WILLINGBORO-- As Austin Gabay crossed the finish line in first at the Burlington County Open, he checked off another accomplishment in his impressive junior season.
Gabay edged out Cherokee’s Ethan Wechsler in a head-to-head race in which he used the slipstream behind Wechsler to stay fresh for the final stretch.
Gabay recorded the fourth-fastest time at Willingboro’s Mill Creek Park, and he became the first Cinnaminson junior to capture the Burlington County Open crown.
“I was going to slipstream the whole way because I knew it was going to be a little windy today,” Gabay said. “I didn’t want to waste my energy on fighting that wind.”
“(The kick is) based on how I felt,” Gabay said. “I knew coming down the hill, I was would have to start up soon. Once we got going around the lake, me and him started pushing and I gave my best effort coming around the wall because I knew it was about 200 meters or less so that’s when I really started going.”
The successful race was another step forward for Gabay, who is sizing up his competition ahead of the sectional and state meets.
This season the Pirates were moved up to Central Jersey Group 2 for the sectional meet, which means Gabay is going up against Point Pleasant Beach’s Devin Hart, who recently committed to Stanford, three weeks in a row.
Recent races at Holmdel have boosted the confidence of Gabay, who is in position to be one of South Jersey’s most successful individuals during the final few weeks of the cross-country season.
“With Devin Hart, it just pushed me even more because I know I want to be up with him,” Gabay said. “Meet of Champs is coming up soon so I’ll see how fast I can go there.”
A week before conquering the Burlington County Open, Gabay shattered his personal best at Holmdel Park, the site of the state meet and Meet of Champions.
Gabay captured the Varsity E race at the Shore Coaches Invitational in 16:01, which was over a minute better than his previous best time at Holmdel set at the state meet a year ago.
“It really boosted my confidence, especially going that fast at Holmdel,” Gabay said.
Gabay has also been a part of the team's success this season, as the Pirates once again secured the Burlington County Scholastic League Patriot Division title.
The team title and the accolades Gabay’s already won are just the start of what’s to come in the coming weeks for the Cinnaminson junior.