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Ridge Runner Shines at Nike National

Tyler Gibbons, County and Skylands Conference champion, travels to Nike Cross National to represent Ridge High School.

cross-country runner Tyler Gibbons, who this October took the and championships, was the school's first participant in the Nike Cross National cross-country competition, which he attended with his two coaches from Ridge.

Gibbons qualified for the national event, held the first weekend in December in Portland, Ore., after his finish in Nike's Northeast regional competition on Nov. 26. Tyler said he then finished at 16:11 as one of the top five individual runners, and two top cross-country teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine, winning a silver medal.

At the national meet, Gibbons said he finished 71st in a field of about 200 crosss-country runners with a time of 16:13. "It was a very different course than what we're used to," he said. "It was pretty muddy."

Other runners to qualify from Somerset County included Dana Giordano from Bernards High School in Bernardsville and Marisa Ruskan from Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

"Tyler is our first [runner] to go that far," said Tim Mooney, cross-country head coach at Ridge. He said the Nike meet is eight years old, and originally involved teams, but later began including individual runners.

"It was a great trip and overall fantastic experience for him," Mooney said of Gibbons, a senior at Ridge. "The meet creates a lot of hype, which is fun, but at the same time can be a struggle for the runners. Tyler did a great job of keeping perspective and he ran a strong race."

Gibbons struggled a little in the beginning with the pack of runners and course but ultimately ran another tough race to top off his season, Mooney said. "Seeing him run with the best in the country was a great honor and he really showed that he belonged there. His season was the result of a lot of hard work and dedication and I couldn't have been more proud of his efforts and results."

Michael Hoppe, assistant principal at Bernards High, said Giordano finished 12th from the Northeast and tops among New Jersey runners in the Nike event. He said she was named to the All American team.

Gibbons was in the Basking Ridge Patch, after he captured first-place finishes in both the Somerset County championship and then, a week later, at the Skylands Conference Championship.

In November, Gibbons also placed fourth overall at the Meet of Champions in Elizabeth.

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