New Jersey Weekly Roundup
Reviewing Week of Oct. 8; Previewing Week of Oct. 15
By Ed Grant

The rains came.

That is the only way to describe what happened to the Northeast cross-country season this past week, beginning with the massive Manhattan Invitational on Oct. 8 and continuing with only slight interruptions with no end in sight.

Runners were slowed last Saturday at Van Cortlandt, but, like the proverbial postman, did not let the adverse conditions prevent them from completing their scheduled course in the 30 or so races that comprise this largest of all scholastic invitation affairs. Thanks to the gravel path laid down several years ago, times were remarkably good, led by the 14:04 in the girls' Easter championships by Aislinn Ryan of New York's Warwick Valley.

A number of New Jersey athletes also turned in sterling efforts. The Colts Neck duo of Ashley Higginson and Briana Jackucewicz both were under 15:00 in the title race, Ashley running fifth in 14:48 and Briana sixth in 14:51. Three NJ boys went under 12:50, Chris Horel of Christian Brothers running third in the featured C race in 12:40, Craig Forys of Colts Neck placing second in the B race in 12:47 and Ben Massam of Chatham picking up his fourth win of the season in the C race at 12:48.

The C race matched the state's top two teams, Morris Hills and Christian Brothers, with New York's Fayetteville-Manlius, which had pitched a shutout in this meet a year ago. It was a lot closer this time with the New York team winning with 36 points to 64 for CBA and 72 for Morris Hills. And it could have been even tighter than that but for two factors: CBA had to run without its usual No. 4 finisher, Justin Wheat, while one of the usually tightly-packed Morris Hills quintet, Ryan Uhrynowich, fell back so far that he was the sixth finisher for his school.

Wheat's absence requires some explanation. Earlier in the week, during a training run on the Colts' campus in Lincrost, he (and other) CBA runners were attacked by a soccer fan from a nearby public school who was evidently upset that his team was suffering its first loss of the season. This massive lad, part of a group known as "The Hooligans," first ran into some CBA JV runners and then repeated this assault when the varsity came by, causing a chain reaction that left Wheat with an injury which will
sideline him for at least two upcoming meets, one of them this weekend's Brown Invitational.

Fortunately, the Colts are very deep this year and actually placed six runners ahead of Morris Hills' fifth finisher. Horel was backed up by Kevin Rogers in eighth place in 12:59 and Greg Leach (who was also involved in the earlier collision) in 11th at 13:09. The team average was 13:11, second best of the day, while Morris Hills averaged 13:13.

Colts Neck finished sixth in the Eastern girls race with 212 points, decisively defeating Jackson which had led all the teams a week
earlier at the Shore Coaches Invitational. (Colts Neck was at the Paul Short meet that day, placing second). The state's other top teams, Roxbury, Morris Knolls and Pope John, took the day off.

New Jersey's only team winner in the 14 varsity races was Ridge which took the girls' A race from Hunterdon Central, 61-83, led by Nicole Traynor who finished second in 15:59.

Other top individual efforts included a 10th-place finish for Amanda Marino of Jackson in the Eastern race at 15:06 and a fifth-place for St. Benedict's soph Brandon Jarrett in the boys' G race at 13:04.

The other major meet last weekend was the South Jersey Open at Delsea High School whose entry was curtailed by the weather. The big news was the return to action of Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield, who had missed the Shore Conference meet. She led a 1-2-3-4 sweep for her team in the C race and finished 300 yards ahead of teammate Colleen Brogan---a winner at Holmdel---in 18:56. Amanda Goetschius of Delsea, another Holmdel winner, took the B race in 19:29.

Moorestown repeated its boy-girl double from the Shore meet in the B division, while Haddonfield swept C honors, Mike Burke taking the boys' event in 16:38. Ocean City was the boys' A winner, while Cherokee took the girls race behind an untimed victory for Lisa Burkholder (The timing system failed in both A races and no one thought of having a backup stopwatch.)

Missing from the meet were two-time all-group champ Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City, stilled on the shelf with injuries, her teammate Renee Tomlin (visiting Georgetown, her likely college choice) and Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean, the top runner at the Shore Coaches meet.

Several teams made the long trip to the Disney Classic in Florida and it paid off big for Toms River North which won both 4A races there. Todd Weston led the boys in third place in 16:45 and Pam Petruski headed the girls in fifth at 19:20. Theresa Cattuna of Cherry Hill East was second in the girls event at 18:57.

The Brett Taylor Invitational at Darlington was so affected by the weather, plus competition from upcoming league meets that both girls' events were team walkovers. Only about 100 runners showed up for the four races.

Somehow, the weather let up enough for league meets to be held on Monday and Tuesday. The most notable result came on Monday when twins Ryan and Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park had their second double of the season, both winning by wide margins. They hope to repeat this rather unique feat in their next start at the Bergen County Gr. I meet and go on to do the same in
the state meet on sectional and group levels.

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