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Jan 02, 2020

Reese Fahys Leads Middletown South Girls’ Cross Country to Group State Title

By Les Pierce

From left: Reese Fahys, Emma Buthorn, Gwen Afanasewicz, Michelle Coyotl, Lexi Dean, Lucy Afanasewicz and Lauren Hutson

As a freshman in her first varsity cross country campaign, Middletown High School South’s Reese Fahys has established herself as one of the top runners statewide. Fahys garnered elite status by winning the Group 3 Championship while leading her squad to the team title. It was the first time an Eagle harrier has captured an overall state crown since Cate Guiney achieved that feat in 1998.

Fahys clocked in at 18:49, well ahead of Colts Neck’s top gun Lilly Shapiro, who came across at 19:08. South’s Lucy Afanasewicz finished third, timed at 19:20.

The Eagles claimed the team title, topping a field of 20 schools with a low score of 60 points. Following on the leaderboard were Colts Neck High School (96), Mendham High School (96), Summit High School (157) and Ocean City High School (192). South placed all five scoring runners in the first 20 positions. Also scoring were Michelle Coyotl (17th), Lauren Hutson (19th) and Gwen Afanasewicz (20th).

One week later, Middletown competed for the overall state championship, known as the Meet of Champions (MOC). The Eagles took to the starting line ranked third statewide by NJ.Milesplit.com. That ranking was justified with a third place finish by South behind North Hunterdon Regional High School and Ridgewood High School.

Fahys led the squad at the MOC with a fifth place finish and was the only frosh runner to penetrate the top 30. Also scoring were Lucy Afanasewicz (18th), Michelle Coyotl (36th), Gwen Afanasewicz (37th) and Lauren Hutson (40th).

The next stop for Fahys was the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional Championship, held at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, New York on Nov 30. She finished fifth in a field of more than 180 runners to qualify for the Nationals.

The 16th annual Nike Cross Nationals, a televised event, was contested Dec. 7 in Portland, Oregon. Fahys finished in 64th place over a muddy, rain-soaked course.

“We never dreamed that our freshman, Reese, would respond to her new high school workouts and varsity role so quickly. Her simple love of running and team mentality helped her to develop into a powerful force that took the New Jersey running scene by delightful surprise,” exclaimed Head Coach Bill Clifton.

Reflecting on the overall team performances this season, Clifton stated, “This dream team never lacked motivation over the entire season. They relished the early season role of underdogs and never gave into the pressure when they were the late season favorites.”

The Shore Track Coaches Association (STCA) named Fahys the cross country Runner of the Year. The STCA also named Afanasewicz along with Fahys to both the All-Monmouth and All-Shore Conference teams. NJ.com named Fahys to Second Team All-Groups/All-State and First Team Group 3 All-State. Afanasewicz was selected to Third Team All-Groups/All-State and First Team Group 3 All-State by NJ.com. Coyotl was named to the Third Team Group 3 All-State.