Ed Grant's Weekly Reports
The major question at the start of the 2005 cross-country season on New Jersey was
whether Briana Jackucewicz of Colts would recover from a year-long injury absence
as she tackled high school competition for the first time.
Jackucewicz may be the only girl (or boy) ever to hold a national “high school”
mark before entering the ninth grade. As a seventh-grader in 2004, she had broken
Kathy Schiro’s indoor 5K record at the National championships at New York’s 168th
St. Armory. But she had been on the shelf for the entire 2004-05 season with a series
of leg injuries, making her only major appearance at a 5-mile road race on Memorial
Day weekend where she ran under 29:00.
Her progress in New Jersey this fall has been slow but steady, culminating with a
third-place finish at the all-group championships on Nov. 19 at Holmdel County Park,
setting a frosh course record at 18:20. But she took another step forward last Saturday
when she qualified for the Footlocker Nationals with a seventh-place finish in 18:00 at
Van Cortlandt Park.
Briana was one of three Garden State runners to earn the trip to San Diego for the
Dec. 10 race at Balboa Park. All-group champion Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean
Regional finished 5th in the girls’ race in 17:55, while Jeff Perrella of Westfield, third in
the boys’ all-group race, was seventh in 15:37.
Tauro and Jackucewicz wisely did not get involved in the battle for the gold medal,
which, like last year, was a private affair between two-time defender Nicole Blood of
Saratoga and 2004 national champ Aislinn Ryan of Warwick Valley, which saw Blood
score an unprecedented their victory by 45 yards in 17:41. Once again, New York athletes
dominated the race, though not to the extent of last year when they took the first eight places.
All four Saratoga girls qualified again with Caitlin Lane---who, like Blood, abstained
from high school competition this fall---placing third just ahead of former teammate Lindsey
Ferguson. Between Tauro and Jackucewicz was Liz Costello of Wayne, Pa., with New
Yorkers, including Hannah Davidson of Saratoga, taking the last three qualifying slots.
New Jersey was second in the state team race with six in the first 26. The only
change in their order from the all-group meet was Jackucewicz placing ahead of Amanda
Marino of Jackson, who finished 15th. Two of the top eight were missing---Kris Stevens of
Roxbury resting for this weekend’s national team race in Oregon and Vanessa Wright of
Haddonfield taking some time off to allow a gym class injury to heal. A seventh girl did
beat 19:00, but that was in the freshman race where Marie Walsh of Mater Dei won in 18:53.
It was not as good a day fore the New Jersey boys The 1-2 finishers in the all-group
meet, Craig Forys of Colts Neck and Ben Massam of Chatham didn’t come close to the top
10. Forys fell back early, going into the hills at the mile mark in 50th or more place. Massam
had a good position at that time, in the top 20, but fell back to 23rd at the finish in his 10th
major race of the season. The CBA and Morris Hills boys were all absent, awaiting their trip
to Oregon this weekend. But the “team” still managed a third-place finish behind New York
and Pennsaylvania, thanks to a sweep of the positions from 27th to 30th, by Owen Boyle of
Manasquan, Forys, Matt Mitchell of Haddon Heights and soph Andrew Brodeur of Brick.
Brodeur’s absence from the class race prevented a sweep of those events by New
Jersey runners. As it is, they came very close with Brodeur’s long-term Ocean County rival,
Ray Coles of Msgr. Donovan, placing second to Maximilian Kaulbach of Germantown Friends.
Robert Molke of Don Bosco took the frosh race in 17:00, Chris Southwick of Voorhees the
junior event in 16:22 and Brian Toms of Triton the senior in 16:54.
An interesting sidelight to Morris Hills’ trip to Oregon as a wild-card selection is that
their coach for the weekend will be former Knight mentor Jack O’Leary, who is now at Msgr.
Donovan. The Morris Hills authorities will not allow current coach Sean Robinson to make
the trip. O’Leary---who was coached in high school at Essex Catholic by Fred Dwyer and
in college by the legendary Jumbo Elliott---was Morris Hills mentor when the four seniors
on the present team were freshmen.
How well the New Jersey teams will do on the race track-style course in Oregon is
a question, of course. The general opinion in the Northeast is that this meet should be
lternated between the West and East Coasts with Van Cortlandt being the obvious choice
for the Eastern site. It is, after all, where the sport began in this country.
The lines are pretty well drawn now for the 34th annual New Jersey all-group cross-country
championships which go off at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Holmdel County Park.
The boys’ race is, as it has been all season, a two-team affair with defending Christian
Brothers going after its 15th title against Morris Hills. Both teams won easily at the group
championships last Saturday at Holmdel with CBA posting a 16:27 average in its 21st Parochial
A victory even though lead runner Chris Horel was content to follow the pace set by Brian Guterl
of Union Catholic, matching his performance a week earlier at the time-comparable 3.2M
Warinanco Park course in Elizabeth.
