WOODLAND PARK — Injuries and defections have hampered the Glen Rock boys team all season. A chance at a third straight NJIC Colonial division cross-country title, so likely after last fall, seemed almost beyond the Panthers’ grasp.
“But we knew how good we could be when we got our whole team out on the course,” said Glen Rock coach Kara Grady. “And this was the first time all year we could do that fully healthy.”
And the Panthers delivered Tuesday at Garret Mountain, placing six runners in the top 26 on a day that no other team could place more than four and avenging an early season dual meet loss to Pompton Lakes, winning 70-79 in the day’s closest boys race.
Eastern Christian’s girls also won their third straight Colonial title, shaking off a 1-3-5 finish by Rutherford for a 32-34 win.
Bogota swept the Patriot titles and Secaucus won both individual and both team titles in the Meadowlands division, the first time any Secaucus team swept individual and team titles in any league. Glen Rock’s win was a true team effort.
“We had some injuries and some kids didn’t come out,” said Glen Rock co-captain Andrew Brennan, whose strong second-place finish in a personal best 17:18 led the Panthers. “But we had a pretty good pack all year and I knew we would have our best race today.”
Co-captain Sean Browne, who had a 40-second personal best at Garret and finished 14th, said that the early season was a little rough.
“The first few weeks were difficult, but everyone kept working hard and stayed together,” Browne said. “And this was our first goal.”
The second is to win the Bergen C race Saturday at Darlington for Glen Rock’s first boys title since 2001.
Stan Fryczynski is the only cross-country coach in Secaucus’ history, and this was one of the highlights of his long coaching career.
“The boys especially have been a team in every sense of the word, way back to the beginning of the summer,” Fryczynski said. “All 15 of the varsity and junior varsity kids met every Tuesday and Thursday and most Saturday mornings at the high school and ran together since July 1. They bought into the team concept and this is the result.”
Matt Olive won the race in 18:15 and the Patriots put five others in the top 10 to earn the win.
Fantuazzi ran a speedy 16:29 and won by 250 meters three days before he battles for the Passaic County title, also at Garret.
“I got a lot of rest and I was ready to run fast today,” said Fantuazzi, one of the favorites on Friday. “I’ll be ready for Friday and let my running do the talking.”
Maldonado held off Jovanie Sotomayor of Bogota in a personal Garret best of 16:54 and seems to have shaken off some early-season doldrums.
“I’m much more focused on running now,” said Maldonado, the favorite to repeat as the Bergen D champ. “I put 450 miles in during the summer but had a lot of work in school early in the year and didn’t get enough rest. But I’m ready now.”
Elizabeth O’Brien became the first Bogota girl or boy to win three straight league titles, and led an impressive 1-2-3 finish for the Bucs, in 21:03, two seconds faster than Katie Sullivan of Rutherford ran in winning the Colonial title.