HOLMDEL - Louis Corgliano runs the hills of Holmdel Park as often as possible.
He'll remember Saturday afternoon's race more than most outings.
The Hammonton High School senior got his first win at the historic venue. Corgliano won the Varsity race at the Shore Coaches Invitational. He covered Holmdel's 3.1-mile course on a steamy humid afternoon in 16 minutes, 18 seconds. Ian Clarke of Old Tappan ran 16:33 to finish second.
Corgliano finished second in this meet as a sophomore and third as a junior.
"This (win) means a lot," Corgliano said. "It didn't work out (the past two years) but (Saturday) it felt good to get the win."
The Shore Coaches Invitational featured many of the state's top teams and runners. They competed in seven boys and seven girls race based primarily on school enrollment. Holmdel is one of the country's most famous cross country courses and it's the site of the state group championships and the Meet of Champions in November. Saturday's races serve as a preview for those events.
Corgliano's performance highlighted a solid effort by Press-area runners. Danielle Leavitt of Lacey Township ran 19:19 to finish sixth in the girls championship race. Haddonfield freshman Briana Gess won that race in18:36.
Corgliano expected more competition is his race. But several of his top rivals elected to run with their schools in the boys championship race, which was for elite teams.
Corgliano brought a simple strategy to the starting line. He tried to build as big a lead as possible in the first mile.
"My coach (Dave Majofsky) said to set a hard pace because we want to try to get ready to win some of the big races (at the end of the season)," Corgliano said. "I need to learn how to go out with the pack. I kind of sat back last year. I wanted to see (Saturday) who would try to run with me in the first mile."
No one did. Corgliano controlled the race from the start and emerged from the woods onto the final straightaway with no runners near him.
Despite the humid conditions, he didn't appear any worse for the wear a few minutes after the finish.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I probably should have pushed myself harder. But I was really just trying to get my legs loose."
Corgliano often makes trips north to run at Holmdel. He ran the course five times last Saturday.
"We don't have any hills like at Holmdel down in South Jersey, " he said.
Corgliano said he will now focus on the South Jersey Group III championships to be held Nov. 9 at Delsea Regional. Corgliano is one of the favorites in the race along with Steve Maine of Highland Regional and Kyle Kroon of Toms River South.
"I have a really tough matchup with two of the top guys in the state," Corgliano said.
In other races, Kaitlyn Mooney of Southern Regional finished sixth in the girls Varsity A race in 20:08.
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