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New Jersey State Group Championships
Holmdel Park, Holmdel, NJ
Sunday, November 16, 2008
From Lou Fraulo Timing- Boys Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Non Pub A Non Pub B
Girls Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Non Pub A Non Pub B
AT LARGE SELECTIONS
Race Distance: 5000 meters.
Boys: 15:15.2, Craig Forys, Colts Neck, 2006
Girls: 17:35.5, Janet Smith, J.P. Stevens, 1983
PHOTO GALLERIES - Boys Group 1, Non Pub A, Non Pub B Boys Group 2,3,4 Girls Group 1, Non Pub A, Non Pub B, Girls Group 2,3,4
| Team Champs:|
At LARGE QUALIFIERS Into Meet of Champions
- Group 4 - Boys Old Bridge 125 over Cherokee 132; Girls Ridge 108 over Randolph 118
- Group 3 - Boys West Windsor North 42 points over Morris Hills 116. Girls Voorhees 87 over Hopewell Valley 157
- Group 2 - Boys Haddonfield 38 over Cinnaminson 133; Girls Haddonfield 73 over Chatham 93
- Group 1 Boys Haddon Twp. (52 points) over Haddon Heights (75 points); Girls Robbinsville 48 over N. Warren 82
- Non Public A - Boys -Don Bosco Prep (34 points) over Christian Brothers (86 points); Girls - IHA 60 points over RBC 67.
- Non Public B - Boys- Roselle Catholic (57 points) over team Pingry (74 points); Girls - Pingry 53 over Mt st Mary's 102
Wild Card Qualifiers:
Boys: West Windsor – Plainsboro South and Ridgewood
Girls: Hillsborough and South Brunswick
Collin Frost, Randolph
Phil Wood, Lacey Twp
Louis Catizone, Randolph
Joe Kotran, Toms River North
Jeremy Elkaim, Livingston
Anthony Bellitti, Ridge
Maanek Kumar, Piscataway
Ryan Culbreath, Kingsway
Salim Corbin, Eastside Paterson
Ryan Mathews, St. Augustine Prep
Daniel Fitzgerald, Kingsway
Chelsea Lodato, Old Bridge
Kristin Mathis, Williamstown
Corrie Gethard, Toms River East
Trish Reilly, West Windsor – Plainsboro North
Samantha Andersen, North Hunterdon
Megan Arnold, Timber Creek
Meghan Marro, Cherry Hill East
Brooke Kott, Millville
Mary Migton, Roxbury
Kelly Smyth, Toms River East
Group 4 Highlights
Group 3 Highlights
- Girls - Katie Kellner of NJ #14 West Windsor-Plainsboro South became her school's first state group champion with win in 18:19. Jill Smith of Southern decides to shut down for the season after aggravagting ankle injury and struggling to finish 8th. NJ # 2 Ridge wins its first state group title since 1987 by besting runner-up and NJ #5 Randolph, 108-118, with NJ # 4 Toms River North third with 134..
- Boys - Robby Andrews (Manalapan) overcomes 40 meter defecit over final half mile and overtakes Mark Leininger (Colts Neck) in homestretch to claim top honors in 16:10.
- Old Bridge uses 31 second compression to claim team crown by seven over Cherokee. Southern Regional and West Windsor Plainsboro South tie for the final qualifying spot, but Southern grabs the spot. West Windsor South and fifth-place Ridgewood earn the two wild cards.
- Boys: Tyler Udland of Millburn holds off hard charging Brett Johnson of Ocean City to win in with fastest time of the day (15:36, tied for No. 7 in course history). Johnson is second in 15:41 (No. 13 all-time at Holmdel), Joe Rosa of West Windsor North third in 15:51, and Sean Pohorence of Morris Hills takes fourth in 15:56. It's first time in meet history that four runners broke 16 minutes in one race.
- NJ#2/US#19 WWPN rips 16:24.6 avg., No. 11 in Holmdel history and the top team performance of the meet, winning by 74 over Morris Hills.
- Girls - With just 150 meters to go two of the nations top runners were side by side. Defending M of C title holder Lanie Thompson (Voorhees) pulls away from Chelsea Ley (Kingsway) for the win. Thomspn ran 17:56 and Ley 17:59..
- Defending M of C winner Voorhees averages meet best 19:48.4 and easily take third straight crown by 70 points.
Group 2 Highlights
Group 1 Highlights
- Girls - Haddonfield pulls off a sweep as the girls team claims top honors. Julia Mark (Delaware Valley) takes individual title by 16 seconds.
- Boys - Haddonfield claims team and individual honors. Jon Vitez takes 1st and Colin Baker 3rd to power Haddonfield to third straight win and 11th overall, the fourth most in state history
The next two qualifiers were Cinnaminson (133), and Summit (137) with Chatham fourth (143) as 10 points seperate the three teams. Summit eaned first trip to the M of C..
- Boys: Jr. Dave Oster of Vereona wins with dramtic lean at the line in 16:30. Nick Lachman of Robbinsville is second in 16:31. Last year, Oster lost by a nose to Mickey Borsellino of Haddon Heights as both ran 16:19.
- Haddon Twp. wins first title since 1988, 52-75 over defending champion Haddon Heights. Interestingly, Haddon Twp. coach Dave Donohue and Haddon Heights coach Matt Martin were teammates on the 1988 Haddon Twp. state championship team.
- Girls - Megan Flynn (Robbinsville) pulls away for a 3 second win to claim the individual crown and lead her team to its first title.
Non Public A Highlights:
- Boys: NJ #1/US#7 Don Bosco Prep puts six in top 12, averages 16:41 to win third straight title in 52 point rout over NJ#3 Christian Brothers. Delbarton junior Pat Schellberg breaks away from Leighton Spencer of Don Bosco in final mile to win in 16:20. Spencer was second in 16:24.
- Girls: Sarah Pagano wins second straight in 19:11 to lead NJ #8 Immaculate Heart Academy to its first state tile by seven points over NJ #3 RBC.
Non Public B Highlights:
- Boys: Doug Smith of Gill St. Bernard's is first to win three straight Non-Public B titles, running 16:13. Roselle Catholic puts four in top 11 to top Pingry by 17 for first title since 2004.
- Girls: Marie Walsh of Mater Dei claims the girls first title of the day taking 1st by 27 seconds
Pingry dominates, placing all 5 scorers in the top 25 (of scoring runners) taking the team title by 49
Udland rips 15:36, holds off late charging Johnson (15:41) as meet record four runners go sub 16 in Group 3. Smith wins third straight and Andrews' big kick earns Group 4 title.
Tyler Udland thought he had finally broken free and was headed for an uncontested sprint to the finish line.
But just when he started feeling comfortable, the junior at Millburn heard someone breathing down his neck with less than 300 meters remaining in yesterday’s NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group 3 Championship race at blustery Holmdel Park.
