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New Jersey Report - by Ed Grant
Nov 6 , 2004

Group Championship Preview

Last warmups for group championships. Morris Hills boys and Roxbury girls win Morris County championships. CBA beats Toms River North for 21st Shore Conference in 22 years, with Craig Forys the individual winner.

Before looking at what might happen this Saturday in the New Jersey group championships, it might be well to review the final weekend of local action which featured most of the teams who may wind up as winners at Holmdel County Park.

The two major items were the Morris County championships at the very difficult Nabisco Plant course in East Hanover and the Shore Conference meet at the flat and fast course at Ocean County Park.

The Morris girls' race had the state's No. 1 ranked girls' team, Roxbury, which put in another fine perfomance, winning handily over Morris Knolls, 36-70, and, in the process, setting a course team record with a 19:53 average. Ali Caruana scored her fourth major win of the season, finishing 50 yards ahead of Lauren Gregory of Knolls in 19:21. (The Nabisco course is at least as tough as Holmdel, maybe tougher, but comparisons are difficult because it is used for only this one meet each season.)

The boys' race had the state's fourth-ranked team in Morris Hills, which is favored to walk away with the Gr. III title on Saturday, as well as Korey Edwards of Parsippany Hills, who will provide the individual opposition in that race for Colts Neck sophomore Craig Forys. Both won handily, Hill topping Morristown, 42-78, and Edwards winning by 100 yards from Geoff McGrane of Randolph in 16:29.

Forys won the Shore Conference by 50 yards from Chris Horel of Christian Brothers in 15:21, just four seconds off the course record. And, in a highly awaited team battle between the state's top-rated teams, CBA won its 21st title in 22 starts, defeating Gr. IV favorite Toms River North, 38-51.

The girls' race also had two highly rated teams, No. 2 Msgr. Donovan topping No. 3 Jackson, 54-84. Leah Brogan continued her hot streak, finishing 50 yards ahead of 2003 Footlocker finalist Jen Clausen in 17:45, a course record. Donovan's "Kiddy Korps" were all in the top 10 with Molly Kempton leading the frosh group in 5th at 18:26.

In the Bergen County Meet of Champions at Darlington, Cheyenne Ogletree of Garfield, who will challenge 2003 AG champ Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City in Saturday's Gr. III race, finished 90 yards ahead of Meredith Jones of Ridgewood in 18:05 with Gr. I favorite Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park third in 18:31. Ridgewood won the team title for the 23rd time in 25 years, 29-60, over Paramus; the Maroon boys also won a threepeat, 35-83, over Don Bosco with James LaGreca of Demarest finishing first in 15:48.

In a Friday race, Brian Trembley of Seton Hall took a close Essex County race from Nicolai Naranjo of Montclair Kimberley Academy in 15:28. Both will take on tough assignments Saturday, Trembley again Horel in the Parochial A race, Naranjo against Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's in the Parochial B event.

The girls' event saw Caldwell sophomore Alexis Weiner take her third major title of the season over teammare Lauren Natoli while Columbia repeated as team champion, 70-90, over the Chiefs. Verona's Gr. I hopefuls were fourth with 102, having some fifth-girl problems after placing four girls between 10th and 15th.

In another Friday meet at Deer Path Park outside of Flemington, junior Brian Dennis of Hillsboro followed up his sectional victory with a 20-yard win over Dale Taylor of Noreth Hunterdon, also a sectional winner, in 16:17, leading Hillsboro to a 47-60 win over Phillipsburg in the Skyland Conference. The girls' race went to a conference newcomer, Kathy Henry of Ridge, who finished 75 yards ahead of Eleanora Spinazzi of Princeton in 19:20. Voorhees, the favorite for the Gr. III title, took team honors, 47-61, over Ridge.

Group Championship Preview

Now for a quick look at the 12 group races:


Gr. IV: Toms River North and Cherokee could repeat their 1-2 finish in the South Jersey meet, but Central Jersey champ Old Bridge will have something to say about that. The two wild-card spots in the all-group meet should come from this race with Ridgewood, Hillsboto and Westfield all in the picture. The individual race is wide open after Lenape's Anthony Kelhower's defeat of Chris Pisano of TRN in the sectionals. Dennis, Umar Saeed of Old Bridge and North Jersey 2 winner Jeff Perrella of Westfield must also be considered.

Gr. III: Morris Hills has this one wrapped up with Colts Neck and Ocean City the best bets for the other AG spots. Forys is undefeated this year and that should not change despite the challenge by sectional champs Edwards and LaGreca.

Gr. II: Cranford is a hot favorite in this one with Haddonfield and Cinnaminson probably taking the other two AG positions. The individual race could be a sophomore affair between Mike Burke of Haddonfield and Joe McKenney of Cranford with Kevin Brown of Cranford and Ben Massam of Chatham as possible challengers.

Gr. I: Bernards, which has more group titles than anyone else, 22 in Gr. I or II, will no doubt add another here with Kinnelon, Leonia and Keansburg scrapping for the other AG places. Chris Guerriero of Saddle Brook is an odds-on favorite for the gold medal.

Parochial A: CBA is second only to Bernards in group titles with 19 in the last 28 years and a current string of nine in a row. This will no doubt be the tenth with Seton Hall and Pope John occupying the other two AG slots. two weeks ago, Horel did not challenge Trembley in the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference race as CBA ran a team race; the Colts just might do that again Saturday, leaving Anthony LaMastro of Pope John to put on any pressure Trembley may get.

Parochial B: This will be a neighborhood team affair with Union County schools Roselle Catholic, Oratory and Union Catholic repeating their close NJCTC finish. It will be a very good individual race with Papazian, Naranjo and Anrew Catalano of Roselle Catholic battling it out.


Gr. IV: Roxbury and Jackson tangle for the first time this season with the fifth girls probably deciding the issue. Morris Knolls, Ridgewood, Toms River North and Cherokee will scrap it out for the three remaining AG places as, like the boys, the wild-card slots will certainly come from this one.
Individually, this is a great race, the field topped by Clausen and Caruana, but including several others who could break 19:00.

Gr. III: Voorhees has done a remarkable job rebuilding around a single veteran from the state's top-ranked (though not AG champion) 2003 team. Its recent sectional and conference races make the Vikings the favorite over Ocean City, Ridge and Colts Neck which have to battle for the other two AG positions. Sedberry is the natural favorite here, but she had a tough sectional race with Arianna McKinney of Highland and now must face Ogletree as well.

Gr. II: Chatham, Rumson and Shore appear the likely qualifiers here but in what order is anyone's guess. Chatham does have the tightest pack, but will yield points up front. Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield, who ran 14:30 at van Cortlandt Park this fall, is the favorite over Aimee Chegwidden of Wallkill Valley and Weiner.

Gr. I: The two North Jersey winners, Mountain Lakes and Verona are the class of this field with Palisades Park the likely third qualifier. Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes is the defending champ, but VanAlstine finished well ahead of her in the sectional race.

Parochial A: This looks like a cakewalk for Brogan and her Msgr. Donovan teammates with the struggle being for second between defending Red Bank Catholic and Pope John. Lara Heigis of Pope John, third in last year's AG race, will try to avenge her NJCTC loss to Brogan.

Parochial B: Defender Amanda Smith of Pingry saw her team lose to Mt. St. Mary's last year, but things should be different this time as Pingry already has two wins over its foe. Oak Knoll is the likely third-place finisher. Smith, who has apparently fully recovered from a summer injury, should have no trouble repeating.

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