Looking ahead

: Venables, Szulewski among next year's top runners

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 girls' runner in the state in 2010. Venables finished second at the Meet of Champions this season in 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, other runners might be challenging Venables.

Cherokee sophomore Megan Lacy was seventh at the Meet of Champions in 18:48, while Bishop Eustace sophomore Holly Bischof ran a 19:01 and Lenape freshman Natalia Ocasio a 19:17.

Cinnaminson freshman Meghan Malloy was sixth at the Group 2 state meet and faster at 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 a 19:39 at the Meet of Champions.

On the boys' side, Williamstown junior Paul Szulewski was fifth at the Group 4 state meet, and 10th at the Meet of Champions in 15:57.

"He really had a great year," Williamstown coach Ed Douglas said. "He's got a chance to be even better next year."

Haddonfield juniors Matt Nussbaum and Ben Potts finished 2-3 at the Group 2 state meet and in the top 30 at the Meet of Champions. Shawnee sophomore Connor Herr also ran well at the Meet of Champions, finishing in 16:28.