``The breathing got closer and closer,’’ said Udland. ``I thought it was Rosa (Joe from West Windsor North), but when I took a glance back I saw a red uniform and knew it was defending champion Brett Johnson. He came charging up the last hill before we came out of the woods and was right on my shoulder.’’
Udland knew that victory could escape his grasp if he didn’t react at that precise moment.
Udland responded with an explosive burst down the final straightway to hold off the Ocean City star and win in a blistering 15:36, tied for No. 7 in course history and the second fastest in Group 3 history. Johnson was second in 15:41, tied for No. 13 in course history in a race the lived up to all the advanced hype.
Udland and Johnson helped produce the fastest race in meet history. With sophomore Joe Rosa third in 15:51 and senior Sean Pohorence of Morris Hills fourth in 15:56, it’s the first time that four runners ran under 16 at Holmdel Park in a non-Meet of Champions race.
After Udland went past the first mile in 5:15 and two miles in 10:24 with Rosa, the pre-race favorite, right on his heels, it looked like the race would come down to a duel between those two. But Johnson, a 4:08 miler who won the M of C 1,600 last spring, came storming back from a seven second deficit with a half mile left to force the dramatic finish.
``I was surprised to see it was Johnson, and knowing he’s the best miler in the state, I was little worried,’’ said Udland, the M of C 3,200 winner last spring. ``I knew I had to really pick it up, but he stayed right on me until we came out of the woods. My legs were moving so fast and were getting so tired that I was afraid I might slip and fall. I think that he (Johnson) used up so much to catch up that he just didn’t have enough at the very end.’’
Udland, whose time is the fastest ever at Holmdel for an Essex County runner, said despite running the top time at Holmdel this season, he doesn’t necessarily view himself as the favorite for the Meet of Champions next Saturday at Holmdel Park. The race starts at 10 a.m.
``I think that any one of us, Johnson and Rosa, Robby Andrews, and Doug Smith can win,’’ said Udland, now 2-1 vs Johnson this season. ``It’ll probably take something faster to win next week because the wind was so bad today that is slowed times down a bit.’’
Johnson, who beat Udland at Holmdel at the Shore Coaches Invitational on Oct. 4 (15:44 to 15:48), feels the outcome can be different next week if he alters his race tactics.
``I need to be a little closer next week and then I feel I can pull it out,’’ said Johnson. ``Udland ran a great race today and were 1-1 at Holmdel on the season, so next week is the grudge match.’’
Rosa, who came into the race unbeaten in major invitationals this season and ran 15:38 at the Shore Coaches meet, wasn’t happy with his race.
``I didn’t run mentally strong,’’ said Rosa. ``I just kind of gave up when Johnson went by me. I know I can run better next week and feel that I will.’’
Smith, a senior at Gill St. Bernard’s, made some history when he became the first boy to win three straight Non-Public B titles and just the sixth boy to win three straight in any group. Smith ran 16:13 and believes he'll be a major contender to win the M of C race.
``I know Udland ran the fastest so people will look at him as the favorite, but I really feel it’ll be a two or three man race at two miles and I’ll be right up there,’’ said Smith, who has a personal best of 15:44 at Holmdel. ``Everyone in the state has lost, so it’s not like there’s a guy who is unbeatable.’’
Andrews, a senior, looked like he was on the verge of being upset by Mark Leininger of Colts Neck in the Group 4 race. But Andrews made a crazy comeback with his vaunted kick, making up 40 meters over the final half mile to win in 16:10. Andrews is the first state champion from Manalapan since Tom Fischer won his second straight Group 3 title in 1981.
Andrews was in fourth place when he went by two miles in 10:55, but he closed in 5:15 for the final 1.1 and he ran down a game Leininger.
``I thought I was running for second, but I kept getting closer and closer to him and just decided to let it all go. As for next week, I haven’t been training for top five. I’ve been training to win. ’’
Old Bridge stuns Group 4 field, West Windsor North (16:24.6 avg.) and Don Bosco Prep (16:41) roll to titles to set up M of C showdown.
Billy Crane said he and his Old Bridge teammates took the starting line yesterday with something to prove.
And they certainly succeeded, responding with a remarkable performance at the NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group 4 Championships at Holmdel Park.
Stinging from its runner-up finish to West Windsor South, 52-66, at last week’s Central Jersey, Group 4 Championships, Crane and the rest of the Old Bridge gang earned the vindication they sought by shocking the Group 4 field by finishing first with 125 points, seven more than runner-up Cherokee. Last year, Cherokee was first and Old Bridge second.
``Last week we ran complacent and just thought it would come to us and we wound up running a bad race,’’ said Crane, a senior, who was 19th overall and first for his team in 16:54. ``We were motivated to show that we are a better team than how we ran last week.’’
Old Bridge, which also reversed its sectional loss in 2006 with a victory over Jackson at the state Group 4 meet, has now won four state Group 4 titles (2001, 2004, 2006, 2008).
Old Bridge, with just one scorer from the 2007 Group 4 team in its top five yesterday, won its latest title on the strength of superior pack running. Old Bridge’s had a spread of just 31 seconds between its first and fifth runners.
Old Bridge’s No. 5 runner, senior Eric Leight came up huge for coach Rich Gebauer’s team, running 17:25 to place 49th, 11 spots ahead of Cherokee’s No. 5 man to rally Old Bridge to victory.
Leight, a first year runner, couldn’t have picked a better time to be a scorer for Old Bridge for the first time this season.
``We had something to prove today and went out with the mindset to run aggressive and have our best race of the season,’’ said Leight.
While Old Bridge’s triumph may have been viewed as the most surprising to most, the most impressive team performance was turned in by West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
West Windsor North, No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 19 nationally, won its second straight Group 3 title with 42 points and an average of 16:24.6, No. 11 in course history. That’s an especially impressive time considering the extremely windy conditions.
``We feel we can and will run even faster next week at the Meet of Champions and feel we have a good chance to win,’’ said West Windsor North sophomore Joe Rosa, third in Group 3 in 15:51. ``We know that Don Bosco will run better next week, so we’ll have to run our best to beat them.’’
Don Bosco, No. 1 in New Jersey and No. 7 nationally, won its third straight Non-Public A race in surprisingly convincing fashion, outscoring runner-up and No. 3 Christian Brothers, 34-86.
Don Bosco put six runners in front of CBA’s second man.
``No, we never expected to win by that much,’’ said Don Bosco senior Leighton Spencer. ``They must have had an off day. ’’
Despite the win, Spencer said his team must perform at a higher level to win its second straight M of C title next Saturday at Holmdel. Race time is 10 a.m.
``We know how good West Windsor North is and CBA will run much better, so we’re going to have to step it up,’’ said Spencer.
Haddonfield, No. 4 in the state, made it three in a row in Group 2 and 11 state titles overall, the fourth most in state history.
West Windsor South (17:18.6 average) and Ridgewood (17:20.0), fourth and fifth in Group 4, earned the two wild cards into the M of C. Of the 21 wild cards awarded since 1997, 18 have come from Group 4.
