|New Jersey Report|
It's Group Championships Time
November 7, 2006
By Ed Grant
The seasonal debut of Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean proved to be worth the waiting as the country’s No. 1 schoolgirl miler easily defended her title last Saturday as the New Jersey state meet got under way, winning the South Jersey Gr. IV race by 100 yards from Theresa Cattuna of Cherry Hill East in a course record of 17:51 at Delsea High School.
Tauro had taken a long vacation from competition following her trip to China in August to represent the United State in the World Junior Championships. Her brief season will continue this weekend and next as she defends her Gr. IV and all-group championships at Holmdel County Park. (This week, Tauro announced she will attend Michigan next fall.)
Her chief competition in both races will obviously come from the Colts Neck pair of Briana Jackucewicz and Ashley Higginson. These two finished in a dead-heat at 18:10 in the Gr. IV race at Thompson Park, new site of the Central Jersey meet, with Higginson stepping back at the finish line to allow Jackucewicz, the defending champion, to cross the line first. They finished 60 yards ahead of Amanda Marino of Jackson.
The lead runners at the other two sectional sites were Lauren Penney, who led Roxbury to a third straight North Jersey 1 Gr. IV title in 18:38 at Garret Mountain, West Paterson, and Melanie Thompson of Voorhees, who took the Gr. III event in the North Jersey 2 meet at Warinanco Park in 18:28, fourth best time in course history. Later that same day at Warinanco, Lara Heigis of Pope John won the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference title in 18:38.
Thompson and Heigis will be heavy favorites in their group races this Saturday with the other four going at it in the Gr. IV event. Other favorites will be Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes, a two-time winner in Gr. I, who took the North Jersey 2 Gr. II race in 19:08 and Liz Campbell of Mt. St. Mary’s who finished 40 yards ahead of Parochial B defender Marie Walsh of Mater Dei in second place at 18:57 in the NJCTC race. Grroup I is very much up for grabs among three sectional winners: Kathy DeLeon of Palisades Park (NJ 1), Fiona Weeks of Metuchen (CJ) and Jessica Culp of Woodstown (SJ).
Colts Neck cemented its position as all-group team favorite with a 47-107 rout of Jackson in the CJ Gr. IV race. The team average, thanks to the efforts of Jackucewicz and Higginson, was 18:58 which, even granting course differences, rates well ahead of anything else recorded that day. Msgr. Donovan, the state’s No. 2 team, probably had the next best with its 19:49 as it defeated Red Bank Catholic and Pope John, 54-66-68, in the NJCTC meet. These three, plus Holy Angels (which rested last Saturday) will make the Parochial A race the most interesting of the day this weekend.
Voorhees emerged as a solid choice to succeed Colts Neck as Gr. III champion with its 53-69 defeat of Ridge in the NJ 2 Gr. III race. Hopewell Valley, which could have been a third force in this one, is missing its No. 1 runner, Megan Fitzpatrick (a victim on mono), but should nail the third all-group qualifying slot thanks to freshman Julie Jablonski whose second-place finish behind soph teammate Clare Buck as the difference in a 54-57 win over Princeton in Central Jersey.
Haddonfield seems a lock to defend its Gr. II title after its 21-56 defeat of Haddon Twp in South Jersey, led by frosh Marielle Hall who won by 70 yards over teammate Bria Altieri in 19:34. This young team is settling in for a long domination which might even wind up with an all-group title in 2008. Pingry, also idle last weekend, seems certain to pick up a third straight Parochial B title and Metuchen is just as solid a favorite in the depleted Gr. I event, which had only 30 team entries, a third of them in the NJ 1 race.
The best individual boys’ race of the day last weekend was the final one, the 50th annual NJCTC championships which saw Tom Poland of Delbarton hold off Brandon Jarrett of St. Benedict’s in a meet record 15:46. The two quickly opened a gap on the rest of the field with a 9:45 2M pace that brought Brian Guterl of Union Catholic also under 16:00 in third place.
This was also an historic team event as Pope John ended a 24-year reign by Christian Brothers, 52-81, as the No. 1 team, Don Bosco, held out its top five runners. The three will get together this weekend in the Parochial A race with Red Bank Catholic, fourth in the NJCTC event, hoping to pick up a wild-card slot. St. Benedict’s, which would be a cinch for the Parochial B title, is not an NJSIAA member, leaving it open to Roselle Catholic.
Craig Forys of Colts Neck coasted to a 25-yard win over Matt Ciambriello of Old Bridge in the Central Jersey Gr. IV race, setting a course record of 15:34 in the process. Ciambriello used his “home course” advantage to top Kris Carle for second in the deepest boys’ race of the day. Jackson easily defeated Old Bridge, 53-84, and seems a sure shot to win its first group title this Saturday. The other sectional individual winners were Dan Emont of Ridgewood in NJ 1, Christian Gonzalez of Franklin in NJ 2 and Alex Yersak of Cherokee in South Jersey,
There was a great individual race in Gr. III at Garret Mountain where Tony Salvatore of Wayne Valley came from well back on the final hill to nip defender Kyle Soloff of Morris Hills in 16:10. The team race was even closer as it required a sixth-man comparison to five Morris Hills its third straight title after it tied Northern Highlands at 79 points. Chris Southwick of Voorhees repeated at NJ 2 in 16:26, Sean McNulty of West Windsor-Plainsboro North won at Thompson Park in 16:21 an John Fennekohl of Ocean City at Delsea in 15:58, but they will probably be running for third behind the NJ 1 pair this weekend. The team race looks like a battle between NJ 2 winner Ridge and CJ champ Hopewell Valley, whose 2003 freshman stars Matt Hildebrandt, Nick Jourjine and Pat Jablonski---Julie’s older brother---led one of the day’s two boy-girl sweeps.
The other came in South Jersey where Haddonfield easily defeated Haddon Twp in the Gr. II race, 33-80 with a team that was led by seniors Matt Golia and Mike Burke, who finish 3-4, but also included three freshmen as its fifth, sixth and seventh finishers. Their performance outclassed the other winners: Tenafly in NJ 1, Chatham in NJ 2 and Matawan in CJ. The individual leader was NJ 2 champ James Grimes of Chatham, who would like to succeed former teammate Ben Massam as group winner.
Mike Soroko of Kinnelon, the favorite for the Gr. I title, not only took the NJ 1 race in 16:41, but also led the Colts to a 49-92 win over Pompton Lakes. But the team favorite here will be Pennsville, which ran away with the SJ title, 20-70, over New Egypt, led by Mark Kearney who took the gold in 16:53. It would be the first title for the Eagles.
1. Don Bosco 1. Colts Neck
2. Pope John 2. Msgr. Donovan
3. Jackson 3. Roxbury
4. Haddonfield 4. Holy Angels
5. Christian Brothers 5. Cherry Hill East
6. Old Bridge 6. Voorhees
7. Ridgewood 7. Red Bank Catholic
8. St. Benedict’s 8. Pope John
9. Hopewell Valley 9. Lenape
10. Colts Neck 10. Ridge