PARSIPPANY _ Ally Schlosser's 2013 cross country season was short - way too short - for someone who likes to go the distance.
Parsippany's Schlosser ran in three races last fall before being sidelined with a stress fracture in her femur.
Needless to say, Schlosser, now a junior, was restless while waiting for the injury to heal.
This school year, Schlosser is back and anxious to reach a destination - Holmdel - the site of the group championship races.
"I've never run there so I want to go," said Schlosser, who won the NJAC Small Schools Division Varsity Race 1 on Tuesday, Sept. 16, completing the course at Central Park at Greystone in 20:05.50. "I hear it's a great place."
Mary Lynch of Villa Walsh (20:46.00) was second to Schlosser and Mountain Lakes' Kyra Velock (20:55.60) was third.
Whippany Park's Chiara Mennonna prevailed in the second girls race on Tuesday, crossing the finish line in 21:19.50.
Schlosser, whose other goal is to break 19 minutes, beamed about her effort. She feels she's off to a good start and ready to contend.
"I went back and forth about if I was in it to win it or for a time," she said. "I decided to win. I just wanted to stick with whoever was close to me. I'd rather compete with myself than with others."
As it turned out, no one was with Schlosser. She broke away from the pack at the first hill - about 600 meters - and traversed the loops solo.
"It was me against myself," she said. "I like that better."
Schlosser was eighth in 19:13.27 at the Roxbury Invitational three days earlier. She was pleased with that performance, too, because "the field was tough" and she "was near the front of the pack."
Last spring, Schlosser experienced her finest moment as a runner, coming in second in the 1,600 at the North Jersey Section 2, Group II meet, right behind Summit's Gillian McIlroy, in 5:11.06.
"That made me realize I had a shot at breaking 5 minutes," she said. "If I can do that, I may be able to run Division I."
To prepare for this cross country season, Schlosser upped her mileage a bit. She ran with her sophomore brother, Eric, and Ronald Tudorache and Steven Patracuolla, all members of the Red Hawks boys squad. Schlosser credits them with pushing her.
Schlosser refrained from doing triathlons over the summer to ensure that she didn't get hurt.
For the race at Central Park, Schlosser wore a cheetah print ribbon in her red hair. It was lucky so she thinks she'll wear it again.
"I think I'll keep it awhile. I don't know," she said. "I may switch it up at some point."
Competing at Central Park remains a thrill for Mennonna, a sophomore. Mennonna said the course is her favorite. She ran on it for the first time in third grade when she was a student at St. Virgil's.
"I have so many memories from when I was little," Mennonna said. "I had so many flashbacks out there. It was so exciting."
Mennonna and her St. Virgil's teammates had an abundance of fun at Central Park. She recalled a Halloween race.
"There were ghosts on the course to guide us," she said.
On Tuesday, Mennonna, who swims for Lakeland Hills YMCA, specializing in breaststroke, had a head cold but refused to let it bother her.
"I tuned it out. Forgot about it," she said. "I made up my mind that I was totally healthy."
The 21:19.50 was close to her PR so that made Mennonna happy. Her goal this fall is to eclipse 20 minutes.
Wednesday's NJAC Large School Races were won by Olivia Viparina of Roxbury (19:06.60) and Sierra Castaneda of West Morris (19:12.10).
Latest from Sandy Seegers