Barnegat High School's Matt Nelson and Lacey Township's Danielle Leavitt will both look to earn their second straight Group II crown at the South Jersey Cross Country Championships today at Delsea Regional High School starting at 9 a.m.
The top 10 individuals and the top five teams from each group will advance to the state Group Championships on Nov. 17 at Holmdel Park.
Leavitt's team took fourth place last year and the Ocean City girls team was right behind them in fifth.
Red Raiders standout MaryKate Brelsford finished fourth last season. Teammate Bridget Flynn finished sixth in Non-Public last year competing for Holy Spirit and will run in Group II for the first time.
Last year, the Southern Regional girls team took third in competitive Group IV. Jillian Smith led the Rams with a seventh-place finish. Egg Harbor Township's Abby Shafer is also a favorite this year. Shafer led all locals in Group IV in 2011 with sixth place.
The Southern Regional boys team finished third in Group IV last year. Ocean City took second in Group III and Kevin Scott finished fifth. Hammonton's breakout runner Louis Corgliano finished sixth. Both are favorites again this year and expected to reach the state championships.
Pleasantville brothers Isaac and Jacob Clark took third and fourth, respectively, in Group II last year. The Greyhounds finished third as a team.