The boys and girls cross country teams at Watchung Hills Regional have been preparing through the summer for this year's competitive season, which opens Sept. 12 with a tri-meet at Phillipsburg.
The teams enter the season with solid senior corps—especially for the girls, with eight returning seniors, including 2011 Skylands Conference First Team selection Sarah Decker.
Running alongside Decker are Jessice Bathlahmy, Leanne Black, Elana Borinsky, Maria Calazans, Courtney Novak, Lexi Simon and Kailie Winston. On the boys side, look for senior captains Stephen Hawkins and Matt Pekarski, and Jonah Balla and Jacob Strock to set the pace.
Decker will be looking to return to the Meet of Champions in November. She finished in 19:35 last season, at no. 37.
Nine-year girls coach Mary Sok and second-year boys coach Mike Porter are looking forward to a competitive season. The teams' first real tests come early in the season—they'll face Hillsborough Sept. 19 and nearby nemesis Ridge in teh Phillipsburg opener.
The coaches are counting on the teams' depth and experience to help them win meets—Hawkins was an All-Somerset team selection and a Skylands Conference Second Team pick, while Piekarski received All-Somerset Third Team honors, last year.
2012 Meet Schedule
Sept 12: v. Phillipsburg & Ridge @ Phillipsburg
Sept. 15: Roxbury meet
Sept 19: v. Hillsborough & North Hunterdon @ Hillsborough
Sept. 22: Warinanco meet
Sept 24: v. Bridgewater & Montgomery @ Natirar
Sept. 29: Garrett Mountain meet
Oct. 3: v. Franklin & Hunterdon Central @ Franklin
Oct. 5: Middle School Meet @ Warren Municipal. Girls race at 4 p.m. Boys race at 4:20 p.m. (rain date Oct. 5)
Oct. 6: Shore Coaches meet @ Holmdel
Oct. 17: Somerset County Championship @ Pleasant Valley
Oct. 25: Skylands Conference Meet @ Natirar 1 p.m.
Nov. 3: State Sectionals @ Warinaco. Group IV boys at 11:40 a.m., girls at 12:30 p.m.
Nov. 10: State Group Meets @ Holmdel. Group IV boys at 12:05 p.m., girls at 12:55pm
Nov. 17: Meet of Champions @ Holmdel. Boys at 11 am, girls at 11:45 a.m..