"Having all of the really good runners here helped," said Barry, whose time of 18:11.98 was the best of the day. "I knew there'd be great competition. Everyone is so good. It's exhilirating running with the best."
High Point's Sarah Disanza was four seconds behind Barry, a sophomore. Sam Jones was third in 18:29.57, leading Randolph to the large schools team title with 60 points. Claudia DiSomma of Sparta came in fourth in 18:47.02.
In the small schools division, Mountain Lakes Colette Richter took first place with a personal best time of 18:20.37. The Lakers also were first as a team, scoring 66 points. Chatham's Tara Hanley (18:24.03) and Hanover Park's Caroline Wolfe (19:08.06) were second and third, repectively.
Barry's effort in a tough field stood out. The lead group was neck and neck. Jones led at times. Barry pulled away at the bridge, which is about 2.5 miles into the course.
"We were all really close," Barry said. "I had to run hard because anyone could've won it. I put a lot of preparation into this. I feel really good. I'm finally getting back to where I was last year time-wise."
The large school race provided excitement as the top four runners took turns in the lead. Barry pulled it out at the bridge which is 2.5 miles into the course.
The weather, Barry said, was "perfect to run in."
As for celebrating, Barry had no time. She was headed home to dive into her homework. She had work to do for history class and a project for English that involved making a game.
What's next for Barry?
"A time in the 17s, I hope," she said.
Disanza (18:15.36) was pleased with her effort and glad to be in the company of many of the conference's elite.
"We were all pretty close, trading positions until the hill," Disanza said. "When we got to the last hill, Claudia began dropping back. I passed Sam Jones near the end. We all pushed each other and had great splits. We were within a foot of each other most of the time.
For Jones, a senior, it was all about the team. Randolph placed four runners - Jones, Carole Harsch (fifth), Liz Wellman (12th) and Margaret Thomson (13th) - in the top 13. Second to the Rams was Mendham, which had three runners in the top eight.
"I'm OK with being third," Jones said. "It was good for the team to win. I wasn't trying to do anything big individually. I just wanted to place high enough. I let everyone else set the pace. I felt comfortable."
Harsch, a freshman, clocked a 18:55.49. She was thrilled to help Randolph take home top team honors.
"We wanted to show we could do well as a team," Harsch said. "Our team has good chemistry. Sam's an amazing captain and great role model. Our coaches told us the leaders would go out fast. We had to run our own races and not go out with them.
Rams coach Len Pietrewicz lauded his runners, especially the underclassmen, Harsch and Thomson, for stellar efforts.
"It was a good performance," Pietrewicz said. "We had everyone together. We're relatively healthy. Sam did a great job and Carole was fabulous. She's running intelligently. I'm not surprised by Carole. She's been in the top 10 in Lakeland races since she was 7 or 8 years old. Tompson was really good, too."
Richter, a junior, declared herself "speechless" after prevailing in the small schools division. The competition was fierce in that race as well.
"I'm still processing what happened," said Richter, who dropped 50 seconds off her previous best time. "I can't believe how well I did today. I'm glad to break 19 minutes. I'm glad for the team. I wanted to do all I could to help them."
For the first lap, it was Richter, Hanley and Wolfe. On the second lap, Richter and Hanley battled it out. Richter got up the last little hill and kicked it, taking over the front spot with 400 meters left.
"We were really pushing each other the second lap and that's what got me this time," said Richter. "I stayed strong and fought."
The time did not come without a bit of pain.
"It hurts but it's worth it," Richter said.
Wolfe, a senior, felt as if she was lagging yet beat her best time by 46 seconds.
"I didn't think I ran that well," Wolfe said. "It must have been the good weather and the course wasn't muddy like it usually is. When I saw the first two girls pull away, I figured it wasn't going to be good but I guess I can't judge by that."
The Lakers had three runners among the first 12. Jenny Picot was fourth in 19:41.18 and Nicole Allison was 12th in 20:42.36. Second-place Kinnelon scored 79 team points and third-place Chatham had 96.
The small schools race was memorable for Dover junior Melissa DeHorta, who was another runner with a personal best. DeHorta traversed the course in 19:48.94.
"I'm proud of myself. Very happy," DeHorta said. "At the end, I tried to stay with the girl from Mountain Lakes (Picot) but she got me at the end."