Roselle Catholic and Pingry grab Non-Public B crowns
Back on top: For the first time since 2004, the Roselle Catholic boys and the Pingry girls returned to the winner’s circle in Non-Public B at the NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group Championships yesterday at Holmdel Park
Led by sophomore Olivia Tarantino’s third-place finish in 19:46, Pingry of Martinsville defeated Somerset County rival Mount St. Mary of Watchung, 53-102, for its first title since winning its second straight in 2004.
The Roselle Catholic boys used great pack running, putting four runners ahead of Pingry’s No. 3, to score 57 points and win by 17 over Pingry to capture the Non-Public B boys title.
Fantasic finish, again: Dave Oster of Verona wasn’t going to let it happen again.
A year after being outleaned at the line in the Group 1 final, Oster found himself in the exact same situation as he battled Nick Lachman of Robbinsville down the final straightaway. But this time, it was Oster’s by a nose, crossing in 16:30. Lachman was second in 16:31.
``All could think about was that I can’t lose this way again,’’ said Oster, a junior. ``The guy just stayed right on my side, but I kind of knew I had the lean at the line. It feels a lot better to be on the winning side of a close finishs.’’
Redemption: Junior Pat Schellberg of Delbarton scored a satisfying victory by winning the Non-Public A race in 16:20.
Last year, Schellberg failed to finish the race, dropping out near the twol-mile mark.
``I actually made my move to the lead at the same place at dropped out lasat year,’’ said Schellbereg. ``I wanted to come here and redeem myself for what happened last year, so things couldn’t have gobe any bettere.’’
Ridge senior Francesca Carrone ran the final two miles of the Group 4 race with one shoe, but she still managed to place 30th overall and fourth for her team in 20:20 as Ridge won the state Group 4 title, its first state title since winning Group 2 in 1987.
Also running minus some footwear was Taro Shigenobu, who managed to finish fourth in 16:27 in Group 4 despite running the last 1.1 miles with one shoe after he got spiked. Led by Shigenobu, Ridgewood finished fifth in with 191 points as earned the second and final wild card into the Meet of Champions based on its 17:20 average.
Dream seasons continued: The Johnson girls followed up their first Central Jersey, Group 2 title by earning their first trip to the Meet of Champions. Johnson placed third in the state Group 2 race with 110 points.
The Summit and Mendham boys also made school history by earning trips to the M of C for the first time. Summit avenged its North Jersey, Section 2 Group 2 list to Iron Hills Conference rival Chatham, finishing third with 137. Chatham was fourth with 143. Senior Jordan Healy, Summit's sixth man at the sectionals, came up big yesterday, finishing asa the fifth man for his team to clinch the titlte.
Mendham, No. 6 in the state, advanced by placing third in Group 3 with 118 points., two points behind Morris County rival No. 5 Morris Hills.
Southern, fifth in the boys South Jersey, Group 4 race last week, turned in its best race of the season, placing third in Group 4 with 177 points to advance to the M of C for the first time.
First-timers: Katie Kellner, Julia Mark and Megan Flynn each brought home their school’s first state title in cross-country.
Kellner, a senior, won the Group 4 race in 18:18 and is the first state champion for West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
Mark, also a senior, became Delaware Valley’s first cross-country champion when she captured the Group 2 title in 19:12. Mark was her school’s first outdoor track state champion after she won the Group 2 3,200 meters last spring.
Flynn, a junior, is Robbinsville’s first winner after racing home alone in the Group 1 race in 19:39.
Robbinsville’s M of C debut: The Robbinsville girls program is only in its second season, but it managed to capture its second team title in as many weeks when it won the Group 1 title, 48-82, over North Jersey Section 1, Group 2 champion North Warren of Blairstown.
Last week Robbinsville won its first Central Jersey, Group 1 title with a 32-60 decision over Shore Regional.
West Windsor North steamrolls into the Meet of Champions. West Windsor South also advances.
On a day not conducive to running fast, West Windsor-Plainsboro North did so anyway, blitzing the Holmdel Park course with the most impressive performance at yesterday’s NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group Championships.
And the Knights didn’t even have its best day. But it was still good enough to win its second straight Group 3 title and post a five-man average of 16:24.6, the top time of the meet, a Mercer County record and No. 11 all-time on Holmdel’s current course that has been used since 1979.
West Windsor North, No. 2 in New Jersey and No 19 nationally, simply outclassed the Group 3 field, putting four runners across the line before any other team had two runners cross as it scored 42 points. Morris Hills, No. 5 in New Jersey, was a distance second with 116.
Leading the way as usual for West Windsor North was sophomore Joe Rosa, third in 15:51. Joe’s twin, Jim, was fifth in 16:01. The rest of the scorers for the Knights were Tyler Corkedale, ninth in 16:33, Jon Squeri, 11th in 16:44, and Anthony Lee, 15th in 16:54.
West Windsor’s average was especially impressive considering the blustery conditions and that fact that Joe Rosa didn’t have his best race (he was 13 seconds off his Holmdel best) and Ryan Sleeper, usually in the top four for the Knights, was the sixth man.
``If we all run what we’re capable of we can go much faster at the Meet of Champions next week,’’ said Joe Rosa. ``While I know that I can run faster and Ryan can, it was great to see Jim and Tyler have their best races. This gives us a lot of condfidence heading into next week. We feel we have a good shot at winning.’’
Rosa knows that West Windsor North’s biggest obstacle at next Saturday's M of C (10 a.m.) will be defending champion Don Bosco Prep, No. 1 in New Jersey and No. 7 nationally. Don Bosco, which hasn’t lost to a New Jersey team since placing second at the M of C to Jackson in 2006, won its third straight Non Public A title and averaged 16:41.
A Mercer County team has never won a Meet of Champions title.
``We know how tough that race will be and we know they will run better,’’ said Joe Rosa. ``So we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.’’
Rosa, who came into the race unbeaten in major invitational this season, wasn’t real hapy with his third place finish.
Rosa was in second place, about five meters behind eventual winner Tylerr Udland of Millburn with a half mile to go. Rosa was passed with defending champion Brett Johnson of Ocean City with about 600 to go.
``I’m disappointed,’’ said Rosa. ``I expected more out of myself, but I didn’t run a very mentally strong race. I kind of gave up when Johnson went by me. I cacn’t do that next week.’’
The finish by Udland (15:36, tied for No. 7 in course history), Johnson (15:41, tied for No. 12), Rosa (15:51), and fourth-place finishers Sean Pohorence of Morris Hills (15:56), marked the first time in Holmdel Park history that four runners dipped below 16 minutes in a non-Meet of Champions race.
West Windsor South, despite illness to one of its top runners (Sam Macaluso) still managed to earn a spot in the M of C race.
West Windsor South, the Cenrtral Jersey, Group 4 champion, advanced to the M of C as one of the two wilds cards for the second straight year. The Pirates were fourth in Group 4 and averaged 17:21.8. West Windsor was led by senior Kevin Foy, fifth in 16:33.
