Two of South Jersey’s fastest underclassmen, Clearview junior Anas Bensaoud and Triton sophomore Dennis Fortuna, are on their way to the Meet of Champions as wild-card entries into the boys race.
Bensaoud placed 12th in the Group 4 race at states in 16:31 over 5,000 hilly meters at Holmdel and Fortuna was 11th in the Group 3 race in 16:33. They were 34th- and 37th-fastest from all six races at Saturday’s various state meets and 8th- and 10th-fastest among South Jersey runners.
Bensaoud was 8th-fastest junior from all the state championship races and fastest from South Jersey, three seconds faster than Cherry Hill East’s Aidan Eyre.
This will be his second trip to the M-of-C. He placed 37th last year, when he was the No. 2 sophomore finisher.
This has been a very consistent season for Bensaoud, who was 3rd in the Gloucester County meet, won the Tri-County and was 5th at sectionals.
Fortuna was the 4th-fastest sophomore at states and the fastest from South Jersey. He’s the 4th-fastest Triton runner ever at Holmdel, behind Robert Rawls [16:15 in 2010], Rudy Belko [16:21 in 2005] and Matt Ruhl [16:24 in 1996].
Fortuna has come a long way over the past year. He didn’t break 18 minutes at sectionals last year but ran 16:09 on the same Delsea course this month before his huge race at states.
The Meet of Champions boys race is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Holmdel County Park.