freshman Noe Nalavala was right behind Phoebe, finishing 16th overall in 21:07, her second fastest time of the season—an outstanding performance on Blair’s up-and-down course, and a testament to Noe’s inner steel. Senior Xenia Schmitz followed, finishing 31st overall in a time of 22:04—a full minute and 45 seconds faster than what she ran a year ago at Blair and her second speediest race of the season. Senior Maya Vuchic followed, finishing 54th overall in a time of 24:39.
The girls’ race made manifest what we’ve said all along about cross country: it’s a team sport, where everyone’s performance has an impact on the outcome. Yesterday, every girl ran not only for herself but for the team, and our jubilation when we heard the news—Kent Place wins!—forced us into a group huddle where we relished the achievement as a team. Shared victories like this, where success is a function of interdependence and faith, are deeply gratifying, in part because they are so rare. How lucky for all of us to have experienced this success together.
Up next for the harriers is the State Group Meet at Holmdel on Saturday, November 16; our race goes off at noon. Hope to see you there.
Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.