In a year that has been anything but normal thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, runners from the Avon High cross country team found a little bit of normalcy in their lives on Saturday.
Several runners ran at the East Coast cross country championships, an invitational meet in Holmdel Park in Holmdel, New Jersey. It was cold, raw and raining. The course was slick with mud – a typical late-season cross country meet.
Due COVID-19 restrictions in New Jersey, the meet was limited to athletes from just New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and Delaware. The boys and girls races were split to help reduce the size of each respective race and encourage social distancing as best as one can in a competitive race.
Avon junior Jack Martin had the best time of the day for the Falcons with a time of 17:23.5 over the 3.1 mile course. Martin finished 47th in the boys gold race while his classmates ran in the navy race. Race organizers combined the race results together afterward for an overall finish.
Teammate Carver Morgan finished 28th in the navy race with a time of 18:13.4, closely followed by Luke Hester with a time of 18:13.6. Nick Alphonso (35, 18:33), Mason Bussiere (40, 18:45), Rodrigo Portal (44, 18:56) and Jevonte Eaves (48, 19:07) also ran in the navy race.
Avon’s Mareen Ek ran the girls navy race and finished 29th in her race with a time of 21:38.4.
“It’s important to remember the caliber of athletes in attendance,” Avon High boys cross country coach Courtney Fusco said. “It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that this meet saw the best long distance runners in the Northeast and that this might be the first time that Avon might have ever had that kind of talent pool to compete at such a level.”
The top time of the day went to Nick Bendtsen of Wolcott High, who surged at the end of the race to beat Conard High junior Gavin Sherry for the first time by a half second. Bendtsen won the race in 15:40.0 while Sherry was a step behind in 15:40.5. Callum Sherry, Gavin’s twin brother was third with a time of 16:00. Martin ran in the gold race that was won by Bendtsen and finished 47th. Overall, he was 58th.
The top girls time of the day went to Pomperaug’s Kate Wiser with a winning time of 17:26, the third best girls time ever on this course. She beat All-American Charlotte Bednar of Lawrenceville, N.J., by 21 seconds and was 33 seconds ahead of Marianapolis Prep’s Sydney Masciarelli, who finished third.
Ek finished 79th overall once results from the two races were merged together.
Entry into the race was by invitation only.