Barnegat Leader

Promising Runners Return to Barnegat Cross-Country Squads

Sep 21, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy GET AHEAD: Gareth Aguilar (at center) is expected among the front-runners for the Barnegat High School boys cross-country team this fall.

Barnegat boys cross-country coach Keith Stokes doesn’t expect his Bengals to sit around during the summer and forget about running. In fact, he bases the starting crew largely on who has been working hard and comes into the fall season prepared to compete.

“Our success all depends on what our guys accomplished over the summer,” he said. “I will fill my starting lineup with the fastest and most dedicated runners.”

Well, it was clear on Sept. 8, when the Bengals traveled to Cherokee High School for the Cherokee Challenge, which runners were ready to get moving this fall. And their opening win over Manchester provided an even better insight as to who among Barnegat’s squad may be taking big strides.

For starters, there’s senior Gareth Aguilar. He’s the leader on this crew, and so far he’s off to a good start. At the Challenge, he went up against a mammoth and powerful field of seniors and placed 112th overall, followed by a 53rd-place finish in the Battle at Ocean County Park on Sept. 14, when he again raced alongside some of the best runners from the best programs in the state. During the opening dual-meet victory against Shore Conference Class B South foe Manchester on Sept. 11, Aguilar led the way with an 18:51.

Beyond Aguilar, the Bengals have plenty of promising guys, starting with junior Logan Germano and sophomore Peter Dizon. Germano crossed the line second in the opening dual, recording a time of 19:06, while Dizon scored third-place points with a 19:38. In his class at the Cherokee Challenge, Germano was 133rd, then placed 77th in the Battle at Ocean County Park, while Dizon swiped the 25th position among sophomores at Ocean County Park.

After their top three, the Bengals are a wide-open bunch, with a lot of younger runners expected to vie for the fourth and fifth positions on a routine basis. Among them are juniors Gino DiGiovanni, who placed fifth in 20:04 during the opening win over the Hawks, Jacob Schleicher, Matt Notaro, Tyler Grant and Joshua Hutton, as well as freshmen Peter Craig and Paul D’Aloia, who each placed in the low-40s of the freshmen race at the Cherokee Challenge. D’Aloia placed fourth in the Bengals’ first win as well, clocking a time of 20:01.

The rest of the team includes seniors Kevin Becker and Joseph Coleman, junior Peter Toth, sophomore Aiden DeRosa and freshmen Emanuel Valles, Matthew Zeh and Joseph Fiorentino.

Unfortunately, Bob Klaslo’s girls have an extremely small group of runners and will have their share of struggles this fall. However, there’s a really bright spot in the Bengals’ lineup of three. Freshman Lillian Sarno, who already has started turning some heads by leading the pack with a solid time of 21:33 in an opening loss to Manchester. Sarno also opened the season with a 13th-place finish among freshmen at the Cherokee Challenge, followed by an eighth-place finish in 12:33.88 in the Battle of Ocean County Park.

Joining Sarno this season are sophomore Jadelyn Rodriguez and classmate Bianca Savoy, a pair of runners Klaslo says “have the potential for individual success in cross-country.”

“While Rodriguez is an unknown for us right now, both Sarno and Savoy were county-level competitors in the 1,600-meter run in eighth grade and are very competitive athletes who set high expectations for themselves. They could be good for a long time to come.”

— David Biggy

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