Briana Gess had won a Meet of Champions title in cross country and three in outdoor track, but until Sunday she had never won an indoor Meet of Champions.
She put an end to that winning a crazy last-lap battle with North Hunterdon sophomore Elena DiMarcello in the 1,600-meter run at the Bubble.
Gets ran 4:59.04 to DiMarcello’s 4:59.05 to become only the second Haddonfield girl ever to win a Meet of Champions title indoors.
Olympian Erin Donohue won the 3,200 with a since-broken meet-record 10:38.90 in the 3,200 back in 2001 at Jadwin Gym.
Gess has run faster – she was third in last year’s Meet of Champions with a 4:51.60 and has run as fast as 4:51.44 for a full mile indoors and 4:45.97 for 1,600 meters outdoors – but this may have been her guttiest win ever.
Gess led most of the race before DiMarcello – who ran 4:56 last spring – made a move on the last lap and actually took the lead. Gess regained it on the final straightaway and won by the equivalent of about one inch.
Incredibly, Gess is the first South Jersey girl in 14 years to win the Meet of Champions 1,600. Willingboro’s Brittnee Bynoe was the last to do it, running 5:06.53 as a freshman in 2003 at Jadwin.
She’s also the first girl ever from a Camden County school to win the indoor M-of-C 1,600 in the meet’s 39-year history.
Here’s the short list of all indoor Meet of Champions 1,600-meter run winners from South Jersey:
1982 … Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 4:55.7
1983 … Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 4:49.5
1985 … Ruth Lockbaum [Glassboro], 4:56.0
1994 … Liz Moore [Shawnee], 5:09.46
2003 … Brittnee Bynoe [Willingboro], 5:06.53
2017 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 4:59.94