Clearview junior Anas Bensaoud, Triton soph Dennis Fortuna earn M-of-C wild-card berths!!!

Two of South Jersey’s fastest underclassmen, Clearview junior Anas Bensaoud and Triton sophomore Dennis Fortuna, are on their way to the Meet of Champions as wild-card entries into the boys race.

Bensaoud placed 12th in the Group 4 race at states in 16:31 over 5,000 hilly meters at Holmdel and Fortuna was 11th in the Group 3 race in 16:33. They were 34th- and 37th-fastest from all six races at Saturday’s various state meets and 8th- and 10th-fastest among South Jersey runners.

Bensaoud was 8th-fastest junior from all the state championship races and fastest from South Jersey, three seconds faster than Cherry Hill East’s Aidan Eyre.

This will be his second trip to the M-of-C. He placed 37th last year, when he was the No. 2 sophomore finisher.

This has been a very consistent season for Bensaoud, who was 3rd in the Gloucester County meet, won the Tri-County and was 5th at sectionals.

Fortuna was the 4th-fastest sophomore at states and the fastest from South Jersey. He’s the 4th-fastest Triton runner ever at Holmdel, behind Robert Rawls [16:15 in 2010], Rudy Belko [16:21 in 2005] and Matt Ruhl [16:24 in 1996].

Fortuna has come a long way over the past year. He didn’t break 18 minutes at sectionals last year but ran 16:09 on the same Delsea course this month before his huge race at states.

The Meet of Champions boys race is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Holmdel County Park.

 

Meet of Champions next for Cherokee’s Kate Rathman after continuing breakthrough season at states!!!

Cherokee senior Kate Rathman is on her way back to the Meet of Champions after a big Holmdel PR at the state Group 4 meet.

Rathman qualified for the Meet of Champions as a wild-card after placing seventh in the hot Group 4 state meet in 19:05. Her previous Holmdel PR was 19:20 at Shore Coaches.

That 19:05 was 12th-fastest among all six state races Saturday and second-fastest among South Jersey runners, behind only Egg Harbor senior Olivia Shafer.

It also makes her the third-fastest performer in Cherokee history at Holmdel, behind Megan Lacy, whose best at Holmdel County Park was 17:54, when she won the 2010 state Group 4 meet, and Lisa Burkholder, who ran 18:52 when she was 9th at the 2004 Meet of Champions.

This has been quite a breakthrough fall for Rathman, who won her races at the South Jersey Open, County Open and Olympic Conference championships and was second at sectionals before taking seventh at states.

Rathman placed 53rd at the 2017 Meet of Champions in 19:58 and was the 8th South Jersey runner across the line. Last year she was 74th in 20:21 and 10th South Jersey finisher.

Here’s a look at all the Cherokee girls over the years who’ve placed in the top-30 at the Meet of Champions:

2011
7. Megan Lacy, 18:29
2010
4. Megan Lacy, 18:12
2009
7. Megan Lacy, 18:47.84
2006
27. Alison Weeks, 19:21
38. Kristen Lewis, 19:35
2004
9. Lisa Burkholder, 18:53
29. Megan O’Leary, 19:35
2003
8. Lisa Burkholder, 19:23
2002
13. Malia Lyles, 19:48.23
39. Melissa Razo, 20:47.2

Rathman is a three-time indoor sectional champion and ran 5:02 and 11:03 on the track last spring. She’ll be the No. 2 returner in South Jersey this spring in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Rathman is planning to run for Delaware starting next fall.

Shawnee’s Kate Ruona on her way to Meet of Champions after big race at Group 4 states!!!

Kate Ruona continued her impressive freshman season at Shawnee with a big race at states, placing 8th in a loaded Group 4 race Saturday at Holmdel County Park.

Since her breakthrough race at the South Jersey Open — she placed 3rd in 19:15 at Delsea — Ruona has placed third in the County Open [18:58 at Mill Creek], 2nd in the Olympic Conference [18:32 at DREAM Park], 3rd at sectionals [18:14 at Delsea] and now 8th at states with a 64-second Holmdel PR. She ran 20:10 at Shore Coaches in her only other foray onto the Holmdel County Park hills.

Ruona posted the 13th-fastest time among everybody in the six state races and the 3rd-fastest time by.a South Jersey girl, behind only Egg Harbor senior Olivia Shafer (8th in 18:55) and district rival senior Kate Rathman of Cherokee (12th in 19:05). The only faster freshman was Reese Fahys of Middletown South, who won the Group 3 race in 18:49.

