PARSIPPANY _ Pope John's Anna Campbell was striving to take her time below 19 minutes.
Running without a plan, just "going for it," Campbell, a senior, completed the course at Central Park in a personal record 18:55.61, helping the Lions nip Mount Olive, 27-28, on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Her time was the best among all large school female runners at the batch meet. Montville's Anna George also excelled in the second NJAC varsity girls race, ending in 19:11.31.
"I'm very happy," Campbell said. "My goal this year was to break 19:00 and I did it. This is the first step to getting to the mid 18s. I figured we'd have a close race with Mount Olive. It'd be tough. The spirit of the team got me going."
Campbell noted, too, that the top seven runners for the Lions had PRs on an afternoon that was cool and overcast.
"I really, really like my team," she said. "I like cross country so much. My team is what makes everything worth it. We were all super pumped today. There definitely was a team vibe."
Campbell is looking to improve upon her stellar 2015 cross country season when she recorded her previous PR of 19:23.22 at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships. She was in the top nine at the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Meet and the NJAC and group championships.
"We're working on team goals and we want to qualify for the Meet of Champions," Campbell said. "I'll do whatever I can to help us get there."
Campbell said she ran at a workout pace and didn't push too hard. Her average mile on Wednesday was 6:05.6.
"It's finally not so humid," she said. "I didn't run to my full potential."
With the NJAC Championships and H/W/C looming, Campbell is exactly where she wants to be.
"I'm excited about being with faster runners and trying to do my best," Campbell said. "The first thing I worry about is the team. We have such a good time."
George, whose best career showing was an 18:41.70 at the Greystone Invitational, has been focusing on her second mile.
"I've been a little slower," George said. "I'd like to keep it even. I'm happy with how I ran today."
Among her objectives in the coming weeks is to go below 18:40 at Central Park and Garret Mountain.
"I want to come in at higher spots," George said. "I ran a hard race today. I got a 19:22 last week here so I am getting better."
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