With three freshmen and no seniors in the lineup, Highland came out on top in a wild four-way team battle at the Camden County XC Championships at Timber Creek Park in Gloucester Township.
The top four schools all finished within 19 points of each other, and Highland edged second-place Haddon Heights 76-78, with Camden Catholic third at 88 and Sterling fourth with 93 points.
After three runners, Highland was third, behind Heights and Sterling, and after four runners one point separated Highland (48), Camden Catholic (48) and Heights (49), with Sterling (56) not far behind.
So this one definitely came down to the fifth runners, and Highland’s fifth runner, sophomore Nuruddin Wise, crossed one spot and 78/100ths of a second before Heights’ fifth runner, junior Colin Duffy. It was that close (although Highland would have won a sixth-runner tie at 77-all).
Highland’s lead group included sophomore Ben Woodward in second [17:07] and junior Michael Fillipo in fourth [17:29] in the top five, backed up by freshmen Jeremiah Clark [18:32] and Chris Corsair [18:33] in 20th and 22nd and Wise [18:45] in 28th.
Also running for Highland were freshman Yarayah Hawkins [30th in 18:53] and sophomore Mike Minchak [47th in 19:29].
With Clark, Corsair and Hawkins, Highland had the first three freshmen across the line.
Haddon Heights countered with three in the top 10 — seniors Matthew Krogstad [17:53] and Eric Rosenheim [18:01] and sophomore Brian Alexander [18:15] in sixth, eighth and 10th — and then sophomore Kevin Sankey [18:41] and Duffey [18:45] in 25th and 29th.
Camden Catholic was led by sophomores Richard Castaneda, Matt Coffey and Ray Derman in fifth, 13th and 14th. Sterling senior Jimmy Macpherson was third, junior teammate Cajan Ejianreh ninth and sophomore Manas Gupta 12th.
Senior Robert Abrams of Cherry Hill West was the overall winner, finishing 12 meters ahead of Woodard.
Also in the top 10 was Timber Creek senior Andrew Quigley [7th in 17:54].