| Some hot individual performances featured last week's action in New Jersey, but the accent will be on team performances this week as Christian Brothers Academy's A team makes its first in-state appearance of the season at the mammoth Shore Coaches Invitational.
The Colts have run their top seven only once to date and that was in the DeLaSalle Invitational in California which they won handily two week ago. That effort has made them hot favorites to reclaim the all-group title seven weeks hence at Holmdel County Park, also the site of this weekend's action.
The state's No. 2 and 3 teams, Cherokee and Toms River North, will be absent this weekend, both competing in the Great American Invitational in North Carolina. The No. 4 team, Morris Hills, will run at Hoilmdel and should have little trouble picking up its third win of the season in the D race.
Most of the state's top girls' teams will also be at Great American: Morris Knolls, Jackson and Ocean City,.
Two of the three top boy runners will be in separate races at Holmdel. Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's will be in the F race, while rival Bryan Scotland of St. Benedict's faces a tough challenge in defense of his D title from Jayson Decker of Morris Hills, who finished a second behind him at the Passaic County Coaches meet last weekend. Sophomore Craig Forys of Colts Neck. who scored an impressive victory at his school's Cougar Invitational last Thursday, is another Great American enfry.
Forys' record run at the Cougar meet was the highlight of last week's individual action for boys in the state. It was more than matched, however, by the meeting of last year's two girl Footlocker finalists, Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City and Jen Clausen of Jackson at the new South Jersey Shootout at Gloucester College. Sedberry, the defending all-group champ, won that one by 35 yards in 18:31.
Cherokee had an easy team win in the boys' division of that meet, though it is still shorthanded with a couple of its seniors still on the injury list, including No. 3 runner Sean McLaughlin. The meet format was also new to the state: three races with one for each team's top two runners, another for its next two and a third for the final three, scoring based on the best five finishers. Cherokee went 2-3m in the first two and won the third to defeat Ocean City, 11-24. The top individual effort was a 16:08 by Anthony Kelhower of Lenape in the featured race with Tom Yersak and Greg Bredeck 2-3 for Cherokee, both under 16:20.
Despite Clausen's first loss of the season, Jackson also won comfortably, 10-24, from Ocean City and, in the process, became a strong contender for all-group honors this season. Clausen was followed over the line by soph teammate Amanda Marino, while Valerie Sidhoun and Ashley Avilleira went 1-2 in the No. 2 race.
Morris Knolls had an impressive win at the Passaic Coaches Invitational at Garret Mountain, West Paterson, defeating county rival Morris Knolls, 34-62. Lauren Gregory led the way, defeating Kim Standridge of Randolph and Lindsay Pierret of Morristown in 19:20. This sets up quite a race for the Morris individual title with defender Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes, who won the D race in 20:07.
The other team winners at this meet were Mount Olive in III, Kittatinny in II and two-time Parochial B winner Mt. St. Mary's, which finished 2-3-4 behind Hinds, in I.
Hopewell Valley had the top team and individual effort at the Stewart Memorial meet at Warinanco Park, Elizabeth, defeating Parochial A defender Red Bank Catholic in the B race, 46-67, wth Emily Sherrard winning the race in 19:46. Emily McMillan led St. Rose to the C title, finishing 100 yards ahead of Janine Davis of Queen of Peace in 20:07. Davis, a 2:07 800-meter runner who won four events in last spring's Parochial A meet at distances from 100 through 800 meters, ran a creditable 20:29.
Forys' win at the Cougar meet came at the expense of Chris Pisano of Toms River North, who had scored impressive wins five days earlier at a pair of class meets. Pisano, however, led the Mariners to a 27-36 win over East Brunswick as the two teams took six of the top ten places.
Phillipsburg headed the team action at the Stewart meet with a 59-88 defeat of Westfield in the A division. Hopewell Valley made it a perfect day by defeating Mercer County rival Notre Dame in B, 32-101, and Gr. I defender Bernards won in C, 49-67, from Parochial B favorite Roselle Catholic, whose Andrew Catalano had the top individual performance of the meet at 16:16. His rival for Union County honors, Jeff Perrella of Westfield, won the A race in 16:38.
Morris Hills had a very impressive team win in the B race at the Passaic Coaches meet, placing all five runners in the top 10 to swamp Wayne Valley, 26-97. Ridgewood won a close A race from Morristown, 44-49, in a preview of the North Jersey 1 Gr. IV race, as Geoff McGrane of Randolph took individual honors in 16:38. Chris Guerriero of Saddle Brook repeated in the D race over Kinnelon frosh Mike Soroko in 16:48, while Mike Crum led Hopatcong to a C win in 17:09.
Christian Brothers was also due to break the national dual-meet record in Thursday's race with Middletown North at the Lincroft campus, which would be its 266th in a row with no end in sight.