Robbinsville missed earning the third and final qualifying spot in Group 1, placing fourth in Group 1 with 111 points, 11 points behind third-place Metuchen.
Robbinsville junior Nick Lachman nearly captured the individual title, getting outleaned at the line by Dave Oster of Verona. Oster ran 16:30 and Lachman was second in 16:31.
Flash!! - Bad weather forecast forces postponement of Groups to Sunday - same schedule
In an unprecedented move, the NJSIAA has postponed the state group cross-country championships that were scheduled for Saturday at Holmdel Park, NJSIAA cross-country tournament director Don Danser announced yesterday.
Because of a weather forecast that is predicting thunderstorms throughout the day, Danser said the meet has been rescheduled for Sunday at Holmdel Park. The same race schedule will be used.
Danser said that according to Ed Grant, the New Jersey track and field and cross-country historian, this is the first time since the state group cross-country meet began in 1919 that it’s been postponed. ``The threat of thunderstorms all day makes it impossible to protect all the runners and spectators in a place were parking is remote and there are a lack of shelters that would be needed for more than 1,000 people,’’ said Danser. ``If it were just rain, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. We always run in the rain. But we can’t take the risk with thunderstorms because it’s a safety issue. And Sunday’s forecast looks much better.’
Fast Fact: When Craig Forys of Colts Neck set the course record of 15:15.2 at Holmdel Park at the 2006 Meet of Champions, he ran 5:14 for the first mile,.split 4:57 for the second mile and closed in 5:04 for the final 1.1.
The Road to Holmdel
Qualifying places in SMOC on the line
Robby Andrews is the obvious individual favorite. But the team picture isn’t so clear cut.
Andrews, a senior at Manalapan who was fifth in this race last year and fourth at the Meet of Champions, won the Central Jersey, Group 4 title in 15:55. Barring a big upset, Andrews should become the first state champion from Manalapan since Tom Fischer captured his second straight Group 3 championship in 1981.
In the team competition, the stacked and wide open field includes No. 7 West Windsor-Plainsboro South, No. 9 Old Bridge, No. 10 Toms River North, No. 11 Randolph, No. 13 Cherokee, No. 16 Washington, No. 17 Ridgewood, No. 18 Cherry Hill East, No. 19 Southern and No. 20 Manalapan.
West Windsor South, the Central Jersey winner, and North Jersey, Section 1 champion Randolph, are each seeking their first state title. Those two, plus Toms River North, averaged very similar times on different courses in winning sectional titles.
West Windsor South, led by junior Sam Macaluso and senior Kevin Foy, averaged 16:45 and defeated Old Bridge, 52-66, at the Central Jersey meet.
Randolph, which has gotten a tremendous lift from former football player Lou Catzione at the front of its pack, ran for an average of 16:47 when it ended Ridgewood's streak of six straight North Jersey, Section 1 titles.
In South Jersey, Toms River North finished first and averaged 16:43 in its 98-107 win over Cherokee.
As for the spreads between each team's 1-5 runners, West Windsor South had a 73-second gap, Randolph 76 seconds and Toms River North 83 seconds.
Another team to keep an eye on is Ridge. Although it averaged just 17:31 in its three-point triumph over Bridgewater-Raritan in North Jersey, Section 2, Ridge ran 16:54 in its previous race at the Skyland Conference Championships at Pleasant Valley Park. And Ridge, the state Group 3 champion in 2006, had a 54-second spread at the conference meet and 60 seconds last week.
Cherokee will be trying to extend its remarkable streak to 12 straight berths in the M of C.
The best: West Windsor South, Old Bridge, Manalapan, Randolph, Ridge, Toms River North, Cherokee, Washington, Bridgewater-Raritan, Ridgewood, Southern, Cherry Hill East.
The rest: Livingston, Clifton, Kearny, Westfield, Dickinson, Hunterdon Central, East Brunswick, Colts Neck.
The best: Robby Andrews, Manalapan; Taro Shigenobu, Ridgewood; Mark Leininger, Colts Neck; Joe Kotran, Toms River North; Sam Macaluso, West Windsor South; Jordan Magath, Hillsborough; Daniel Rondon, North Bergen; Chris Banafato, Bridgewater-Raritan; Max Mittelmnan, Mainland.
The rest: Lou Catizone, Randolph; Brian Mendez, Kearny; Anthony Bellitti, Ridge; Maanek Kumar, Piscataway; Kevin Fot, West Windsor South; Ryan Garvin, Lenape; Aaron Lewkow, Toms River North
Predictions: Andrews will sit and kick for the win around 16:00 and West Windsor South grabs its first title in a tight finish over Toms River North with Randolph grabbing the third and final automatically qualifying spot..
This has all the makings of race for the ages.
There has never been a group race in which more than three runners have broken 16 minutes, but with arguably the deepest collection of talented runners in meet history toeing the line, there’s a strong possibility that as many as seven runners could rip a sub 16. But if the forecast for rain on race day is accurate, the wet course would most likely slow the times down.
And the course record team average of 16:15.2 (CBA in 2005) could also be challenged by West Windsor North, but the chances of that happening depend heavily on the weather.
Joe Rosa of West Windsor North, defending champion Brett Johnson of Ocean City, Tyler Udland of Millburn and David Forward of Shawnee have all broken 16 at Holmdel this season,. Meanwhile, Sean Pohorence of Morris Hills, Jim Rosa (Joe’s twin) of West Windsor North and Mike Franklin of Mendham are all capable of running under 16 under good conditions.
Rosa, a sophomore, is the only runner in the state that is undefeated in major meets (he has allowed teammates to finish ahead of him in duals) and ran a Holmdel sophomore course record of 15:38 when he won his race at the Shore Coaches Invitational on Oct. 4.
This is the first time this season that Rosa will meet Johnson or Udland, and it’ll be the third time Johnson and Udland meet after splitting their two races.
Johnson ran 15:44 to finish first and Udland was second in 15:48 at the Shore Coaches meet. Udland avenged that defeat the following week at the Manhattan Invitational. Forward ran 15:59 when he was second to Rosa at the Shore Coaches Invitational.
Rosa can’t wait.
``Any one of four or five guys can win,’’ said Rosa. ``There will be such a big pack of great runners. It’s going to be a great race and it could take 15:30 or under to win.’’
Only three runners in state history have run under 15:30 on the current Holmdel layout, which has been used since 1979.
Rosa knows Johnson has the edge if the race is close late.
``If we leave it too close, he’ll probably get us since he obviously has the fastest leg speed,’’’ said Rosa. ``So a faster pace would probably favor me and Udland.’’
Johnson, the M of C 1,600 winner last spring, said he’s not worried about what pace everyone else runs.
