New Jersey Weekly Roundup
Reviewing Week of Oct. 29 (State Meet preview coming)
By Ed Grant

The last weekend of action in New Jersey before the opening of the three-stage state championships was marked by perfect weather conditions which led to outstanding performances by the five teams---three girls, two boys---which will be the major contenders for the all-group title on Nov. 19.

Two of them met head-on in the girls’ race in the Shore Conference championships on Saturday at Holmdel County Park. Colts Neck turned in the third fastest team performance in course history as it averaged 19:22 in a 69-97 defeat of Jackson, led by junior Ashley Higginson, who ran third in 18:10 and freshman Briana Jackucewicz, who ran fourth in 18:40.

Jackson averaged 19:38 without the services of its No. 2 runner, senior Jen Clausen, who was resting a sore back but who is expected to return by Nov. 12 when the Jaguars will go against all-group defender Roxbury in the Gr. IV race at Holmdel. Roxbury took the Morris County title, 36-46, from Morris Knolls on Saturday at the Nabisco headquarters in East Hanover, averaging 19:48 on a course that is probably even more difficult than Holmdel.

The state’s top boys’ teams were also active in those meets, but had a much easier time of it. Christian Brothers won its 23rd Shore Conference title in 25 tries, 35-96, from Jackson, while Morris Hills went 2-3-4-5-6 behind a record performance by Ben Massam of Chatham in the Morris County meet to rout Roxbury, 20-119. CBA had the fastest average of the season at Holmdel, ninth fastest all-time, at 16:26, while Morris Hills posted a record 16:45 at Nabisco.

The two meets also produced the top individual efforts of the weekend. In the Shore girls’ race, all-group favorite Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean finished 35 yards ahead of Amanda Marino of Jackson in 17:52, the fastest time ever at Holmdel outside of the state meet and the third fastest all-time behind Janet Smith and Michelle Rowen. The race saw 21 girls beat 20:00, also a record for a non-state event.

In the boys’ race there, Craig Forys of Colts Neck finished five yards ahead of Own Boyle of Manasquan in 15:51 with soph Andrew Brodeur of Msgr. Donovan third in 16:03. Kevin Rogers led CBA in fourth at 16:07 with usual team leader Chris Horel sixth in 16:17.

Massam became the first to break 16:00 at Nabisco, breaking a record of 16:06 set 14 years ago by another Chatham runner, Brian Walsh, a record which had withstood challenges by Olympic steeplechaser Steve Slattery. whose best in four wins was 16:07 as a junior.

The weekend saw one sibling double victory and two near misses. The successful pair were Joe Ennis of West Windsor-Plainsboro South, who repeated as Mercer County champ on Friday at Veterans Park in Hamilton in 15:57, and Jenn Ennis of Roxbury, who reclaimed the Morris title she had won as a frosh in 18:56.

Also on Friday, Nicolai Naranjo of Montclair-Kimberley Academy took the Essex County boys’ title at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield in 15:33, while frosh sister Emily was second in the girls’ race to defender Alexis Weiner of Caldwell, who ran 18:34. Nicolai’s win was a bit of an upset as he defeated St. Benedict’s soph Brandon Jarrett, who had missed a week of training with a groin injury and who will be NJ’s only top runner not in the state meet. Bloomfield took the girls’ team title, Millburn the boys for the first time.

In the Bergen County Meet of Champions on Saturday at Darlington, Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park repeated as girls’ winner in 18:34, but twin Ryan was outkicked by Byron Williams of Ridgewood in the boys’ event in 15:43. Ridgewood swept the team titles again, but the boys got a scare from Don Bosco Prep, whose lineup includes the state’s top freshman Robert Molke, tenth in this race in 1 course class record of 16:15.

West Windsor-Plainsboro South also took both titles in Mercer, the boys going 1-3-4-5 for an easy victory, while the girls, led by frosh Katie Kellner in second place, topped Hopewell Valley, 43-52. Megan Fitzpatrick won the race in 18:12, only six seconds off the course record.

Matt Mitchell of Haddon Heights and Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield were the winners at the revived Colonial Conference meet on Thursday at Haddonfield. Mitchell finished 40 yards ahead of Jay Rodgers of Haddon twp in 15:46, while Wright had 80 yards on teammate Colleen Brogan in 18:22. These amounted to county champion races as both winners and runners-up had skipped that one.

Amanda Goetschius of Delsea continued her successful season with a 500-yard win in the Tri-County Conference the same day at Cumberland in 19:05. Ozzie Huerta of Kingsway won the boys’ event by 150 yards from Pat Collins of Highland in 15:58. Both team races were close, Clearview topping Kingsway, 65-71, in the girls’ race, Highland edging Kingsway, 40-41, for the boys’ crown.

The next day, one of the state’s seldom-seen runners, Theresa Cattuna of Cherry Hill East led her team to the Olympic Conference title at Gloucester County College, defeating Lisa Burkholder of Cherokee in 18;44, while Greg Bredeck led a 1-2-3 finish for Cherokee in 16:05, 25 yards ahead of teammate Alex Yersak.

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