Lillie Widmer’s performance Saturday was eye-opening on a few levels.
For starters, the senior on the Delsea High girls’ cross-country team took home her first scholastic victory by winning the Herb Lorenz Gold race Saturday at the South Jersey Shootout at the Delaware River Equestrian, Agriculture and Marine (DREAM) Park in Logan Township.
Secondly, she defeated a strong field that included four athletes who were named to the South Jersey Times All-Area all-star team last season.
Thirdly, Widmer dropped nearly two minutes off her personal-record time.
“It did surprise me,” Widmer said of her winning effort of 18:34.1. “I wasn’t expecting to win, but I knew that I could be out there with the top three. So I just followed (Abigail Waddington) from Clearview and Grace (Wassell) from Highland. I knew that I had to stick with them the whole time. At the end, I gave it the rest that I had.”
Waddington, an all-star last season, was second in 18:49.6. Clearview senior Abigail Kotran, who also received an all-star nod, took third in 19:08.2. Wassell, the two-time Runner of the Year, notched fourth place in 19:19.3. Clearview junior Maggie Wisniewski, also an all-star, rounded out the top five (19:54.2).
“I put in a lot of consistent training over the summer,” Widmer, whose previous PR was 20:32.87, said. “It was a lot of hard work. I had to put a lot of time in after practice hours just to get better, but it was worth it. The key was to stay mentally in the race. It’s tough physically, but it’s always harder mentally at the end of the race.”
Widmer was fifth in this race last season in 21:14.54.
“I’m shocked,” she said. “I am super excited. It’s senior year for me, so it’s a great start to the season. My first goal coming into this year was to get under 20 minutes. I have already surpassed that. So it can only get better from here.”
The N.J. High School Sports newsletter now appearing in mailboxes 5 days a week. Sign up now and be among the first to get all the boys and girls sports you care about, straight to your inbox each weekday. To add your name, click here.