This was five seconds slower than Kyle Soloff of Morris Hills ran in placing second to Craig
Forys of Colts Neck in the Gr. III race, but it is unlikely that this “finish” will be duplicated on
Saturday when Horel is expected to challenge Forys, Gr. II champ Ben Massam of Chatham and
Gr. IV winner Jeff Perrella of Westfield for individual honors. Horel has hopes of a double national
appearance in December, a sure bet for the team race in Eugene and a somewhat longer shot at
the Footlocker finals a week earlier in San Diego.
The team race is likely to be decided by the fourth and fifth finishers for each school. The
first three for each---Horel, Kevin Rogers and Greg Leach for CBA and Soloff, Jayson Decker and
Brandon Rodkewitz for Morris Hills---should battle up front to a near standoff. The Colts had an
advantage in both the rear positions last Saturday, a big one in fifth as the Knights’ usual closer,
Ryan Uhrynowich, had a bad say and sixth-man Adam Wasser had to fill in with a 17:28, 40
seconds slower than his CBA counterpart.
Massam had the fastest time of the four individual contenders, picking up his eighth win of
the season with a 125-yard margin over Owen Boyle of Manasquan in 15:44. Forys finished 40
yards ahead of Soloff in 15:54 and Perrella had a close win over surprising Matt Ciambriello of
Old Bridge in 15:57. The others winners were Ryan VanAlstine of Midland Park in Gr. I at 16:19
and Chris Scavone of Pingry in Parochial B in 16:29.
CBA, Morris Hills and Pingry all won with comfortable margins. The other races were much
closer, with each going to a first-time champion: Phillipsburg by 10 points over Hillsboro in Gr. IV,
Spotswood by 24 over Hopatcong in Gr. II and Keansburg by four over Maple Shade in Gr. I.
Roxbury now looks like a clear favorite to repeat in the girls’ race. The much-underrated
Gaels came within three seconds of the total team record as it won by 42 points over constant
rival Morris Knolls in Gr. IV (It was the seventh open meeting of the season between the Morris
County rivals; Roxbury has won the last five since soph Ashley Cromartie returned in mid-season.)
Jenn Ennis led the victory as she placed third in 18:35, followed immediately by Kris Stevens in
18:46. Soph Lauren Penney ran 8th in 19:19 and Cromartie and Sarah Tencza were 12-13 in 19:44
and 19:52. It all added up to a 19:16 average.
Colts Neck, which had the best previous average at the course this season with a 19:22 at
the Shore Conference meet, was well behind this as it won Gr. III with a 19:44 average, the time
being mostly due to another 1-2 finish from Briana Jackucewicz and junior Ashley Higginson in
18:21 and 18:54. Roxbury’s quintet will likely finish between these two and the other Cougar
unners this week and Ennis could even split the first two.
Jackson, which had figured to be a third party earlier in the season, barely made the all-group
race as a “wild card,” finishing fourth in Gr. IV. Senior Jen Clausen, the team leader the past three
years, did not run and freshman Devin Solvik had an off day, placing 27th in 20:16, 50 seconds
behind her best at Holmdel this season. The third-best performance last Saturday came from Pope
John in Parochial A, led by Lara Heigis who ran 18:41.
The other team winners, all by wide margins, were Haddonfield in Gr. II (where Vanessa Wright
won her fourth title in 18:29), Mt. Lakes in Gr. I (with Abby Hinds scoring in 19:06) and Pingry
repeating in Parochial B (where Mater Dei frosh launched her bid for a four-year sweep in 19:42.
The big individual race of the day was, of course, in Gr. IV where the two seasonal leaders went
at it again with the usual result, Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean finishing 60 yards ahead of Amanda
Marino of Jackson in the day’s best time of 18:05. They are the obvious favorites to finish 1-2 again
this Saturday with Ennis, Heigis, Wright and the two Colts Neck runners following in some order.
The major disappointment of the day went to the VanAlstine twins, who were hoping to score
an unprecedented double (as they have been doing in other meets all season). Ryan did his part,
but sister Amy, who had won Gr. I the last two years, suffered a minor leg injury while running with
Hinds in “the Bowl” and gamely limped in second, tears in her eyes, some 250 yards to the rear.
There were two items of family interest in local road races the day after the group meet.
Andrew Hanko of Trinity Christian, one of Jackucewicz’ 30-plus first cousins, who was mysteriously
missing through the season, won a 5K race in 16:06, indicating he may be someone to contend
with at the Footlocker Trials. And Kathy Castles, mother of the 10th-place finisher in the Gr. I girls
race, won the top women’s prize at the Giralda Farms race on a hilly 5K course in Madison in 17:46.
All-group defenders Christian Brothers and Roxbury head the field as the New Jersey state
cross-country championships enter their second phase this Saturday with a dozen group
championship races at Holmdel County Park, starting at 10 a.m.
CBA was not involved in last weekend’s sectional championships, but showed it was
more than ready for the expected challenge from Morris Hills when it won its 24th consecutive
New Jersey Catholic Track Conference championship at Warinanco Park, Elizabeth, averaging
16:34 on the 3.2M course. Roxbury’s girls ran away with the North Jersey 1 Gr. IV title at
Garret Mountain with a record average of 19:17.
