Peter Simpson ran his first lifetime cross country race two months ago.
Now he’s the New Jersey’s fastest freshman.
Simpson, a freshman at Moorestown, began his high school XC career in an Olympic Conference batch meet on Sept. 14 on his home course and placed 4th in 18:18, only 27 seconds behind teammate Colin Shand, who won the race.
He ran 17:30 in his second race on the DREAM Park super-speedway before a real breakthrough in the Olympic Conference Championships, also at DREAM Park, where he ran 16:20 and placed 9th.
Simpson lowered his all-course PR to 16:10 with a 9th at sectionals, also at DREAM Park, and then tore up Holmdel County Park this past Saturday in 17:14 for 25th in the state Group 3 race on a very warm day that made fast times difficult.
That was the fastest time by a freshman at Holmdel this year, six seconds faster than the 17:20 run by Manalapan’s Clay Stevens in the Group 4 race. Haddonfield’s Ryan Gibson, who ran 17:30 in the Group 2 race, wasn’t far behind.
Simpson is the fastest Burlington County freshman at Holmdel since Shawnee’s Connor Herr ran 17:09 at the Group 3 state meet in 2008.
Interestingly, the fastest freshman on any course in New Jersey this year was Delsea’s Matthew Littlehales, who ran 16:03 in a Tri-County Conference batch meet at Salem Tech in Mannington Township. I don’t know anything about that Salem Tech course but safe guess it’s flat.
Littlehales actually finished one place behind Simpson at sectionals, taking 10th in 16:12. That should be a terrific rivalry for a long time.
Simpson just missed qualifying for Meet of Champions as a wild-card, but a terrific option if he chooses to continue his season would be what’s now a combined freshman/sophomore race at the Eastbay (formerly Kinney and Foot Locker) Northeast Regionals at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on Nov. 26.