Grace Wassell became the 1st girl ever from Highland to win an Eastern States title when she won the two-mile Tuesday night at the Armory.
Wassell ran 11:31.62 for the full two miles, finishing 40 meters ahead of 2nd-place Anna Heras of Point Pleasant Boro, who ran 11:40.45.
Wassell, Heras and Robin Roth of Princeton separated from the pack early, and with about 10 laps to go Wassell and Heras gapped Roth. Wassell began opening up a lead on Heras with about a mile to go and ran the last several laps solo.
Wassell is the 4th South Jersey girl to win the Easterns two-mile, following Bishop Eustace’s Ann Klocke in 1996, Cinnaminson’s Megham Malloy in 2011 and Mainland Regional’s Alyssa Aldridge in 2018.
Highland has had a couple previous Easterns winners. Kevin Pumphrey won the two-mile in 9:22.67 in 1986, and Floyd Whitaker doubled the long jump and triple jump in 2020, the last time the meet was held.
This was the 87th running of the Easterns and the 47th running of the girls meet, which was held in Boston from 1980 through 1996, Jadwin Gym in 1997 and at the Armory since 1998.
Wassell, the three-time South Jersey Group 3 XC champ, has run 2:16.68 and 5:01.96 this year. She ran 11:13.54 in a much deeper two-mile in Virginia back in January.
She’s expected to run the 1,600 Saturday at the Meet of Champions. She’s the No. 9 seed with that 5:01.96. She also qualified in the 800.