Fresh off winning its first Skyland Conference championship in nine years earlier this month, the Hillsborough High School girls cross-country team added more gold to its 2022 ledger on Oct. 20 at the Somerset County Championships that were held at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge.
Coach Richard Refi watched his Raiders beat out Pingry by three points, 58-55, in the 5K race to capture the team’s first county championship since 2015 and 11th in program history.
“We really rose to the occasion to win the meet,” said Refi about Hillsborough winning the Somerset County championship. “Pingry is a really good team. It took a lot to beat them. Every point mattered.”
Three of Hillsborough’s seven runners placed in the Top-10 to help lead them to victory.
Senior Anna King posted the fastest time for the Raiders, coming in fourth place individually with a time of 19:48.00.
Finishing quickly behind King was junior Sabrina Sardar, who ran a personal best 19:53 to finish sixth in the race for the Raiders.
Junior Liana Dudajek’s eighth place finish at 20:04.00 made Hillsborough the only team out of the 13 schools competing in the race to have three runners place in the Top-10.
Both sophomore Nivedha Sundarrajan and senior Lauren Barker scored huge points by placing in the Top-20 to help Hillsborough hold off Pingry and become county champions for the first time in seven years.
Sundarrajan ran a personal best 20:44.00 to place 17th in the event, while Barker came in 20th with a time of 20:56.00.
The scores of the top-five runners from each school are tallied up to determine the team’s point total for the event.
Juniors Adrianna Fetaya and Emily Miller also competed in the county championships for Hillsborough, and both runners finished in the Top-60.
All together, the seven Hillsborough runners tallied a combined time of 1:45.15 and an average time of 20:17. Those are the fastest times the seven runners have ran as a group, according to Refi.
“Things are really coming around at the right time of the season,” Refi said. “The girls have a lot of confidence right now.”
Next for Hillsborough is the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV Championships, which are scheduled to take place on Oct. 29 at Thompson Park in Jamesburg.
If Hillsborough finishes as a team in the Top-5, they will advance to compete in the NJSIAA Group IV Championships that will be held in Holmdel on Nov. 5.
Refi said he really likes where his team is at as a whole heading into the sectional tournament and believes his team’s confidence will help each runner do well in the race.
No matter what the results are at the sectional tournament, he is very proud of what his group of Raiders have accomplished already this season and is looking forward to seeing how each of them do in the upcoming race.
“We’re going to go after it and see what happens,” Refi added.