Morris Hills pitched a near shutout at Garret in the boys’ Gr. II race, going 1-2-3-4 with
a 16:16 average on a course which rates 15-20 seconds faster than Warinanco and Holmdel.
And the Colts Neck girls had a 19:51 mark in a Gr. III win at Holmdel even with leaders Briana
Jackucewicz and Ashley Higgins coasting to a virtual deadheat in 18:56.
Jackson, which figured to be a third party in the girls’ race, pretty much dropped out
of contention when senior Jen Clausen packed in her season due to a sore back. The Jaguars
still won the Gr. IV race there (for the first time), but will have to wait ‘til next year when their
top three, who averaged 19:20, return. But, then, Colts Neck gets its entire team back.
The girls’ Gr. IV race had figured to be No. 1 on the schedule this weekend with three
of the state’s top teams in the field: Roxbury, Jackson and Morris Knolls, which finished second
to Roxbury for the third week in a row. This trio should easily qualify for the all-group meet and
two more may make it as well as wild cards from a very crowded field.
Colts Neck looks an easy winner in Gr. III with South Jersey champ Moorestown and
North Jersey 2 winner Ridge the best bets for the other all-group slots. Ocean City is a dark
horse as it will probably have a health Brittany Sedberry in its lineup. After battling a strep
throat last week, the two-time all-group champion dropped out of the sectional race at the
The Gr. II and I races will be walkaways for Haddonfield and Mt.Lakes, respectively.
Haddonfield won easily in South Jersey without No. 2 runner Colleen Brogan who will be
back this week. Mt. Lakes was almost two-minutes a girl faster than its nearest rival last
weekend as it walked off with the North Jersey 1 race. Four teams are in the running for
the other Gr. II positions in the all-group race, led by Central Jersey winner Summit, while
all three Gr. I spots could go to NJ 1 teams, Palisades Park and Midland Park figuring to
finish 2-3 again behind Mt. Lakes.
There were, as noted, no Parochial sectionals last weekend but the NJCTC race
and the South Jersey Parochial invitational which followed the sectional races at Delsea
provided action for most of the entries, not, however, for Pingry which could sweep the
B races. Pope John won the NJCTC girls crown and should lead Red Bank Catholic and
Msgr. Donovan into the all-group field. In the B races, Roselle Catholic and Wildwood
Catholic are probably boys’ qualifiers with Mater Dei, Bishop Eustace and Eastern
Christian looking best among the girls.
The top individual race of the day will rematch Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean
and Amanda Marino of Jackson in Gr. IV. The current odd sectional geography separated
these Ocean County neighbors last weekend and both won handily, Tauro in 18:22 at
Delsea and Marino in 18:38 at Holmdel. The Colt Neck girls will challenge defending
Sedberry in G. III, Vanessa Wright should join two legendary New Jersey runners, Janet
Smith and Erin Donohue, as a four-time winner in the Gr. II race and Gr. I will likely see
a repeat of the North Jersey 1 race with Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park hoping to repeat
over Abby Hinds of Mt. Lakes, the 2003 winner. The Parochial favorites are Lara Heigis of
Pope John in A and freshman Marie Walsh of Mater Dei in B.
The Gr. IV boys’ team battle could be very close with NJ 1 winner Ridgewood, NJ 2
champ Phillipsburg and CJ titlist Hillsboro all having a good shot at the gold. Depth will
probably decide the issue and Phillipsburg had the tightest pack last weekend, just 68
seconds between its first and fifth man. Five teams have a shot at the wild card slots,
but may get competition from Gr. II and PA clubs.
Morris Hills is, of course, a shoo-in in Gr. III with winners Ridge from NJ 2 and
Moorestown from SJ heading half a dozen teams which have all-group ambitions either
directly in a 2-3 finish or via the wild card route. Gr. II is wide open among the four sectional
winners: Hopatcong, Bernards, Spotswood and Haddonfield and Central Jersey Keansburg
has “home court” advantage in Gr. I over SJ winner Maple Shade and NJ 1 winner Kinnelon.
CBA and Paul VI were the winners of Saturday races, but the Colts’ main competition
this weekend will be Pope John, second in the NJCTC race, and Don Bosco, which took
the weekend off. Neither figures to halt CBA’s current 10-year winning streak. Pingry, as
noted, figures to double in PB, with Roselle Catholic and Wildwood Catholic likely to join
it in the AG race.
Craig Forys of Colts Neck, in Gr. III, and Ben Massam of Chatham, in II, should be
runaway winners in the individual competition. The other races look more competitive with
a real barn burner in IV among defender Brian Dennis of Hillsboro; the boys who beat him
in CJ, soph Andrew Brodeur of Brick Memorial and NJ 2 champ Jeff Perrella of Westfield.