``I know I have to stay under control in the first mile,’’ said Johnson. ``My best races come when I stay relaxed, react to what is going on around me and negative split. It’s okay with me if I am behind by five seconds or so at two miles because I know I can make it up at the end. Form the tennis courts to the finish I usually keep getting faster and faster. I consider myself the underdog and will do everything to stay in contention and run the race the best way I know how.’’
The team race should also be interesting. West Windsor North, No. 2 in the state and No. 19 nationally, is favored to repeat, but with No. 5 Morris Hills, No. 6 Mendham, No. 8 Millburn, and No.12 Ocean City, and No. 15 Kingsway in the field, there’s a chance that both wild cards will come out of this race.
Last year, Morris Hills was the favorite, but was upset by West Windsor North.
``That’s all kind of switched around this year,’’ said Rosa. ``But we know how good Morris Hills and the other teams are, so we aren’t overlooking anyone. We will have to run a great race to win.’’
As for the course record average, Rosa wasn’t about to make a prediction, but didn’t rule it out.
``Don Bosco (No. 1 in N.J. and No. 7 in the nation) could get it and who knows, maybe we can too,’’ said Rosa. ``But the most important thing is that we win and run something comparable to Don Bosco so we can gain more confidence for the Meet of Champions.’’
The best: West Windsor North, Morris Hills, Mendham, Millburn, Ocean City, Kingsway, Holmdel, Shawnee, Moorestown,
The rest: Old Tappan, Mount Olive, Sparta, Wayne Hills, Morristown, Phillipsburg, Scotch Plains, Hopewelll Valley, Hightstown, Northern Burlington, Highland Reg.
The best: Joe Rosa, West Windsor North, Brett Johnson, Ocean City, Tyler Udland, Millburn, Sean Pohorence, Morris Hills, David Forward, Shawnee, Jim Rosa, West Windsor North, Mike Franklin, Mendham, George Galasso, Holmdel, Liam Tansey, Morris Hills, Tyler Corkedale, West Windsor North, Ryan Sleeper West Windsor North, Ryan Culbreath, Kingsway, Phil Wood, Lacey
Dayne Mosconi, Tenafly, Tommy Gaidus, Northern Highlands, Martin Sweeney, Scotch Plains, Brian Robinson, Millburn, Dan Kirschner, Millburn, Mike Bowden, Northern Burlington, Jon Squeri, West Windsor North,Tyler Hendrickson, Morris Hills, Vinny Chiusano, Morris Hills, Kyle Gorczynski, Highland Reg,,
Predictions: Joe Rosa will run around 15:35 to win and lead West Windsor North to a second straight title. Morris Hills will get second and Mendham third.
This will probably be the most lopsided team race of the day as Haddonfield, No. 4 in The Star-Ledger Top 20, doesn't appear to have a legitimate threat in its quest for a third straight title and 11th overall.
Individually, South Jersey winner Jon Vitez of Haddonfield is favored to make it two straight, but he should get a push from North Jersey, Section 2 champion Chris Johnson of Gov. Livingston.
Haddonfield is coming off a near-perfect score of 16 in winning the South Jersey title and should post the lowest score of the day in this one.
The battle for the other two automatic qualifying spots should be a dandy between Cinnaminson, Chatham, Summit, Wallkill Valley and Indian Hills.
Summit is seeking its first trip to the M of C after narrowly missing last year. It finished fourth, just six points behind Bernards, which grabbed the third and final qualifying spot. But Summit must bounce back from a subpar race at the North Jersey, Section 2 meet, where it placed second, 45-54, to a surging Chatham team. Summit was 3-0 vs. Chatham on the season prior to that race.
Wallkill Valley, a program on the rise, is also eyeing its first trip to the M of C after its thrilling 63-65 victory over Indian Hills in the North Jersey, Section 1 race.
The best: Haddonfield, Wallkill Valley, Indian Hills, Cinnaminson, Chatham, Summit, Red Bank.
The rest: Pascack Hills, Delsea, Bernards, Gov. Livingston, Cranford, Newton, Ramsey, Matawan, Point Pleasant Beach, Rumson, Pinelands, Bridgeton, Pleasantville.
The best: Jon Vitez, Haddonfield; Chris Johnson, Gov. Livingston; Colin Baker, Haddonfield; Thomas Bragen, Point Pleasant Boro; Max Sparshatt, Rumson; Rob Albano, Pequannock; Taylor Trumbetti, Pascack Hills; Alan Zaccone, Mahwah, and Ray Schlitt, Haddonfield.
The rest: Josh Baker, Chatham; Nick Beckmann, Jefferson; Mike Galonski, Newton; Brandon Chiesa, Wallkill Valley; Todd Campbell, Cinnaminson; Matt Metlitz, Red Bank; Peter Thorpe, Spotswood; and Ben Potts, Haddonfield.
PREDICTIONS: Haddonfield, with Vitez grabbing individual honors in approximately 16:00, will put its first five in the top 20 and score in the mid-30s to win comfortably, improving its state-title total to 11, No. 4 in state history.
Dave Oster has waited a year for this race, and the junior at Verona is determined not to let this chance slip away.
Last year, Oster came out on the wrong end of a memorable sprint duel with Mickey Borsellino of Haddon Heights. Both runners ran 16:19, but Borsellino was half a step ahead.
"Yeah, it's been a big goal of mine to get back to this race and win it," Oster said. "It was tough losing such a close race last year. Hopefully, I can get the win this time."
Oster will have to deal with another very talented Haddon Heights runner in senior Josh Black, the South Jersey winner in 16:37.
If Oster wins, he would be the first state champion from Verona.
In the team race, Haddon Township looks like the favorite after dethroning Haddon Heights, the 2007 Group 1 champion, for the South Jersey, Group 1 crown by a 32-45 margin last week. But if Haddon Township has an off day, first-time sectional champions Robbinsville (Central Jersey), North Warren of Blairstown (North Jersey, Section 1) and Verona (North Jersey, Section 2) as well as Haddon Heights are all capable of winning.
Haddon Township is seeking its first title since 1988 and its sixth overall.
The best: North Warren, Verona, Robbinsville, Haddon Township, Haddon Heights, Leonia and Metuchen.
The rest: Mountain Lakes, Saddle Brook, Pompton Lakes, McNair Academic, Palisades Park, Belvidere, Whippany Park, Shore Regional, Henry Hudson, New Providence, Pennsville, Woodstown and Penns Grove.
The best: Dave Oster, Verona; Josh Black, Haddon Heights; Victor Lopez, Leonia; Nick Lachman, Robbinsville; Patrick Rono, Lyndhurst; Matt Giacobbe, Cedar Grove; Mike Hookham, Middlesex, and Pat Rochford, Bogota.
The rest: Louis Schiedeler, Westwood; Stephen Lewandowski, Mountain Lakes; Ben Singleton, Univertsity Charter; Joel DeLeo, Hudson County Prep; Kyle Hannis, Dunellen; Chris Hubler, Haddon Township, and Colin Lynch, Haddon Heights.