Grade information wasn’t included in Meet of Champions results until the late 1990s, so this list is likely incomplete, but over at least the last 23 years Ruona’s time is 6th-fastest by a South Jersey freshman at Holmdel.

17:45 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013 M-of-C
18:22 … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg.], 2014 M-of-C
18:28 … Grace Yoon [Cherry Hill East], 2016 NJ-4
18:39 … Casey Doyle [Shawnee], 2007 M-of-C
19:00 … Megan Venables [Highland], 2007 M-of-C
19:05 … Kate Ruona [Shawnee], 2019 NJ-4
19:12 … Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], 1997 M-of-C
19:17 … Natalia Ocasio [Lenape], 2009 M-of-C
19:20 … Alexandra Davis [Eastern], 2006 M-of-C
19:24 … Brittany Sedberry [Shawnee], 2002 M-of-C
19:25 … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2006 M-of-C

She’s 4th-fastest at Holmdel in the incredible history of Shawnee XC:

18:38 … Casey Doyle, 2007
18:59 … Kara Bonner [Shawnee,], 2015
19:02 … Julia Despirito, 2013
19:05 … Kate Ruona, 2019
19:13 … Isabella Turner, 2018
19:19 … Nikki Theimann, 1996
19:24 … Kim Bonner, 2003
19:28 … Liz Moore, 1992
19:28 … Karen O’Neill, 1993
19:28 … Nikki Theimann, 1996
19:28 … Jenna Darcy, 1999
19:30 … Michelle DiMuro, 1984

Ruona will be the only Shawnee runner at the Meet of Champions. The girls race is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday back at Holmdel.

Here’s a look at every Shawnee girl that’s ever finished in the top-25 at a Meet of Champions:

2018
16th – Isabella Turner, 19:13
2017
24th – Isabella Turner, 19:20
2013
6th – Julia DeSpirito, 19:02
2007
6th – Casey Doyle, 18:38 43
2003
9th – Kim Bonner, 19:24
15th – Robin McDowell, 19:33
2002
10th – Kim Bonner, 19:43.15
2001
25th – Kim Bonner, 19:58.3
1999
11th – Jenna Darcy, 19:49.9
17th – Dana Palumbo, 20:01.9
1997
17th – Taylor Van Acker, 19:59.7
20th – Jenna Darcy, 20:03.2
1996
10th – Nikki Theimann, 19:28
11th – Lisa Setter, 19:32
1994
13th – Liz Moore, 19:50
18th – Kari Vigerstol, 19:57
24th – Missy Whitaker, 20:14
1993
2th – Liz Moore, 19:29
4th – Karen O’Neil, 19:39
1992
5th – Liz Moore, 19:34
14th – Karen O’Neil, 20:14
1991
6th – Liz Moore, 19:46
1990
14th – Julie Goldstein, 20:19
1985
10th – Deanna Germano, 19:43
1983
24th – Michelle DiMuro, 19:45

Adler, Eyre, Rodriguez pace Cherry Hill East to huge race at states and M-of-C berth!!!!!

It was a terrific day at states Saturday for Cherry Hill East, which placed fourth in the state Group 4 meet but finished only one point out of second and posted one of the 20-fastest team times ever at Holmdel by a South Jersey school.

This is a very young Cherry Hill East team, with only one senior in the top five, and it’s off to the Meet of Champions to take one more crack at the Holmdel hills.

Led by senior Oliver Adler and juniors Aidan Eyre and Gabe Rodriguez, East posted the 6th-fastest average time of every school in all six state championship races.

East entered the state rankings this week but is still ranked too low at No. 9 in this week’s poll. East at states ran faster than three of the eight teams ranked above them and also finished ahead of all three in the merge.

In N.J. MileSplit’s meet merge, East placed sixth with 318 points, behind only CBA (83), Mendham (186.5), Haddonfield (242), Cherokee (252) and West Windsor-Plainsboro North (278).

