Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Top Five Gives Scarlets a Title

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Top Five Gives Scarlets a Title

Article excerpt

WOODLAND PARK -- Dennis Murri didn't expect much from his Ridgefield Park boys cross-country team this season. The Scarlets hadn't beaten archrival Cliffside Park since 2011, and the Red Raiders went into the season favored to win their fourth straight Big North American title despite the graduation of four top senior runners.

But from the first day of practice Murri began to like his team more and more, and after the Scarlets upset an injury-riddled Cliffside Park team in a dual meet, he began to think this team could exceed expectations.

Friday, Ridgefield Park proved its coach to be correct, placing five runners in the top 12 and comfortably defeating the defending champions, 36-48, despite a close individual win by Jason Argueta of CP over RP sophomore Derek Lewandowski.

Ridgefield Park's boys were joined by the Don Bosco and River Dell boys and Cliffside Park, IHA and River Dell girls as division- winning teams on the final day of the three day Big North meet at Garret Mountain.

"These kids just kept working and working and got better each week," said Murri. "Derek reminds me of a young Brendan Conway [who won the 2011 league individual title for Ridgefield Park] and Brendan is helping train him now. Derek is tough and he could end up being the best cross-country runner I've coached."

The other five divisions went pretty much according to form, with individual performances by girls division winners Giavanna Tabbachino of IHA (United) and Shannon Goria of River Dell (Patriot) the highlights.

Tabbachino ran 19:26, the third fastest time ever run at Garret for an IHA runner, and led the Blue Eagles to a 23-33 win over Holy Angels.

"I really wanted to win this," said Tabbachino, who ran behind now graduated all-North Jersey standouts Erin Ahearn and Colleen Buckley her first two years. "It's important for us to beat Holy Angels because they were close to us in the dual meet. …

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