NJ represented in first Nike Team Nationals;
Bobby Papazian makes Foot Locker nationals,
Brittany Sedberry on the bubble
Something new appears on the cross-country scene tis weekend with the first national team championships on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.
New Jersey will be represented by its two state all-group champions, Christian Brothers on the boys' side and Roxbury on the girls. Neither is expected to win, but it will be interesting to see how the Garden State teams shape up against the best from the rest of the country.
After the results of the Footlocker Trials at Van Cortlandt Park last Saturday, there seems little doubt about who will take the girls' title. Saratoga Springs qualified no less than four girls for the national finals on Dec. 11 in San Diego; its fifth girl finished 28th. The four qualifiers averaged just over 18:00; the fifth ran 19:09.
The boys' team race in Eugene is a lot more competitive. Fayetteville-Manlius, N.Y., which had scored a perfect 15 points in its match with CBA at the Manhattan Invitational, and York of Elmhurst, Ill., rate as co-favorites; they are currently rated 1-2 in the nation.
CBA and Roxbury both skipped the action at Van Cortlandt last Saturday where the two all-group champions, Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's and Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City, led the New Jersey contingent.
Papazian automatically qualified for the San Diego race as he finished third to Chris Barnicle of Newton, Mass., running 15:37. Craig Forys of Colts Neck scratched from the race to rest a sore calf muscle.
Sedberry will also likely be in San Diego, as she was last year, but will have to wait for the results of the Eugene race to be certain. Brittany finished 10th, just ahead of Jen Clausen of Jackson, in 18:33. The first eight, all from New York, were automatic qualifiers; the next two will also make it if the first two Northeast finishers in Eugene were among those top eight. They will almosty certainly be Nicole Blood and Hannah Davidson of Saratoga, 1-3 in the Van Cortlandt race.
With the exception of the Roxbury girls, almost all of New Jersey's top girl runners were at the Footlocker Trials and, as a team, they finished an easy second to the powerful New York squad. Clausen ran 18:35, Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean was 13th in 18:47, Leah Brogan of Msgr. Donovan 20th in 18:56 and Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park 22nd in 19:02, followed closely by Lara Heigis of Pope John in 24th at 19:04, Arianna McKinney of Highland, 27th in 19:08, and Amanda Marino of Jackson, 29th in 19:10. The only other notable absentee was Group 2 champ Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield.
The boys' entry was nowhere near as imposing. Korey Edwards of Parsippany Hills snapped back from his off-day at the all-group meet to finish 12th in 16:00, but the next finisher was Umar Saaed of Old Bridge in 43rd at 16:26, followed by Ben Massam of Chatham in 47th at 16:27 and Tom Yersak of Cherokee in 61st at 16:36. Brian Dennis of Hillsboro, third in the all-group race, followed Yersak in 65th at 16;38. The missing also included Chris Horel of CBA, Jeff Perrella of Westfield and Chris Pisano of Toms River North.
There was one New Jersey winner in the class races, Megan O'Leary of Cherokee winning the senior girls' event in 19:54. Alexis Weiner of Caldwell finished second in the sophomore race in 19:48.
Another runner who did not take part in Saturday's race, but will almost certainly be there next fall, is reportedly ready to return to atcion soon after a long layoff with a leg injury similar to that which kept her former (and future) teammate Forys out of the meet. Briana Jackucewicz, who set a national "high school" record for the 5K last winter, apparently is ready to resume training after a layoff of almost nine months.