| For the most part, action in the 32 New Jersey sectional races over the weekend followed form, but there were a couple of surprises in the individual races.
The biggest upset, perhaps, was the close victory scored by Anthony Kelhower of Lenape over Chris Pisano of Toms River North in the South Jersey Gr. IV race at Delsea. Pisano had finished 8th in the championship race at the Great American meet and had won impressively at the Ocean County meet a week before his sectional setback.
Kelhower is a virtual unknown outside of his backyard, but has been cleaning up in South Jersey this fall. His winning time on Saturday, 15:44, was the fastest of the 16 boys' sectional races, but Delsea is acknowledged to be the easiest of the four courses involved.
That race also provided the major team confrontation of the weekend among the boys with Toms River North defeating Cherokee, 46-55. The Chiefs were missing their No. 3 man, Sean McLaughlin, who turned an ankle two days before the meet. He may be back when the teams meet again in the group meet Nov. 13 at Holmdel County Park.
The other challengers for that title, Old Bridge and Ridgewood, won their sectional meets with plenty to spare. Old Bridge defeated Hillsborough, 56-89, in the Central Jersey meet at Holmdel, while Ridgewood topped Morristown, 35-82, in the North Jersey Section 1 meet at Garret Mountain, West Paterson, on Friday.
There was a slight upset in the individual race at Holmdel when Hillsborough's Brian Dennis edged Umar Saeed of Old Bridge, both clocked at 16:22 on the most difficult of the sectional course. Dennis is a young junior, not yet 16, who was the state's top freshmen two years ago.
Westfield won the other Gr. IV sectional at Warinanco Park, Elizbeth, its 15th title all told, but the first since 1996. The Blue Devils also claimed individual honors with soccer convert Jeff Perrella, also a junior, wunning away from 4:16 miler Josh Davis of Phillipsburg in 16:34.
Top action in Gr. III was on Monday at Garret Mountain when the state's No. 2 team, Morris Hills, won easily deapite having an off day. Korey Edwards of Parsippany Hills won a close individual race from James LaGreca of Demarest in 16:12 with juniors Brandon Rodkiewicz and Jayson Decker of Morris Hills going 3-4.
Sophomore Craig Forys of Colts Neck, co-favorite for the individual all-group title, led his team to the Central Jersey III title at Holmdel, running away from Eric Schaffer of Wall in 16:32. Looking forward to this Saturday's meeting with Pisano and Chris Horel of CBA at the Shore Conference meet, Forys ran under wraps on a course where he hopes to break 16:00 later this season.
In a geographical twist, Holmdel High School travelled to Warinanco Park to win the North Jersey 2 Gr. III race from Ridge, 48-77, while Ocean City took the South Jersey race from Highland, 37-69. Dale Taylor of North Hunterdon and James Kavaliauskas of Highland were the respective individual winners.
Cranford outclassed the other Gr. II winners with its 23-70 win over Spotswood at Holmdel, led by a 1-2 finish from Kevin Brown and Joe McKenney who virtually tied in 16:33 and 16:34. There will, however, be a good individual group race with the other sectional winners, Mike Crum of Hopatcong at Garret Mountain, Ben Massam of Chatham at Warinanco and sophomore Mike Burke of Haddonfield at Delsea all running comparable times. All three also led team wins.
Chris Guerriero of Saddle Brook showed why he is favored for Group I honors when he won the Garret Mountain race by 60 yards from Mike Soroko of Kinnelon in 16:26. Kevin Hart of Pt. Pleasant Beach did run a trifle faster at Delsea, but there is about 20 seconds difference in the two courses. The other winner were Rob Kein of Becton at Warinanco and Andrew Carusotto of Keansburg at Holmdel, both over 17:00.
Bernards, which has won more sectional titles than anyone else, made it No. 27 with an easy defense of its North Jersey 2 title and will no doubt pick up its 22nd group crown in two weeks, as its team performance was much superior to the other winners: Kinnelon at Garret Mountain, Keansburg at Holmdel and Maple Shade at Delsea.
Roxbury, the state's No. 1 girls' team, had its second impressive outing in four days as it won the North Jersey 1 Gr. IV title at Garret Mountain, 32-64, over Morris Knolls with a team average of 19:17. Ali Caruana won the race by 25 yards from Lauren Gregory of Morris Knolls in 18:47 with Jenn Ennis third in 18:59 and Ashley Cromartie and Kristen Stevens 6-7 at 19:11 and 19:16.