In Gr. I, Ryan VanAlstine of Midland Park, the NJ 1 winner, goes against James Bulnicky
of Maple Shade, hoping to complete a unique “twin double.” Chris Horel is favored to repeat
in PA after his 16:07 win last Saturday in the NJCTC race with his main rival perhaps being
teammate Kevin Rogers. The PB race will be a rubber match between Chris Scavone of
Pingry and Nicolai Naranjo of Montclair-Kimberley who split their previous meetings at the
Shore Coaches meet (Scavone) and the New Jersey Prep B (Naranjo). Unfortunately,
Brandon Jarrett of St. Benedict’s, the Prep A champ and Shore Coaches winner in another
race, is not eligible
for this one.
The three-stage New Jersey cross-country championships open this weekend with 32 races
at four sites, the top five teams and first 10 individuals in each to qualify for the group
championships on Nov. 12 at Holmdel County Park.
While the sectionals are limited to the four public school groups, most of the Parochial
(non-public, to be precise), will also be in action, the 49th annual New Jersey Catholic Track
Conference championships following the North Jersey 2 sectionals at Warinanco Park,
Elizabeth, and the smaller South Jersey Parochial meet doing the same at the South Jersey
sectional site, Delsea High School.
Technically, the state championship season began on Wednesday with the New Jersey
Independent School Athletic Association championships at Blair Academy. Pingry scored an
unusual double there, winning the girls’ A race and the boys’ B division. (The presence of
some large boys-only schools is responsible for this anomaly.)
Two of these schools dominated the boys; A race with St. Benedict’s Prep defeating
Seton Hall, 23-47, led by soph Brandon Jarrett who scored his fourth win of the season in
16:26. This was four seconds faster than Nicolai Naranjo of Montclair Kimberley in the B race
and served as a kind of payback for Brandon’s loss to Nicolai in the Essex County meet five
The Pingry girls, favored to win the Parochial B meet in the NJSIAA meet, scored a 34-53
win over Peddie in defending their title, while Stuart County Day School topped Ranney School,
44-55 for the B crown. Rachel Provost of Peddie won the A race by 100 yards from Emily Naranjo,
Nicolai’s freshman sister, in 19:40, while Jess Foran of Rutgers Prep took the B race in 20:58.
Both had finished second last year.
The top sites this weekend will be Garret Mountain, West Paterson, for the North Jersey 1
races and Holmdel County Park, the state championship course, for the Central Jersey octet. At
Garret, the defending all-group girls team, Roxbury, will have its fifth meeting with Morris Knolls in
the Gr. IV race, while Morris Hills, No. 2 in the boys’ rankings, will shoot for a rare perfect score in
the Gr. III event. At Holmdel, two of the state’s top girls’ teams, Jackson and Colts Neck, will
compete in Gr. IV and III, respectively, as will several of the state’s top individual stars, including
Amanda Marino of Jackson and the Colts Neck trio of Craig Forys, Ashley Higginson and Briana
Forys’ main rival for the boys’ all-group crown, Ben Massam of Chatham, will got after his
seventh major victory of the campaign in the Gr. II race at Warinanco Park. He has already set
records at Lincoln Park, Jersey City; Freedom Park, Randolph, and, last Saturday, at the
difficult Nabisco course in East Hanover.
Now for a quick look at each of the sectional sites:
As already noted, Morris Hills is a cinch to repeat as Gr. III winner here and junior
Kyle Soloff is the most likely individual winner in what could be the toughest qualifying ticket in
the state. Ridgewood should have no trouble taking its fourth straight Gr. IV title (14th all told)
with Byron Williams probably adding the individual title as well. Hopatcong is also favored to
repeat in Gr. II, but Mike Crum may have a tough time defending his individual title against
Bryan Kretschmer of Ramsey. Becton is a major threat to defending Kinnelon in Gr. I, with
Ryan VanAlstine of Midland Park a strong favorite to match twin Amy’s individual win.
Westfield and Phillipsburg should have another donnybrook here in Gr. IV, with the Blue
Devils’ Jeff Perrella, defending champ, almost certain to complete his Warinanco “hat trick,”
having already run away with county and conference honors there. Cranford has been restored
to this section after winning Central Jersey Gr. II last year, setting up a solid Gr. III race with
Millburn’s Essex County champs, Ridge, Holmdel and Morristown and also providing a close
individual race between its junior star Joe McKenney and Skylands champ Chris Southwick
of Voorhees. The Gr. I race is probably the weakest in the state with no team favorite.
Tauqueen Qazi of McNair Academic and solo runner Matt Turlip of Dunellen top the individual
Old Bridge has dominated Gr. IV here, winning five of the last six titles, But does not
have the depth this year to combat co-favorites Hillsboro, East Brunswick, West
Windsor-Plainsboro South and Jackson, all of whom took county titles this fall. Brian Dennis
of Hillsboro is back to defend his title, but faces a severe challenge from Brick Memorial soph
Andrew Brodeur, who finished third in the tough Shore Conference race here last Saturday,
running 16:03. Forys will have no trouble defending his Gr. III title, but Colts Neck does not
have the depth to defend its team title, with Ocean Twp, led by Greg Kremlet, the most likely
successor. Summit, a newcomer here, heads a depleted Gr. II field with Owen Boyle of
Manasquan a clear favorite after breaking 16:00 at the Shore Conference meet. Keansburg
will have no trouble taking a third straight Gr. I title, but its defender, Andrew Carusuotto,
will get plenty of competition from soph Shane Hart of Pt, Pleasant Beach.
