Elijah Whitaker became Glassboro’s first sectional XC champ in 27 years Saturday at DREAM Park in Logan Township.
Whitaker outraced Audubon junior Aiden Williams to the finish line to win the South Jersey Group 1 race, Whitaker finishing in 16:09 and Williams 15 meters back in 16:13.
Whitaker became the Bulldogs’ first sectional winner since Pat Ryan won the South Jersey Group 1 race at Kingsway in 1995. Ryan was the third straight Glassboro winner, following Tom Horne in both 1993 and 1994. Glassboro actually went 1-2 in 1993 with Horne and Tim Graves.
Whitaker has come a long way since placing 17th at last year’s sectionals, where he was only the eighth underclassman across the finish line. His time this year was nearly two minutes faster than the 17:54 he ran at DREAM Park at last year’s sectionals.
Glassboro hadn’t had a top-10 finisher at sectionals in 14 years, since Lamere Buchanan placed 8th in the 2008 meet at Delsea.
Whitaker will become Glassboro’s first representative at the state Group 1 meet since Buchanan placed 34th at the 2008 meet. The state Group 1 race is scheduled for noon at Holmdel County Park.
Horne won the state Group 1 title by more than 40 seconds in 1993, with Graves taking 3rd. Horne was 3rd in 1994 and Ryan won the state title in 1995.