Oster runs around 16:20 to win and Haddon Township takes a tight one over Haddon Heights.
Non Public A
Don Bosco Prep versus Christian Brothers Academy.
It is one of cross-country's best rivalries and promises to provide another thrilling chapter when the titans clash again for a state championship.
Don Bosco Prep of Ramsey, No. 1 in The Star-Ledger Top 20 and the Northeast and No. 7 nationally, and Christian Brothers of Lincroft, No. 3 in the state and No. 5 in the Northeast, have combined to win the last 13 titles. Christian Brothers won 11 straight from 1995 through 2005 and Don Bosco has taken the last two.
Last year, Don Bosco finished first with 55 and CBA was second with 71. But CBA is stronger than it was a year ago, so the outcome is expected to be closer.
Don Bosco, the state's only undefeated team, beat CBA at the Manhattan Invitational on Oct. 11 when it scored 154 points and averaged 13:04.92 over Van Cortlandt Park's 2.5-mile course. Christian Brothers was sixth with 221 and averaged 13:18.69.
Since then, both teams are unbeaten. Don Bosco ran a course-record 15:42.1 to win the Bergen County M of C at Darlington Park on Nov. 1. Christian Brothers won the Shore Conference title with an average of 15:53.8, No. 2 in course history, at Ocean County Park on Oct. 30.
"We know we're going to have to run our best to win," said Syracuse-bound Rob Molke of Don Bosco. "CBA has been getting better every week and has a very strong pack, so it should be a great race."
For CBA to pull off the upset, it needs to put together its best race of the season. Tom Heath, CBA's veteran coach, is an expert at setting up a race plan at Holmdel, so if his team can execute it this could be a great finish.
If CBA wins, it would tie Bernards for the most titles in state history with 23.
Individually, Molke and Leighton Spencer of Don Bosco, Pat Schellberg of Delbarton of Morris Township, D.J. Thornton of Union Catholic of Scotch Plains, Bobby McGann of Red Bank Catholic and Mike Mazzaccaro of Christian Brothers should form a tight lead pack.
Molke ran 15:17.1 to win the Bergen County Meet of Champions and has a Holmdel best of 16:08.
Schellberg, Thornton and Mazzaccaro have all run 16:20 at Holmdel this season and McGann has a personal best of 16:21 at Holmdel. At the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships last week at Warinanco, Schellberg won in 16:51.3 and Thornton, who slipped and fell in the mud, was second in 17:06.4.
The best: Don Bosco Prep, Christian Brothers, Red Bank Catholic, Delbarton, Pope John, Paul VI and St. Augustine.
The rest: Notre Dame, Bishop Eustace and Bergen Catholic.
The best: Rob Molke, Don Bosco; Leighton Spencer, Don Bosco; Pat Schellberg, Delbarton; D.J. Thornton, Union Catholic; Mike Mazzaccaro, Christian Brothers; Bobby McGann, Red Bank Catholic; Mike Rankin, Paul VI, and Phil Fanz, St. Augustine.
The rest: Conor Cunningham, Delbarton; Mike Belgiovine, Don Bosco; Dennis Smith, Christian Brothers; Dan Bailey, Christian Brothers; Ryan Mathews, St. Augustine, and Tom Hoban, Paul VI.
Don Bosco's frontal attack with Molke and Spencer will be the difference as Don Bosco makes it three straight by about 12 points.
Non Public B
Doug Smith will look for an historic three-peat while Roselle Catholic and Pingry will square off in what should be a dramatic duel for the team title.
Smith, a senior at Gill St. Bernard's, is favored to become the first runner in Non-Public B history, and just the sixth boy in any group, to win three straight titles.
With a victory, Smith would join five all-time greats, Gene Fekete of Lower Camden County (1948-50); Russ Taintor of Brick (1965-67); Jason DiJoseph of Paul VI (1986-88); Brendan Heffernan of North Hunterdon (1990-92), and Matt Elmuccio of Westfield (1994-96), as the only runners in state history to capture three straight state titles.
Oskar Nordenbring of Montclair Kimberley won three Parochial B titles, but not in a row. He won in 2001, 2002 and 2004.
"Winning three in a row is definitely something that would mean a lot," Smith said. "It means I've been around for a long time and running well for a while."
After a slow start to the season by his standards (16:28 at the Shore Coaches meet at Holmdel on Oct. 4), Smith ripped a 15:29 to win at the state prep championships on Nov. 5.
"My plan all season has been to run my fastest in November and I feel I'm ready to do that," Smith said.
Smith was third at the M of C in 2006 and was one of the favorites last year before illness caused him to drop out midway through the race.
"I know I'm running out of time and want these next few weeks to be the best races of my career," Smith said.
Smith, who ran a personal best at Holmdel with a Non-Public B record of 15:44 last year, wants to make a statement with a fast time.
"Since I'm running in the first race to start the day, hopefully I'll give them (the other runners) something to look at," Smith said. "I want to put together a strong, full race and simulate the type of effort I'll need at the Meet of Champions. A definite goal would be something under my p.r. of 15:44."
In the team race, Roselle Catholic, the Non-Public B champion in 2004, and Pingry, which has won three of the past five years, are expected to have a great battle for the top spot. But also keep an eye on Newark Academy, which is coming off its first state Prep B title in 13 years and is seeking its first berth in the Meet of Champions.
Pingry has a big edge up front with Dan Schuchinsky and Matt LaForgia, who should get across before Roselle Catholic's first. So Roselle Catholic will most likely need to get four runners in before Pingry's fourth and get a big race from its No. 5 to rally for the win.
Schuchinsky and LaForgia should have a good battle for second with Paterson Catholic's Anthony Andrews , a sophomore star on the rise.
The best: Roselle Catholic, Pingry, Newark Academy, Gill St. Bernard's and St. Joseph (Hamm.).
The rest: Montclair Kimberley, Mater Dei, St. Rose and Moorestown Friends.
The best: Doug Smith, Gill St. Bernard's; Dan Schuchinsky, Pingry; Matt LaForgia, Pingry, Anthony Andrews, Paterson Catholic, and Bob Engel, Moorestown Friends.
The rest: Ben Press, Newark Academy; Travis Boscia, Roselle Catholic; Vinny Nicastro, Roselle Catholic, and Joe Skydel, Newark Academy.
Smith will get his three-peat by putting up a solid 15:50 and Roselle Catholic captures its fifth title in a squeaker over Pingry
Of the 20 teams that automatically qualified for the state Group 4 race, only four of them have ever won a state title. And of those four, only one, the defending champion, Toms River North, has a realistic shot at contending for another crown.
All of which means that the Group 4 battle is a wide-open shootout with as many as five teams -- Ridge, Randolph, Toms River North, South Brunswick and Hillsborough -- racing for the trophy.
Perhaps the team with the most to gain from winning is Ridge. This is coach Tim Mooney's best team and he's endured four straight runner-up finishes in Group 3, so he and his Basking Ridge team are certainly not lacking for motivation.
