An outstanding miler, Therese Delahunty ’85 was a pioneer in the girls’ cross country team. Arriving at Peddie as an eighth-grader in the fall of 1980, she immediately burst into the limelight and set new standards for girls’ distance running at Peddie. During her freshman year, she led the two-time Prep State Champion Falcon harriers to their third consecutive victory. Peddie tallied 47 points to dominate runner-up Montclair Kimberly (99 points). The pace-setter of the Peddie pack, Delahunty played a key role in leading the Falcons to a banner season with only one loss to Steinert, a perennial Mercer County powerhouse ranked fourth in New Jersey.
According to The Peddie News, Delahunty never finished worse than third in nearly 35 dual meet competitions spanning her five-year career. Hard work and dedication helped her earn a spot at the 1981 National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Texas, where she finished 19th out of 80 runners in a crowded and talented field. At that point, Delahunty became much more than just a competitor out on the trails. She developed a fierce passion for running and became a wonderful role model.
Buoyed by Delahunty’s leadership and three consecutive Prep titles, the 1981 Falcon harriers had plenty of reason for continued optimism. They did not disappoint as they enjoyed an 8-1 season and ran their way to a fourth Prep state title. The two-time George Weed Cross Country Honor Award winner added other notable finishes to her resume. Delahunty placed second at the 1982 Prep meet, and in 1983, she crossed the line at the Mercer County Championships in fourth place out of 77 runners.
Although she is mostly known for her accolades on tough terrain, Delahunty produced some heroic results on the oval. In the winter of ’81, Delahunty moved indoors and set a mile record of 5:21 that would stand for almost three decades. Delahunty set two more records as a member of the one-mile and two-mile relay teams. The one-mile team with Haggerty, Cynthia Ansari ’83, Jacqueline Spencer ’83 and Delahunty finished the distance in 4:27.34. At the same time, the two-mile foursome of Gina Hepp ’84, Liddy Allee ’82, Cinco and Delahunty crossed the line in 11:09.43. As a distance specialist, Delahunty was inducted into the Peddie Hall of Fame in 2002 as a member of the 1982 Outdoor Track and Field Team.
Delahunty’s reputation for outrunning her cross country opponents by huge margins is still legend. Her personal best on Peddie’s 2.8 mile home course was 17:20 against Steinert when she overpowered her Spartan opponent with a late charge. As teammate, future track head coach and Peddie Sports Hall of Famer Mark Gartner ’84 P’08 ’10 noted, “She didn’t win because everyone was lousy, she was that good.” Her mental approach blended well with her physical talent and often gave her a competitive edge to long-distance racing.
As cross country captain her junior campaign, she was a leader on campus too as a prefect and a member of the Faculty-Student Senate. Therese Delahunty ’85 now holds a well-earned individual place in the Peddie Sports Hall of Fame.