New Jersey Weekly Roundup
Reviewing Week of Oct. 22; Previewing Week of Oct. 29
By Ed Grant

The return to action of two-time all-group champion Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City, as well as Ashley Cromartie of Roxbury, has set the stage for perhaps the most exciting girls’ all-group meet in New Jersey history.

One would have to go back 23 years to the 1982 meet which saw Michelle Rowen of Washington Twp set an individual course record of 17:40 and Bernards a team average mark of 19:16 at Holmdel County Park to match what could happen there on Nov. 19 when the last round of the 2005 championships gets under way.

That 1982 race saw the first ten girls break 19:00 and the first 41 go under 20:00. Rowen was followed over the line at a distance of 150 yards by Janet Smith of North Edison who the next year would break Rowen’s mark with the still-standing record of 17:.35.5. No team has come even close to the Bernards record, however, not even the North Hunterdon teams of the mid-80s which were led by Jodie Bilotta and Anne Marie Letko.

Last week’s action indicated what might be expected in this year’s all-group meet. Sedberry was just one of more than half a dozen girls who starred in the various county meets. It began on Tuesday when Ashley Higginson and Briana Jackucewicz of Colts Neck coasted to identical 18:58 marks at Holmdel while leading their team to the Monmouth County title.

On Friday, Sedberry returned to action after a month’s absence to win her fourth Cape May County title on a flat course at Cape May County Park in 17:38, taking 14 seconds off the course record she had set two years ago. The same day, Lara Heigis led Pope John to a repeat win in the Sussex County meet at the county fair grounds with a meet record of 18:03. Then, on Saturday, Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean and Amanda Marino of Jackson finished a second apart in the Ocean County meet in Lakewood with Tauro just missing the course record of 17:32 set by Jen Clausen of Jackson, who was third in this race. And, in the Gloucester County meet at Gloucester County College, Amanda Goetschius of Delsea. who had run 18:44 at Holmdel earlier this year, scored handily in 18:32.

Unlike 1982, when Bernards was clearly the best in the state all season, the team picture this year gets cloudier with every meet. The return of Cromartie filled out the Roxbury lineup for the first time this season and the defending all-group champions scored a solid victory on Tuesday in the Iron Hills championships at Freedom Par, averaging 19:08 with Jenn Ennis running 18:33 and Kris Stevens 18:48. The team average was 19:08 on a fairly hilly course. A better idea of what the Gaels might do at Holmdel will come at the Morris County meet this Saturday, held on the very tough Nabisco course in East Hanover.

On the same day, Colts Neck turned in the best average at Holmdel this season at 19:51, even though its two leaders hardly went all out. But they will have to do this on Saturday when they face a Jackson team which averaged a record 18:46 on the flat Ocean County Park course with Clausen running 18:21 and freshman Devin Solvik 18:39 behind Marino’s 17:35.

Pope John, which is in the process of putting together its team after problems with temporary ineligibility (Lauren Bariexca), illness (Brynn Merritt) and injury (Alessandra LaMastro) had seven in the first 10 at the Sussex meet, had an 18:56 average on the rolling Sussex Fair Grounds course.

Christian Brothers and Morris Hills will both come off 11-day competition respites as they go after major titles this week, the Knights in that Morris County meet and the colts in the Shore Conference. Neither will have any real opposition, so interest in both meets will center on individual action. Unbeaten Ben Massam of Chatham will go after Brian Walsh’s 1991 course (and school) record of 16:06 at Nabisco, while Craig Forys of Colts Neck could clash with Chris Horel at Holmdel, though CBA might run a team race as it did at the Monmouth meet.

Jeff Perrella of Westfield, who won the Watchung Conference title last Thursday in near-record time for the dual meet course at Warinanco Park, will be back there on Wednesday for another duel with Joe McKenney of Cranford in the Union County meet, while Brandon Jarrett of St. Benedict’s---who will not be in the state meet---will begin his search for a late-season triple in the Essex County meet on Friday at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield. Next Wednesday, he will go after the state A prep crown at Blair and a week from Saturday the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference crown on the championship course at Warinanco Park.

South Jersey having concluded its county meets will have four conference engagements this week, the revived Colonial Conference meet at Haddonfield, the Tri-County Conference at Cumberland and the Cape-Atlantic at Stockton State College on Thursday and the Olympic Conference on Thursday at Gloucester County College.

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