Ridge won its first sectional title in three years at the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 meet last weekend.
"I think we have a good shot at winning," said Ridge's Richmond-bound Dana Guglielmo, who is aiming for the Holmdel Park school record of 18:47, set two years ago by former teammate Nicol Traynor, now at Richmond.
"I think we can run faster than last week," said Guglielmo, a senior. "There wasn't much competition last week, and once we have a bunch of other teams in the race we'll definitely go faster. None of us are nervous. We don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves, but if we're all healthy, we have a really good chance."
Randolph is enjoying a season that it ended a couple title droughts. Coach Len Pietrewicz's squad won its first Iron Hills Conference's Iron Division title since 1997 and won its first Morris County title since 1999. It captured its second straight North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 title on Saturday.
"It's definitely one of our goals now, to win state (title)," Randolph sophomore Joelle Amaral said. "Our goals at the beginning of the season was to win conference, county and sectionals. Now that we're here, we can definitely do it. There are some good teams but if we put together one of our best races, it's possible."
The best: Ridge, Toms River North, Randolph, Hillsborough and South Brunswick.
The rest: Cherry Hill East, Clifton, Colts Neck, Howell, Hunterdon Central of Flemington, J.P. Stevens of Edison, Livingston, Millville, North Hunterdon of Annandale, Ridgewood, Southern Regional of Manahawkin, Westfield, West Orange, West Windsor-Plainsboro South and Williamstown
The best: Jill Smith, Southern Regional; Katie Kellner, West Windsor-Plainsboro South, and Briana Jackucewicz, Colts Neck.
The rest: Joelle Amaral, Randolph; Natalie Anthony, Randolph; Cayla DelPiano, South Brunswick; Dana Guglielmo, Ridge; Caitlin Orr, Lenape; Jill Prentice, Montgomery; Angela Rugino, Toms River North; Maria Ruiz, Williamstown, and Ashley Smolinka, Hillsborough;
Southern's Smith will win this race hands down in about 18:15, but the team race is not be so easy to forecast. Considering experience, the depth of each contender and the time separation of its pack between first and fifth runners, Ridge wins here in one of the state's tightest finishes.
Kingsway junior Chelsea Ley could smash the Holmdel Park course record and not win the race.
It's a cruel reality Ley said she has already considered when thinking about her battle with Voorhees senior Lanie Thompson in the NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group 3 Championship on Saturday at Holmdel Park.
The record is 17:35, set by Janet Smith of J.P. Stevens in 1983. Holmdel has served as the state's championship layout since 1979.
Ley posted a shocking 17:43, No. 3 in state history, at the Shore Coaches Invitational on Oct. 4. Thompson's career best at Holmdel is the 18:02 that she ran to win the Meet of Champions title last fall.
Ley also has one other nugget in her favor. On Oct. 30, the runner from the Gloucester County school became the first and only New Jersey girl to break 17 minutes on a certified 5-K course when she won the Tri-County Conference title at Cumberland High in 16:54.
Ley made it clear at the Shore Coaches meet -- and she reiterated it this week -- that she thinks she will break the record.
"We are evenly matched," Ley said. "If she winds up beating me with a record, she deserves it. It would be a huge letdown if I got the record and she beat me, but it would be because she deserved it. If she can do that she's definitely a great runner."
Ley may have the advantage of owning the better Holmdel time, but Thompson may have two factors in her favor. Thompson, who has won the last two Group 3 titles, is unbeaten in 10 career head-to-head meetings with Ley. And, whereas Ley is concerned with racing the clock, Thompson is focused on racing Ley.
Following a training session at Holmdel with her team earlier this week, Thompson said she hasn't been thinking about the course record, only the state title.
"Whoever wins will be running fast, that's for sure," Thompson said. "We always say to run the race, not the pace. I just plan on competing with Chelsea. I've never gone into a race having a plan for time. If Chelsea wins or we all run under 18 (minutes), it's something to be happy about. As competitive as I am, I'll be happy about a fast time."
The best: Voorhees, Hopewell Valley, Seneca and Holmdel.
The rest: Central Regional, Highland Regional, High Point, Middletown South, Millburn, Morris Hills, Morris Knolls, Morristown, Northern Highlands, Phillipsburg, Princeton, Roxbury, Shawnee, Timber Creek, Wayne Hills and West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
The best: Chelsea Ley of Kingsway and Lanie Thompson of Voorhees.
The rest: Tori Berard, Morris Knolls; Clare Buck, Hopewell Valley; Corinne Fitzgerald, Morris Hills; Julie Jablonski, Hopewell Valley; Megan Venables, Highland Regional; Laura Vigilante, Mendham, and Colette Whitney, Voorhees.
If the course is in good condition -- the forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-50s and a chance of rain -- Ley will break the course record with a 17:30, but she'll be following Thompson, who will win her third straight Group 3 title with a course-record 17:28. Voorhees is too strong for Hopewell Valley and will claim its third straight title.
Marielle Hall and her Haddonfield teammates may be competing in the one race on Saturday that won't be up for much discussion as far as predicting winners.
Hall, a junior, is the defending individual champion, and Haddonfield has won the last three Group 2 titles.
Just don't tell Johnson coach Cindy Calnen or Delaware Valley runner Julia Mark that the race has already been decided.
"I think we have realistic expectations," said Calnen, whose Clark team won its first Central Jersey, Group 2 title on Saturday. "I never say don't shoot for No. 1. However, the girls are very well aware of the depth Haddonfield has. That's not to say we're not going to give 'em heck. To be honest, for us it's more like let's get in (the Meet of Champions)."
Johnson is aiming for its first automatic berth for the M of C, which is can achieve by finishing among the top three teams.
Mark, a senior at the Hunterdon County school in Alexandria, is 2-3 in her last five meetings with Hall, both on the cross-country course and on the track. The last time they faced each other was the Shore Coaches Invitational Oct. 4, when Hall out-sprinted the Delaware Valley runner in the final 300 meters to win, 18:52.5 to 18:53.4.
Mark's last victory over Hall came in the outdoor track state Group 3 1,600 meter race, 5:11.39 to 5:12.84.
"It's pretty hard to pick one of us because in most races we're neck and neck at the finish," Mark said. "It will be interesting to see how it turns out on Saturday. I'd like to get down to 18:30 and not worry about mile splits. It's whoever has the better day, because we're going to run pretty similar times."
The best: Haddonfield, Johnson and Red Bank.
The rest: Barnegat, Chatham, Cranford, Delaware Valley, Delsea, Glen Rock, Hanover Park, Indian Hills, Mahwah, Madison, Manasquan, Pascack Hills, Ramsey, Rumson, Sterling, Summit and West Deptford.
The best: Marielle Hall of Haddonfield and Julia Mark of Delaware Valley.