Defending Toms River North and Cherokee head the Gr. IV field with Greg Bredeck of
the Chiefs the individual favorite. Ocean City’s young team should repeat over Highland in III
with county champs Matt Cowhey of the Raiders, Pat Collins of the Tartans and Ozzie
Huerta of Kingsway battling for the gold. Haddonfield will probably repeat in Gr. II with its
sixth title in eight years, with a hot individual battle among its junior star, Mike Burke,
Matt Mitchell of Haddon Heights and Jay Rodgers of Haddon Twp. Maple Shade looks
like a repeater in Gr. I with Jim Bulnicky leading the way as individual winner.
Rosbuty and Morris Knolls are now even on the season at 2-2, but the Gaels have
won the last two after the return of Ashley Cromartie and should take the lead this weekend.
Jenn Ennis has been at top form in recent races and should take her first sectional crown
since her freshman year at Warinanco. Paramus could get its first sectional title in Gr. II,
led by Jess Setless and the Hannon twins. Ramsey is a solid choice in Gr. II, led by Stacey
Bond and Jennifer Bain, who could go 1-2 individually. Gr. I will be a repeat of last year, an
easy team win for Mountain Lakes, the probable group champion, and a more difficult individual
triumph for Amy VanAlstine over 2003 champ Abby Hinds of the Lakers.
Westfield’s bid for a third straight title faces a real hurdle here in Bridgewater which
could put three runners before the first Blue Devil, certainly two in Rachel Mangean and
Kris Cupido, who should go 1-2 in either order. Gr. III has three of the state’s best in
defending Voorhees, with frosh Melanie Thompson and soph Katrina Spratford; Cranford
with last year’s CJ Gr. II winner, Laura Gallo, and Ridge with Nicole Traynor. Gallo is also
seeking a Warinanco triple here and has “home court” advantage, but Thompson has been
running up a storm recently with a near-record win at the Skyland meet last Thursday.
Gr. II looks like a repeat for Chatham and Caldwell’s Essex County champ, Alexis Weiner,
while Gr. I is even more puzzling than the boys’ race now that the past two winners,
Palisades Park and Verona are in NJ 1. McNair may get an individual double with Quiauna
Jackson will have no trouble repeating in Gr. IV, but three-time sectional winner Jen
Clausen (one in SJ), who skipped the Shore Conference meet with a sore back, is likely
to be replaced by her junior teammate, Amands Marino. Colts Neck will win Gr. III easily
with its aces, defending Ashley Higginson and frosh Briana Jackucewicz probably trotting
over the line together. It will be Union County (neighbors Summit and New Providence) vs.
Monmouth (defender Rumson and Shore) in Gr. II with Samantha Lee of the Hilltoppers,
Katie Zaeh of Berkeley Heights and Kelly Cattano and Stephanie Fonseca of New
Providence leading the individual fray. With New Providence “promoted” to Gr. II, Metuchen
is about all there is left in Gr. I and the recent absence of two-time SJ I winner, Lindsey
Ritchings of Pt. Pleasant Beach, leaves the individual title up for grabs,
Cherry Hill East could take its first sectional title in Gr. IV here, led by Theresa
Cattuna, who led the Cougars to the Olympic Conference title last Friday. Danielle Tauro,
undefeated in the state this fall, should, however, top Cattuna in defense of her individual
title. With two-time all-group champ Brittany Sedberry back in form, Ocean City should
make it three in a row in Gr.III over a strong challenge from Moorestown with Brittany
trying to complete a four-year sweep over a strong challenge from Amanda Goetschius
of Delsea.. Vanessa Wright hopes to do the same in Gr. II as Haddonfield pick up its
13th sectional crown. Maple Shade heads the Gr. I field with Lindsey Lampe of Pennsville,
Salem County champ, the individual favorite.
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 45 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
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
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.
he 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.
A showdown between New Jersey’s top two boys’ cross-country teams had a shadow cast
on it this week when Justin Wheat, the No. 4 runner on the Christian Brothers, was injured
in a bizarre incident on the Colts’ campus in Lincroft.
The CBA team was going through a training session while the school’s soccer team was
playing Manalapan, a rival in the North A Division of the Shore Conference. One of the
Manalapan fans twice made contact with CBA athletes, the first with some junior varsity
runners and the second with Wheat, As a result, he will miss the Manhattan Invitational on
Saturday, but could return for the Brown Invitational a week later.
This comes a week after Morris Hills had out-timed the Colts in separate races at the
massive Shore Coaches Invitational on the state championship course at Holmdel County
Park. Both won their races handily, but Morris Hills had a 16:30 average while the Colts
This weekend’s meeting will be the first of only two scheduled this season.
Morris Hills and CBA are in the C race along with last year’s National runner-up,
Fayetteville-Manlius, which has four of its top five returning. The only other Morris
Hills-CBA pairing will come in the
final all-group championship.
