Anas Bensaoud of Clearview has emerged this fall as one of the leading freshman runners in New Jersey this year.
As a middle schooler, Bensaoud placed second at the South Jersey Open Middle School race last fall, covering the 2,500-meter course at Delsea in 8:54.15.
He opened his scholastic career last month with a sixth-place finish in the Cherokee Challenge freshman race, where he ran 10:42 over two miles and was the top South Jersey finisher.
Then at the South Jersey Shootout, he skipped the freshman race in favor of the Varsity 1-2-3 race and was Clearview’s No. 2 runner, covering the 5,000-meter course at Rowan in 16:59. Senior Colin Gardina was the Pioneer’s top finisher that day in 10th with a 16:50.
Bensaoud placed 13th in the Tri-County Championships in 17:11, where he was Clearview’s No. 1 runner and the only freshman under 18:40, and Clearview placed fourth out of 17 schools.
Then this past weekend, Bensaoud got his first crack at the historic 5,000-meter layout at Holmdel County Park, and instead of racing in the freshman race, he ran in the Varsity A race with his teammates and finished 36th overall in 17:36, one second and two spots behind Gardina.
Bensaoud was the only freshman under 18 minutes in the Varsity A race and the No. 2 freshman in the entire meet behind only Edwin Klanke of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, who ran 17:21 and placed 29th in the Varsity B race.
The only other freshmen under 18 minutes in the various Shore Coaches races were Will McGlynn of Westfield (17:41 in the JV A race) and Domenick Wallace of Morris Hills (17:56 in the Varsity C race).
Clearview runs in the Gloucester County Championships on Thursday afternoon in West Deptford.