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Shore Coaches Invitational

The Hottest at Holmdel: Ley, Leung, Voorhees, Millburn

Holmdel Park, NJ - Saturday, October 6, 2007 - DyeStat onsite with Matt Soja, John Nepolitan

NEW: John Nepolitan's photos of the all the race winners
(B race winners Leung and Ley below)

Results from

Varsity Girls

Varsity Boys

Additional results

  • Chelsea Ley (Kingsway soph) runs 18:24 in the afternoon heat, #16 all-time in Holmdel Park history.
  • Brian Leung (West Windsor Plainsboro-South) posts the only sub-16 of the day, winning his race by more than a minute in 15:52.
  • NE #2 Voorhees girls win the C race easily, averaging 20:01, best of the day.
  • Christian Brothers Academy, NE #9, wins boys A race over Cherokee, averaging 17:14, but Millburn posts a surprising 17:03 average to take the C race.
Ley, Leung top harriers in the Holmdel heat
by Matt Soja

The overbearing motif of the 36th Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park was the scorching summer-like temperature. The late heat wave affecting the eastern half of the country did not cause the cancellation of the meet, like it partially did at Wickham Park in Connecticut, but it did cause more than a few cases of exhaustion and kept the on-site paramedics busy all afternoon.

Despite the adverse conditions and the absence of some top runners (including Brandon Jarrett) who were taking their SATs, there were a few impressive performances making their way into the history books. For many caffeine-addicted fans disgruntled about the dismantling of the only concession stand in the park, it was a partial reward for cheering the athletes in the Indian-summer sweltering heat.
 Brian Leung winning the B race by more than a minute in 15:52Chelsea Ley en route to #16 all-time mark in Holmdel history.
 Photos by John Nepolitan


Chelsea Ley, a sophomore from Kingsway Regional in South Jersey, was known to be a good distance prospect, having run 10:41.41 3200m last spring, almost breaking the state freshman record. But she had been laying low through the beginning of the season, so her 18:24 effort to win the B race by 43 seconds over favored Lauren Penney was quite astonishing given the circumstances. Ley pulled away from Penney in the second half of the race, hammering the last downhill mile and cruising in to the 16th best time in Holmdel Park history. It was also the second best sophomore mark ever on the course.

In her first major cross country race after two years of playing soccer, the state 800m queen Jill Smith of Southern Regional took the A race in 19:24 after battling Sophia Ginez from South Brunswick who fell and stayed down for a few minutes right after crossing the finish, one of the many victims of the weather this day.

Melanie Thompson of Voorhees did not disappoint, easily winning the C race in 19:02, well off her Holmdel best from last year. More importantly, however, she led her team, ranked #2 in the Northeast, to an easy victory 24-68 over the nearest challenger Moorestown. With three more girls (Colette Whitney, Kathy Petruzzellis, and Katrina Spratford) right around the 20-minute mark and fifth girl (Christine Curtis) at 20:44, they might have a realistic chance of defeating Colts Neck at the Meet of Champions, but they should not count their chickens yet – one only needs to remember 2003 when they were the huge favorites to take the state title but surprisingly lost to Shawnee.

What was supposed to be an interesting showdown in the D race resulted in a simply dominating performance by Monsignor Donovan, who until last week was in top 10 in the region. Mon Don crushed the #7 team in the Northeast, Red Bank Catholic, by a 37-94 margin, and that’s without having its best runner, Brianna Crowe! To be fair, RBC was also missing its top girl (Janine Louie), but the margin of victory is quite impressive, as is the team average of 20:23, only slightly worse than Voorhees’s. With Crowe back in the line-up, Mon Don might also have a lot to say in the battle for top NJ honors.

Also, Haddonfield girls had a breakout race in the E division, winning with 46 points and averaging 20:24. Their South Jersey rivals from Lenape used their depth to take the A (biggest schools) race by 50 points with a 20:37 average during the hottest part of the day.


Without Jarrett and Doug Smith, most cross country cognoscenti did not expect individual fireworks on the boys side, but there were a few pleasant surprises. Brian Leung of West Windsor Plainsboro South registered the only sub-16 of the day, winning the B race in 15:52 by an astonishing 68-second margin, essentially running a solo time trial. It was a 9-second improvement from his Holmdel PR. He might turn out to be Smith’s biggest challenger at Meet of Champions (Jarrett cannot compete because his school does not belong to the state association).

But the other school in his school district also had an ace up its sleeve. Freshman Joe Rosa of West Windsor Plainsboro North took the C race in 16:24, only a few seconds off Craig Forys’s freshman course record. The mark will probably fall this season under less exhausting weather conditions.

Besides Leung, the only harrier who came close to the 16-minute barrier was Somerville’s Dan Stiles who took the D race in 16:02.

In the most interesting team race, there was no surprise. Christian Brothers Academy, ranked #9 in the Northeast, took the A Division over Cherokee, winning 65-96. The defending Meet of Champions winners Jackson Memorial, ranked among the top teams in the region a month ago, were only a distant 4th, also losing to Old Bridge.

Despite the victory, CBA is probably not too ecstatic about its performance in the heat. Their 17:14 was only the fourth best average of the day, and despite a tight 27-seconds spread between first and fifth runner they would not have won a massive combined race against other top teams in the meet. One of their top-three runners ran about a minute slower than usual, probably due to the heat, costing them about 10 points. The Manhattan Invitational next weekend, presumably under much more seasonable weather, should provide more answers about the Colts’ true potential.

Millburn High School has been quietly moving up the state rankings, ending up third in the Star-Ledger’s last week poll. But yesterday they showed that their place is justified, winning the C race easily 48-75 over West Windsor Plainsboro North. Interestingly, Millburn registered the best team average of the day with 17:03, thanks to having four guys run between 16:31 and 16:57. But their regular fifth runner got hurt and did not factor in the scoring, resulting in the next scoring Millburn guy finishing in 18:12, far behind the top four. This huge gap would have cost them a lot more in a large race, so they must be hoping for his return to health.

Morris Hills, a regional bubble team, cleaned up in the D Division, winning by almost 100 points, 45-141 over Somerville. Their 17:06 average (with fifth runner in 17:40) proved that their Bowdoin performance was not a fluke, and they will be legitimate contenders for state titles. Could it be a repeat of the great CBA-MH rivalry from 2005?

But the biggest positive surprise of the day came early in the morning when Haddonfield took the E Division title with the lowest boys team score of the day (38), winning by more than 50 points. Their team average of 17:07 and a spread between 16:24 and 17:44 squarely put them in contention with the best in the state. In fact, Haddonfield would have won a merged scoring of all the teams in the meet by a few points ahead of CBA and MH, but we need to remember that the weather was much more favorable for the morning teams.

So it looks like the Meet of Champions title will be a free-for-all this year, with Don Bosco also in the mix. Stay tuned because it will only get hotter from now on!!

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