Wheat had a disappointing race last Saturday, running some 30 seconds behind his
Holmdel best at 17:23 and was not one of CBA’s top five, falling victim to a too-fast early
pace. But his presence in the top four is crucial to any hopes CBA has to match Morris
Hills this weekend.
The Knights had an almost perfect race last weekend with its top trio of Brandon
Rodkewitz, Jayson Decker and Kyle Soloff all running under 16:15 in the D race, times
which usually translate to sub-13:00 at Van Cortlandt. CBA had Chris Horel win the A
race in 16:07, while Kevin Rogers and Greg Leach ran 5-6 in 16:31 and 16:34.
Also to be watched eagerly by NJ fans this weekend will be the individual performances
of the state’s top boy harriers, Ben Massam of Chatham, who won the E race at Holmdel
in a meet record 15:35, and Craig Forys of Colts Neck who took the Paul Short
Invitational at Lehigh’s Saucon Valley course in 15:14. They will, unfortunately, be in
separate races, so will no meet directly this fall until the all-group meet. Both are solid
There will also be a summit meeting for the state’s top girls’ teams as Jackson, winner
of the A race and time prize at Holmdel, and Colts Neck, a close second to Bay Shore
at the Lehigh meet, are both in the Eastern Championship race. Jackson averaged 19:55
at Holmdel last week, Colts Neck hit 19:06 at the faster Saucon Valley course.
Two of the state’s top three runners will be in that race, Amana Marino for Jackson and
freshman Briana Jackucewicz for Colts Neck. Marino was beaten at Holmdel by Danielle
Tauro of Southern Ocean, who will be at the South Jersey Open this weekend at Delsea.
Marino ran 18:47 at Holmdel last Saturday, Jackucewicz was second to National champ
Aislinn Ryan of Warwick Valley at Saucon Valley in 17:45, which is roughly equal to
Tauro’s 19:30 in her Holmdel win.
Two new stars emerged at the Shore meet, Amanda Goetscius of Delsea, wwho
won the girls’ C race in 18:44 and soph Brandon Jarrett of St. Benedict’s who took the
boys’D event from Owen Boyle of Manasquan and the Morris Hills boys in 16:00 in his
first appearance at Holmdel---his only one this season since the Gray Bees will not be
in the state meet.
Two 2004 state champions were missing at Holmdel, Brittany Sedberry of Ocean
City and Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield. Both are nursing injuries with their return to
ction indefinite. Haddonfield still won the E title and also provided the individual champ
in Colleen Brogan with three frosh and a soph filling out the lineup.
No charges were filed after the incident at CBA, but it certainly poses a situation
which is worth investigation by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
There has been far too much “trash talk”: in the state these last few years aimed at the
non-public schools, some of it aimed at allegedly aggressive recruiting practices in sports
like basketball and football, but a lot more at the “unfair advantage” schools without legally
defined enrollment borders have over their public counterparts.
This attitude has found its worst expression in the barring of certaiu schools
from competitions otherwise open to anyone within a prescribed geographical area----in
the case of the Penn Relays, to anyone at all. Now, it would seem that it has found its
expression in a physical attack so it is time the matter was put on the front burner.
With only one notable exception, New Jersey cross-country teams will gather at the
state championship course at Holmdel County Park this Saturday for the annual
preview of the group and all-group meets which will be held there on, respectively,
Nov. 12 and 19.
The exception is Colts Neck, which will be in action at the Paul Short
Invitational at Lehigh University with its two individual stars, Craig Forys and Briana
Jackucewicz, who won handily last weekend at their own Cougar Invitational.
There are 198 boys’ teams and 187 girls’ squads entered in six varsity races
apiece at Holmdel and this includes all the major challengers for all-group honors in November.
Heading the boys’ list is Christian Brothers Academy, which will be running it’s a team for
the first time this fall in the A race. Topping the girls are Jackson in the A race and AG
defender Roxbury and Morris Knolls in the B in their second of at least seven duels this
Individually, the boys will be led by defending Gr. IV champ Brian Dennis of
Hillsboro and Parochial A defender Chris Horel of CBA in the A race, while the girls are
topped by AG defender Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City in the B race, Gr. II defender
Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield in the D race and this fall’s leader Amanda Marino---who
finished 8th at the Great American race last weekend and has two wins under her belt this
fall---in the A event.
While CBA has not used its top six in two previous starts this fall, the performance
of its B team at last weekend’s Stewart Memorial at Warinanco Park gives a clue of what to
expected this time. The Colts finished a close 3rd in the A race there to Phillipsburg and Don
Bosco Prep, led by junior Chris Lombardi who ran 10th in 17:06 to probably nail down a
starting berth this weekend. CBA;s team average of 17:29 was the fourth fastest of the day.
This meet, the oldest invitational in the state, saw Jeff Perrella of Westfield win the A
race by 70 yards from Dale Taylor of North Hunterdon in 16:19, Adam Lampell of Holmdel
outkick Chris Southwick of Voorhees to rake the B race in 16:22 and Nicolai Naranjo of
Motclair Kimberley fight off stitch pains to win C in 17:20. Holmdel took B team honors,
while Roselle Catholic---the former meet sponsor—scored in C.
