Great race Saturday morning between Highland senior Cole Wassell and Triton junior Dennis Fortuna at the South Jersey Open, with Wassell edging Fortuna by 20 meters.
Wassell ran 15:55 and Fortuna 16:00 in the Morning Pod race at DREAM Park in Logan Township.
Wassell becomes the first Highland runner to win an individual title since Jay Wassell – Cole’s father – won the 1994 title at Kingsway in 15:42.
Wassell is the fifth runner to break 16 minutes on the DREAM Park 5K layout, which has been in use for three years:
15:12 … Ethan Wechsler [Cherokee], 2019
15:52 … Connor Melko [Bishop Eustace], 2018
15:53 … Brady Shute [Gateway-Woodbury], 2019
15:54 … Oliver Adler [Cherry Hill East], 2019
15:55 … Cole Wassell [Highland], 2020
Highland finished with a 62-77 margin of victory over Clearview, with Triton third with 99 points.
This is Highland’s first team title at the South Jersey Open since 2011, when they outscored Paul VI 71-87.
Sophomores Gavin Gallo and Cole Knoedler also placed in the top 10 for Highland, Gallo 8th in 17:12 and Knoedler 10th in 17:27.
Also in the top 10 were Clearview senior Anas Bensaoud [3rd in 16:32], Mainland junior Linden Wineland [4th in 16:42], Camden Catholic junior Billy Clewell [5th in 16:57], Triton junior Caleb Messenger [6th in 17:03], Wildwood freshman Jorge Cruz [7th in 17:07] and Schalick junior Scott Hubbard [9th in 17:24]. Hubbard raced a day after winning the Salem County title.
Cruz’s time is No. 2 in course history by a freshman, five seconds off the record of 17:02 set last year by Cherokee’s Conor Jacob in the JV race of the Olympic Conference meet.
Highland’s other scorers were sophomores Anthony Imperatore [18th in 17:51] and Jake Smith [25th in 18:16]. Their 6th and 7th runners, were Dylan Carrels [18:24], another sophomore, and Aziz Muhammad-Kane, a freshman [18:47].