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Ridgewood Girls Cross-Country runner makes history at state-championship meet



Even before Olympia Martin had a major meet title to her name, Ridgewood High School girls cross-country head coach Steve Opremcak knew she had made tremendous strides during the 2015 season.

“This year she just looks like a more experienced and powerful runner,” the coach said days after Martin finished second at the Bergen County Group B race in late October.

Nearly three weeks later, those words appear to be an understatement after the RHS junior ran her way into the record books of North Jersey’s most prestigious cross-country program.

Martin became the first Ridgewood girl since 2001 and just the fifth in program history to win a Group 4 title, claiming the crown in 18:43, ahead of Montclair’s Juliet Kohli (18:50), last Saturday at Holmdel Park.

She joined Margaret Scutro (1984), Jenna Rogers (1993), Celeste Sedo (1997) and Clair Nowakowski (2001) as the only Ridgewood runners to win an individual group title.

“She’s just been incredible this year,” Opremcak said in a phone interview Monday. “Every single day she does everything she’s supposed to do, so you know she’s giving herself the best possible chance to run to her ability because she does everything right.”

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Ridgewood girls cross-country eyeing first State Group 4 crown since 1999


NOVEMBER 13, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2015, 12:31 AM

Each of the past three weeks, the Ridgewood High School girls cross-country team has defended its title successfully at three major meets.

This Saturday, the stakes will be higher when the Maroons seek to capture a championship they haven’t won since 1999, the State Group 4 crown, and in a wide-open field, head coach Steve Opremcak thinks his team has a shot.

But Ridgewood isn’t alone.

“The difference this year is I see any of six teams possibly winning this race, and that’s pretty crazy,” said Opremcak, who mentioned North 2 winner North Hunterdon, Ridge, Central champion Hillsborough, South victor Kingsway and Shawnee as legitimate competitors for the crown.

Ridgewood earned its way to the race at Holmdel Park by winning the North 1, Group 4 championship for the second straight year, topping Montclair and Randolph in a three-team race, 57-64-67, last Saturday at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park.

The win also extended a successful four-week string in which the Maroons have won the Big North Freedom Division meet, Bergen County B race and the Bergen Meet of Champions.

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Ridgewood Girls Cross Country celebrates its 4th straight win and course record at the Bergen County Meet of Champions


Ridgewood Girls Cross Country celebrates its 4th straight win and course record at the Bergen County Meet of Champions

The Lou Molino Bergen County Meet of Champions on Saturday at Darlington Park in Mahwah wasn’t just the fastest ever in the 38 year history of the girls meet, it was also one of the fastest county races in New Jersey history!!!

Just how fast was it???

Four girls broke 18 minutes, led by Catherine Pagano of Northern Highlands, who missed her own course record by one second with a winning time of 17:30!!!

Before the race there had never been more than one girl in a single race go sub 18 at Darlington Park. And before this race only four girls in course history had gone under 18-EVER!!!!!

The sub 18 runners at the Bergen County Meet of Champions. From right to left-Catherine Pagano (Northern Highlands), Julia Guerra (Indian Hills), Sam Halvorsen (Ridgewood), and Carleen Jeffers (Ridgewood)(Jim Lambert | NJ Advance Media)

Behind Pagano was Julia Guerra of Indian Hills, second in 17:57-the sixth fastest time in course history. Ridgewood’s Sam Halvorsen was third in 17:59, the seventh fastest time in course history, and Ridgewood’s Carleen Jeffers was fourth in 17:59, now tied with Halvorsen for the seventh fastest time ever run at Darlington.

Want more?

How about the Ridgewood girls!!!

Ridgewood, No. 7 in the state, averaged 18:42.8, shredding the course record average of 19:00.6 set last week by Northern Highlands.

It was a truly epic day as Bergen County’s finest simply crushed the course!!!!

That’s what happens when great runners, good conditions and a deep talent pool collide!

Ridgewood’s record breaking average led to a fourth straight team title and record 28th overall as Ridgewood outscored runner-up and No. 8 Northern Highlands, 45-66. No. 18 IHA was third with 79.

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Ridgewood Girls Cross-Country impressive at Shore Coaches Invitational


Ridgewood Girls Cross-Country impressive at Shore Coaches Invitational

October 10, 2014    Last updated: Friday, October 10, 2014, 12:31 AM
By Greg Tartaglia
The Ridgewood News

Each year, for preparation purposes, the Ridgewood High School girls cross-country team enters the Shore Coaches Invitational on the first Saturday in October.

The Maroons’ main goal is to log some miles on the Holmdel Park course that hosts state-championship meets at season’s end. The Invitational also affords them an early opportunity to see where they stack up against statewide competition.

The verdict from Saturday’s Shore championship division race? RHS is in a short stack.

Led by junior Sam Halvorsen and senior Carleen Jeffers, Ridgewood averaged 20:17 per runner and finished second to Red Bank Catholic, 50-71, while holding off Princeton (72 points) and West Windsor-Plainsboro South (73).

“We had a great day,” Maroon coach Jacob Brown commented on his website. He added that “171 schools entered the seven varsity races, and 124 finished with team scores. We were second overall on a time basis.”

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