Forys coasted to a 70-yard win over Brick Memorial soph Andrew Broduer in the A
race at the Cougar Invitational in 15:56 as East Brunswick defeated South Brunswick, 41-85.
Alex Cuetsa led Manchester Twp to the B title in 16:44.
The weekend action started on Friday night with the nocturnal Randolph Invitational.
The state’s No. 2 boys’ team, Morris Hills, coasted to victory in the A race, placing five in
the top eight in the A race behind Alex Bean of visiting Somers (NY) who set a record for
the newly realigned course in 15:42. Junior Kyle Soloff ran second in 15:49 to lead the
Knights, who will have a runaway in the D race this Saturday. The B event went to Matawan
with Owen Boyle of Manasquan an easy winner in 16:06.
Pope John, a favorite in the E race at Holmdel, had a 1-2 finish from Anthony LaMastro
and Justin Scheid as it won easily at the Xavier Invitational on Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park,
LaMastro clocking 12:59. Anthony is part of a strong individual entry in Saturday’s E race
where he will face Ben Massam of Chatham a two-time winner this fall and two South Jersey
stars, Matt Mitchell of Haddon Heights and Mike Burke of Haddonfield. Mitchell won the
seeded race at the South Jersey Shootout last Saturday in 16:06.
Also part of this race will be St. Benedict’s soph Brandon Jarrett who led his team to
its third win of the season in the Gr. III race at the Passaic County Coaches meet at Garret
Mountain in 16:20. A convert from soccer. Jarrett has won twice this fall, his only loss being
to Massam at the opening St. Dominic’s Invitational.
The other team winners there were Clifton in Gr. IV. Hopatcong in II and Keansburg in I.
Mike Crum led Hopatcong in 1 16:43 win, atoning for last year when he was late to the starting
line and joined the race en route, winning but later being disqualified.
The New Jersey presence in the boys’ race at Great American was very light with Ryan
VanAlstine of Midland Park turning in the fastest time in third place in the Red consolation
race in 16:12. Matt Cowhey of Ocean City ran 14th in the seeded invitational in 16:22 with
Todd Weston of Toms River North 23rd in 16:36.
Roxbury and Morris Knolls had their first meeting of the season at the Passaic CC meet.
To give an idea of how close this rivalry will be, the first four finishers for each team totaled 28
points. But the Gaels are still without soph Ashley Cromartie so the Golden Eagles won hanily,
28-53, with the two Laurens, Gregory and Berard, going 1-2 in 19:29 and 19:30 ahead of Kris
Stevens of Roxbury. Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes had the fastest time in winning the Gr. I
race in 19:14, the Lakers also taking team honors. Aimee Chegwidden of Wallkill Valley took
the Gr. II race in 19:57 from Meggie Sullivan of Tenafly and Christina Valerio of West Milford
won II in 19:56.
New Yorkers swept individual honors at the Randolph meet, Virginia Connor lead a 1-2-3-4
Bronxville finish in the B race in 18:42 and Mary Alice Howard making it a sweep for Somers in
the A event in 18:55. Ridge, which has the unenviable task of facing Roxbury and Morris Knolls
on Saturday, scored an easy win over visiting Cherokee in that one.
Jackson finished a distant third to Saratoga in the championship race at Great American
with Jen Clausen---still subpar after a summer bout with tendonitis---backing up Marino with a
47th-place finish in 19:43. Molly Kempton of Msgr. Donovan, a favorite in the D race Saturday,
was 23rd in 19:03 and Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park right behind her in 24th. Two-time
all-group champ Sedberry placed 3rd in the seeded invitational race in 19:10 with teammate
Renee Tomlin 18th in 19:46, just ahead of Kellee Hand of Howell which finished 5th in that event.
The Pope John girls went 1-2-3 in the Xavier meet, Lara Heigis winning in 15:05. They ran
without Lauren Bariexca, who will also be missing in the E race on Saturday, and Jenny Heigis,
who won the frosh event in 10:00, but who will join her sister this weekend. In another New York
meet, Ramsey placed second at the Red Raider Invitational with Stacey Bond and Jean Bain
going 1-2 in 20:43 and 20:59.
At the South Jersey shootout, Lindsay Bertulis of Millville won the seeded race by 50
yards from Ali Hehn of Toms River North, which won a close team race from Moorestown.
The 2005 cross-country season got into high gear last weekend in New Jersey
even though there
were some missing players, notably the top-rated Christian Brothers team which
sent only its “shock
troops” to the Magee Memorial class meet at Warinanco Park, and two-time
all-group champion Brittany
Sedberry of Ocean City and her teammate, Renee Tomlin, who is making her debut
in the sport this season.
And perhaps the most significant action of the fall to date had come a few days
earlier when Briana
Jackuciewicz of Colts Neck ran 18:47 in a dual meet on the state championship course
at Holmdel County
Park. She finished well ahead of teammate Ashley Higginson who finished second in
last spring’s all-group
3200-meter run, apparently answering all questions about her condition after a series
of injuries which had
sidelined her throughout the 2004-05 campaign.
