Louis Corgliano of Hammonton High School and Bridget Flynn of Ocean City stepped to the starting line of the Shore Coaches Cross Country Invitational with specific goals Saturday afternoon.
After running the hills of Holmdel Park, they crossed the finish line with their goals met and their confidence boosted for the rest of the season.
Corgliano wanted to finish third in the boys Varsity C race, and he accomplished that by finishing the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 39 seconds.
"I texted with my dad before the race and we said, 'Top three would be a great finish,' " Corgliano said. "We'd take top three as a victory."
Flynn wanted to break 20 minutes. She did that running 19:51 to finish fourth in the girls Varsity B race.
"That was my only goal coming here," Flynn said. "I got under 20, and I felt good doing it."
In addition to Corgliano and Murphy, Danielle Leavitt of Lacey Township finished third in the girls championship race.
The meet featured nearly every top runner and team in the state. They competed in seven boys and seven girls races based primarily on enrollment.
Holmdel Park in Monmouth County is the site of the state group championships and the Meet of Champions in November. Saturday's event gave the runners a chance to gauge where they are halfway through the season.
"I'm using these early races to kind of find a strategy for the more important races," Leavitt said.
A brisk beginning
The boys Varsity C race Corgliano ran in featured two of the state's top runners in Ben Malone of Pascack Valley of Bergen County and Nick Costello of Delsea Regional.
Malone won in 16:12, while Costello ran 16:22.
"The race went out fast," Corgliano said. "I knew (Malone and Costello) were the two people I'd have to go after in this race."
Malone and Costello pulled away from Corgliano at the start of the final mile.
"I was just worrying about third place from there," Corgliano said.
In the boys Varsity B competition, Kevin Scott of Ocean City ran 16:49 to finish third.
A new standard
Flynn, a junior, had never broken 20 minutes at Holmdel before Saturday.
Freshman Gracie Dwyer of Hamilton North (Mercer County) won the Varsity B race in 19:16. Flynn sprinted down the final straightaway.
"I felt good," she said. "Maybe I could have gone faster at some points."
Flynn, a Margate resident, ran for Holy Spirit as a sophomore. She transferred to Ocean City as a School Choice student.
Flynn is still adjusting to her new team and school.
"Everything is different," she said. "I like them both. I did love Spirit, but I'm liking this."
Leavitt competed in the girls championship race, which featured some of the state's top teams and runners.
She finished third in 19:29 - the fastest time by any local girl Saturday. Amanda Rickert of Charter School of Wilmington won in 18:57.
Leavitt, who won the Ocean County and South Jersey Group III titles last fall, said leg cramps bothered her during the race. Leavitt ran 19:03 at last year's Shore Coaches Invitational.
"I'm not completely disappointed in my time," she said. "I made a few minor mistakes and (if not for them), I could have been ahead of where I was last year."
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Top10 local boys
Louis Corgliano, Hammonton, 16:39; Salman Khalid, Absegami, 16:46; Kevin Scott, Ocean City, 16:49; Mark Kundrotas, Hammonton, 17:13; Louis Paone, Ocean City, 17:17; Sean Howley, Southern Regional, 17:22; Nick Nocco, Southern, 17:23; Cody Raynor, Southern, 17:26; David Gillhooley, Ocean City, 17:27; Ryan Herlihy, Middle Township, 17:30.
Top 10 local girls
Danielle Leavitt, Lacey Township, 19:29; Bridget Flynn, Ocean City, 19:51; Jillian Smith, Southern, 20:21; Mary Kate Brelsford, Ocean City, 20:29; Jami Difilippo, Southern, 20:47; Victoria Thaler, Millville, 20:56; Abby Gauthier, Lacey, 21:13; Epiphany Grisbaum, Ocean City, 21:20; Lisa Testa, Buena, 21:20; and Kristin Siegle, Buena Regional, 21:25