The rest: Mallory Anderson, Madison; Kaitlin Chegwidden, Wallkill Valley; Alexandra Clinton, Ramsey; Emma Giantisco, Delaware Valley; Cathy Goncalves, Johnson; Kat Grimes, Chatham; Meghan McGlinchey, West Deptford, and Sara Vagie, Johnson.
Hall will out-kick Mark by one second in around 18:25, while Haddonfield makes it four in a row.
The state Group 1 championship race could end up serving as the sweetest redemption for Robbinsville's Megan Flynn.
Flynn, a junior, missed all but one cross-country race last fall because of tendinitis in her right knee and an Achilles' tendon. She carefully and patiently rehabbed until she was ready to go full speed which came last winter when she won the indoor track Group 1 3,200 meters in 11:25.83.
She capped her outdoor track season last spring by winning another Group 1 3,200 title, this time in 11:28.0.
Despite her success on the track, the possibility of a cross-country state title would be the one Flynn savors the most. She set up the biggest race of her career to this point by winning the Central Jersey, Group 1 title in 19:27.2 last weekend.
"Last cross-country season I didn't really do much, so I'm ready to show something," Flynn said after her rain-soaked effort on Saturday at Thompson Park in Jamesburg. "I'm going to go into it with confidence. I've put everything I have into my training and I'm ready for this moment."
If she is, indeed, ready, Flynn will be the first Mercer County girl to win a state title since Beverly Rockhill of Hamilton won the Group 4 title in 1979. That was the first year the state went to a 3.1-mile format for the girls.
The best: Haddon Township, Mountain Lakes, North Warren and Robbinsville.
The rest: Belvidere, Dayton of Springfield, Haddon Heights, Hasbrouck Heights, Kinnelon, McNair Academic, Maple Shade, Metuchen, New Providence, Pennsville, Pitman, Point Pleasant Beach, Shore Regional, Verona, Waldwick and Whippany Park.
The best: Brianna Feerst of Point Pleasant Beach, Megan Flynn of Robbinsville, and Kristen Landry of Mountain Lakes.
The rest: Elise Brevet, Metuchen; Olivia Clyde, New Providence; Elizabeth Eickelberg, Leonia; Rachel Greenberg, Pitman; Lindsey McKee, North Warren; Rachel Murray, Dayton, and Shona Potrzuski, Pitman.
Flynn will win in 19:00, while Mountain Lakes will gain revenge on North Warren for its sectional defeat last week and grab its second state title and first since 2005.
Non Public A
The 2006 Non-Public A race featured the tightest finish in state group meet history, as the top four teams were within four points of each other.
Holy Angles won that year with a 69 points, followed by Msgr. Donovan with 71 and Red Bank Catholic and Pope John, each with 73.
This year's race could very well mirror that day two years ago, with Red Bank Catholic, Pope John, Holy Angels and Immaculate Heart as the leading contenders.
Based on results alone, it's hard to tell where the favorites begin and the contenders end, because it seems as if they have gone back and forth all season, taking turns beating each other.
Red Bank Catholic beat Immaculate Heart at the Bowdoin Park Classic on Sept. 20, but Immaculate Heart repaid the debt by beating Red Bank Catholic in the Eastern States Championship race at the Manhattan Invitational Oct. 11.
The only meet where all four contenders raced on the same turf on the same day was the Manhattan meet, where Pope John posted the fourth fastest five-runner average (16:06.8 for 2.5 miles) for a New Jersey team, while Immaculate Heart was sixth (16:15.4), Red Bank Catholic (16:33.0) was 10th and Holy Angels (16:54.6) was 15th.
More recently, Holy Angels leaped to stun Immaculate Heart, 47-70, at the Bergen County Meet of Champions Nov. 1.
Pope John won the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference title on Saturday, and although Immaculate Heart and Red Bank Catholic were in the field, they did not bring their full strength teams.
The best: Holy Angels, Immaculate Heart, Pope John and Red Bank Catholic.
The rest: Bishop Ahr, Bishop Eustace, Camden Catholic, Gloucester Catholic, Holy Cross, Holy Spirit, Immaculata, Msgr. Donovan, Notre Dame, Paul VI, St. John Vianney.
The best: Anjelica Brinkofski, Bishop Ahr; Michelle Capozzi, Red Bank Catholic; Sarah Cariati, Pope John; Krissa Loretto, Msgr. Donovan, and Sarah Pagano, Immaculate Heart.
The rest: Pauline Dabrowski, Msgr. Donovan; Chelsea Delaney, St. John Vianney; Maddy Fischer, Notre Dame; Jenny Heigis, Pope John; Erin James, Immaculata; Suzana Markolovic, Holy Angels; Molly McNamara, Red Bank Catholic, and Erin Thompson, Immaculate Heart.
Pope John holds off Holy Angels to win its second state title in four years -- it won the Non-Public A title in 2005. Pagano, a senior, is the class of this field and will beat out Cariati to win in 18:35.
Non Public B
On Saturday, Ines Simoes learned a valuable race lesson.
Simoes, a sophomore at Roselle Catholic, had gotten used to racing alone and from the front while winning the individual titles at the Mountain Valley Conference and Union County meets last month at Warinanco Park's 3.19-mile dual meet course in Elizabeth.
But at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships on Warinanco's 3.25-mile championship course last Saturday, she was faced with a herd of talented runners. She ended up in fifth with a time of 20:08.71, 42 seconds slower than she had run there in September.
Simoes has her sights set on becoming Roselle Catholic's first Meet of Champions qualifier in four years. In fact, Simoes has a chance of winning and thereby becoming the first girl from her school to claim a group title.
Roselle Catholic coach Paul Irwin said she can do one or both of those things if she does not get intimidated by the lead pack.
"Saturday was the best thing that could have happened to her," Irwin said. "She was thrown off. She wasn't used to having girls around her. Does she have a chance to win? Absolutely. But she needs to remember that everybody in these races are good, so one move early in the race isn't going to shake the crowd."
The best: Mater Dei, Mount St. Mary, Our Lady of Mercy, Pingry and St. Rose.
The rest: Moorestown Friends, Mount St. Dominic, Roselle Catholic, St. Joseph (Hamm.), Villa Walsh, Wildwood Catholic,
The best: Ines Simoes, Roselle Catholic; Kristen Traub, Eastern Christian; Marie Walsh, Mater Dei, and Caroline Williams, Mount St. Mary.
The rest: Chrissy Casiello, Wildwood Catholic; Nicole Donahue, St. Rose; Annie Murphy, Oak Knoll; Ariel Quintana, Gill St. Bernard's; Liz Shaw, Mater Dei; Olivia Tarantino, Pingry; Melanie Wiechecki, Our Lady of Mercy, and Tara Wuko, Wildwood Catholic.
Simoes will hand Walsh a close loss while crossing in 18:50, and Mount St. Mary will hold off Pingry and the defending champion, St. Rose of Belmar, as the Watchung school wins its first title since capturing back-to-back Non-Public B titles in 2002-03.
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