Some of South Jersey's best cross-country runners already are racing toward next year's finish line.
Highland junior Megan Venables has the potential to be the top girl runner in the state in 2010. Venables finished second in the Meet of Champions this season in a time of 18 minutes, 1 second.
"Megan had a great year," said Kingsway senior Chelsea Ley, who won the Meet of Champions. "She pushed me the whole season and kept getting stronger and stronger. It was good competition for both of us."
Next season, some other runners might be challenging Venables.
Cherokee sophomore Megan Lacy was seventh in the Meet of Champions this season in 18:48, while Bishop Eustace sophomore Holly Bischop ran 19:01 and Lenape freshman Natalia Ocasio ran 19:17.
Cinnaminson freshman Meghan Malloy was sixth in the Group 2 state meet and ran a faster time in the Meet of Champions, finishing in 19:49. Delsea junior Felicia O'Donnell led the Crusaders to the Group 3 state title and came back to run 19:39 in the Meet of Champions.
On the boys' side, Williamstown junior Paul Szulewski was fifth in the Group 4 state meet and 10th in the Meet of Champions in 15:57.
"He really had a great year," Williamstown coach Ed Douglas said of Szulewski. "He's got a chance to be even better next year."
Haddonfield juniors Matt Nussbaum and Ben Potts went 2-3 at the Group 2 state meet and both finished in the top 30 in the Meet of Champions. Shawnee sophomore Connor Herr also ran well at the Meet of Champions, finishing in 16:28.