Against the odds, girls’ cross country advances in states

Seniors Yuzki Oey and Jessy Nguyen following their triumph at Sectionals
—Provided by Yuzki Oey

Athletics are the only endeavors where in a split second, the impossible can become possible.  A dull period can become a moment of brilliance.  For the North girls’ cross country team—a minnow among the sharks of Group 4—what began as a pipedream blossomed into one of the greatest feats in Knights racing history.

“Who would have expected nine girls to make it out of Group Four?” coach Monica Biro said after her team clinched a Group meet birth at Sectionals.  The nine-student squad advanced by a single point, when freshman Julia Grande held off an opponent near the finish line to earn the vital point her team needed:  “I saw her coming out of the corner of my eye, and all that was on my mind was that this could be my last cross country race this season,” Grande said.

For the girls to move on to Groups, every runner had to put forth her best performance:  “I believed that we had a chance.  It had to take all seven girls running their best races,” Biro said.  While seniors Yuzki Oey, a captain, and Jessy Nguyen led near the front of the race, Grande and sophomore Anu Kandasamy held the key to North advancing.  “I knew fourth place through eighth place was going to be so close,” Biro said.  Overall, the Knights recorded five personal bests, orchestrating the complete effort needed to move on.

At the Group 4 State Championship meet, Oey finished in 13th place, and qualified for the NJSAA Meet of Champions.  “If you asked my July self if I was going to qualify for the Meet of Champions, I would probably have laughed and said no,” Oey said.  But the captain recorded a personal best time at Groups, motivated by the possibility of the race being her last.

“Even though I won’t be with my teammates in the race at Meet of Champions, I’ll still be racing for them.  After all the support and help they’ve given me, I want to give something back to them,” she said.

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