Jackson, the No. 3 team, won at Holmdel, 63-91, over West Windsow-Plainsboro South with a 1-2 finish from junior Jen Clausen and sophomore Amanda Marino in 18:54 and 18:58. But the Jaguars back corps could not match Roxbury as the team averaged 19:55. The other team winners, Toms River North at Delsea and Westfield at Warinanco could not match the top two.
Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean, the state 1600-meter champion last spring. scored her first major cross-country win at Delsea as she edged Katie Van Horn of Triton, both clocked in 18:32. Jahlisa Smith won at Warinanco, the first Plainfield champion in 23 years.
The defending all-group champion, Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City won the Delsea race for the third time in 18:04 from Arianna McKinney of Highland and also led her team to its second title in a row. The other winners were also impressive, Cheyenne Ogletree of Garfield at Garret Mountain in 18:52, Kathy Henry of Ridge at Warinanco in 19:26 and Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck at Holmdel in 19:28.
This should be a close group team race with defending Voorhees having the top sectional performance in defending its North Jersey 2 title at Warinanco., But Ocean City was not far behind the Vikings. Ridge will battle for the third spot with Colts Neck, the Central Jersey winner. Mount Olive, which won a close five-way race at Garret, seems a bit outclassed.
Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield continued her impressive running with a 300-yard win over teammate Colleen Brogan at Delsea in 18:00. But this 1-2 finish failed to prevent a 75-80 win by Haddon Twp. This was a Haddon-dominated race with Haddon Heights a close third and the three teams claiming 13 of the top 22 finishers. (This "Haddonfield," by the way, is not the one in the Halloween movies.)
Wright will probably run away with the group race, but the battle for second should be interesting with Brogran an d the other three winners, all sophomores, Aimee Chegwidden of Wallkill Valley at Garret Mountain, Alexis Weiner of Caldwell at Warinanco and Ashleyt Higginson of Colts Neck all in the picture.
Chatham had much the best of the team efforts in its Warinanco win with Rumson, a surprise winner over Shore at Holmdel, next in line. Haddon Twp and Kittatinny, the Garret winner, will have to improve a lot to make the top three for the all-group race.
Amy Van Alstine of Midland Park, whose sister Lindsey won the all-group title in 2001, had the top performance in the Gr. I sectionals with a 200-yard win over defender Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes at Garret Mountain in 18:54. None of the other winner were close to these two: Kathy deLeon of Palisades Park at Warinanco, Chelsea Fisher of Metuchen at Holmdel or Lindsey Ritchings, who gave Pt. Pleasant Beach a sweep of the individual titles at Delsea.
Mountain Lakes and Verona, winners of the two North Jersey races at Garret Mountain and Warinanco, should have a close battle for the group title with North Warren, second in North Jersey 1, and Palisades Park, second in North Jersey 2, probably scrapping for the third qualifying spot. New Providence and Gloucester, the Central and South Jersey winners, will be satisfied to make the top 10.
The New Jersey Catholic Track Conference meet , which followed the sectionals at Warinanco Park, provided some insights into the four Parochial group races. Christian Brothers Academy, running strictly a team race, dominated the boys' event, winning for the 23rd consecutive year, 39-66, over Seton Hall with Pope John third at 102. They no doubt will take the three all-group slots on Nov. 6.
The individual race saw Brian Trembley of Seton hall repeat his father's (and coach's) 1978 win, finishing 125 yards ahead of Andrew Catalano of Roselle Catholic in 16:13. Kevin Rogers, Greg Leach and Chris Horel of CBA finished 5-6-7 in 16:47. Oratory and Roselle Catholic, top contenders for the Parochial B title, finished 7-8, 237-240.
Msgr. Donovan took the girls' title, 25-46, from Pope John with a team average of 19:38, as Leah Brogan defeated Lara Heigis of Pope John by 50 yards in 18:45. The largely freshman MonDon team thus confirmed its No. 2 ranking and shapes up as a real threat to Roxbury in the all-group meet.
The top parochial B runners, Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's and Amanda Smith of Pingry, were idle, as were the main contenders for the girls' Parochial B title, defending Mt. St. Mary's and Pingry.