Another missing figure from the early action was Colts Neck junior Craig Forys,
runner-up in the boys’
all-group race last fall, with a slight hip injury. However, he plans to run this weekend
in his school’s own
invitational at Buck Mill Park and at the Paul Short Invitational a week later at Lehigh
and Higginson will also be in action that day against Footlocker defender, Aislinn Ryan
of New York’s Warwick
The star of boys’ action to date has been Ben Massam of Chatham who won
the St. Dominic Academy
Invitational on Sept. 10 with a course record of 16:25 at Lincoln Park, Jersey City,
and then came back last
Saturday to take the senior race at the Magee Memorial in 15:53, seventh-fastest time
ever on the well-traveled
Warinanco Park course in Elizabeth. For the girls, it has been Amanda Marino of Jackson,
who won at Lincoln
Park in 19:15 and took the junior race at Warinanco Park in 19:09, and two-time
all-group 1600-meter champ
Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean, who won the junior race last Saturday at the
Cherokee Challenge over a
3200-meter course in 11:25---a time bettered there only by Erin Donohue.
Morris Hills, which finished second in the all-group meet last year, opened its
season at the Regis Invitational
last Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park and won handily over Msgr. Farrell, 36-85, with
junior Kyle Soloff leading the
way with a meet record of 12:53. The Knights took four of the first seven places with
an average of 13:09; one
regular, Ryan Uhrynowich, was missing.
A young St. Benedict’s team has picked up two wins in a row, taking the St.
Dominic meet from Bridgewater,
36-72, and then defeating Blair, 27-62, at the Newark Academy meet last weekend.
Sophomore Brandon Jarrett,
in his first cross-country season, was second to Massam at Lincoln Park and won
by 250 yards from teammate
Marcus Taboas at Newark Academy in 15:46.
Roxbury’s girls, who took the all-group championship last fall and qualified for
the national meet, got off to a
shaky start at their own class meet last weekend. Soph Ashley Cromartie was held
out because of a slight injury
and team leader Jenn Ennis dropped out of the junior-senior race after two miles.
(Blair Sullivan of Mendham won
that one over Kris Stevens of Roxbury in 18:30). But it got a boost when sophomore
Lauren Penney won in 19:30
to insure that the Gaels will have an adequate, if not quite duplicate, replacement
for graduated Ali Caruana.
Morris Knolls indicated it will give Roxbury a run for its money in what will be
five straight weekends of
championship competition later this season when it dominated the Lancer Invitational
on Sep. 10 in Livingston.
Running without Lauren Gregory---who returned to action in the Iron Hills Conference
“batch” meets a few days
later---Knolls put four runners ahead of defending Essex County champ Alexis Weiner
of Caldwell, Lauren Berard
leading the way in 19:55. Juniors Christine Cox and Kerry Ann Binns and senior
Amy Moratz are showing great
improvement over their 2004 form.
Two other teams which figure in the all-group race are off to good starts. Jackson
won at Lincoln Park with
frosh Devin Solvik filling in for Jen Clausen, who was resting after a summer bout with
tendonitis, and had the
best five-girl showing at the Magee Memorial even though Clausen was beaten badly
by Lindsey Pierret of Morristown in the senior race. Pope John defeated Warwick Valley at the latter’s Purple Wave
Invitational Sept. 10, 35-42, led
by Lara Heigis who finished a distant second to the invincible Ryan in 18:24. The
Lions will be augmented next month
by Lauren Bariexca, who is sitting out her 30-day penalty after transferring from West
The VanAlstine twins of Midland Park turned in a unique double at the Sept. 16
Season Opener at Darlington.
Amy repeated in the girls’ B race in 18:57 and Ryan took the boys’ event in 16:21.
(Older sister Lindsey holds the
girls’ meet and course record at 17:38). The A boys’ winner was Ben Diestel of
Northern Highlands, grandson of
legendary master’s runner Toshiko D’Elia, in 16:24.
Even without Sedberry and Tomlin, as well as Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield,
the senior girls race at the
Cherokee Challenge was one of the bets last weekend with Emily Sherrard of Hopewell
Valley leading home Coleen
Brogan of Haddonfield and Lisa Burkholder of Cherokee in 12:02.
The sophomore girls race provided the highlight of the other class meet at the
Battle of Monmouth with Jamel
Paker of Freehold Twp defeated Amanda Herrmann of Montgomery and Lindsay
Lambert of Howell in 19:20. (All
three were first-team all state frosh last year.) For comparison’s sake, Herrmann’s
senior teammate Eleonora
Spinazzi took her race in 20:20.
This weekend’s action is headed by the state’s oldest invitational, the Stewart
Memorial at Lincoln Park.
CBA will probably hold out its top seven again, but will still be a contender in the
boys’ A race. Morris Hills will
be in action the night before at the Randolph Invitational, which had to delay its
action by two weeks because
of the installation of an all-weather football/soccer field at Freedom Park, as will
the Roxbury girls.