Here are the 10-fastest team averages from Saturday at Holmdel County Park:

16:15 … CBA [1st Parochial A]
16:21 … Mendham [1st Group 3]
16:34 … Haddonfield [1st Group 2]
16:34 … Cherokee [1st Group 4]
16:40 … St. Peter’s Prep [2nd Parochial A]
16:41 … Cherry Hill East [4th Group 4]
16:42 … West Windsor-Plainsboro North [2nd Group 3]
16:44 … Ridge [2nd Group 3]
16:48 … North Hunterdon [3rd Group 4]
16:53 … Old Bridge [6th in Group 4]

Here’s the all-time South Jersey Holmdel team time list. Cherry Hill now has five of the top 20 times in S.J. history. In fact, four schools — Haddonfield [9], Cherry Hill East [5], Mainland Regional [4], Cherokee [4] and Kingsway [3] are responsible for 25 of the 26-fastest times ever run at Holmdel by South Jersey schools.

The only other school that’s averaged 16:45 or faster is Haddon Township, which averaged 16:41 at the 2014 Meet of Champions.

1:21.38 …….. Mainland Regional, 2003, Meet of Champions [1] 16:19
1:21:38.40 … Haddonfield, 2010, Meet of Champions [2] 16:19
1:21.47.8 ….. Haddonfield, 2001, Meet of Champions [1] 16:21
1:21.54.72 … Kingsway, 2017, Group 4 [1] 16:22
1:22.05 …….. Mainland Regional, 2003, Group 4 [1] 16:25
1:22.10.23 … Cherry Hill East, 2014, Group 4 [1] 16:26
1:22.31.39 … Haddonfield, 2018, Meet of Champions [2] 16:30
1:22.36.50 … Cherry Hill East, 2014, Meet of Champions 16:31
1:22.40.09 … Cherry Hill East, 2015, Group 4 [2] 16:32
1:22.47.31 … Haddonfield, 2019 Group 2 [1] 16:33
1:22.48.52 … Cherokee, 2019 Group 4 [1] 16:33
1:22.52.92 … Kingsway, 2014, Group 4 [2] 16:34
1:22.55.00 … Cherokee, 2019, Shore Coaches [3] 16:35
1:22.59.94 … Cherokee, 2000, Meet of Champions [2] 16:35
1:23.05.92 … Haddonfield, 2009, Group 2 [1] 16:37
1:23.07.58 … Haddonfield, 2009, Meet of Champions [4] 16:37
1:23.22.69 … Haddonfield, 2015, Meet of Champions [4] 16:40
1:23.23.75 … Cherry Hill East, 2018 Group 4 [4] 16:40
1:23:26 …….. Cherry Hill East, 2019 Group 4 16.41
1:23.26.98 … Mainland Regional, 2002, Group 3 [1] 16:41
1:23.29.78 … Haddon Twp., 2014, Meet of Champions [10] 16:41
1:23.30.28 … Haddonfield, 2014, Group 2 [1] 16:42
1:23.39.03 … Kingsway, 2014, Meet of Champions [4] 16:43
1:23.40.91 … Mainland Regional, 2002, Meet of Champions [1] 16:44
1:23.43.72 … Cherokee, 2004, Meet of Champions [5] 16:44
1:23.44.08 … Haddonfield, 2015, Group 2 [2]

Adler ran 16:01 for East at states and placed third behind only Southern’s Jackson Braddock and Cherokee’s Ethan Wechsler.

Eyre [14th in 16:34] and Rodriguez [20th in 16:40] gave East three in the top 20, and sophomores Dylan Hagan [52nd in 17:04] and Ethan Anderer [55th in 17:07] made it five across the line in a 66-second span, which is impressive when you have a front-runner like Adler.

For Eyre, the 16:34 was a 40-second Holmdel PR over his 17:14 that he ran to win the Shore Coaches JV race. So he’s gone from running JV in October to finishing 14th at states in November!

Rodriguez lowered his Holmdel from 16:56, Hagan from 17:21 and Anderer from 17:07 — all at Shore Coaches.

Junior Aidan Groff, East’s sixth man, also PR’d at 17:44, down 33 seconds from last year’s state meet. Senior Paul Bruce also raced for East.

This will be Cherry Hill East’s sixth trip to the Meet of Champions. The Cougars placed 8th in 1981, then had a 31-year gap before placing 9th in 2013. The 2014 team placed 3rd, the best in school history, and the next year they were 8th. Last year East was 12th.

East advanced to the Meet of Champions as the top wild-card team. The top two teams in each group qualified automatically and then the next eight-fastest also qualified.

Washington Twp.’s Maura Keane qualifies for Meet of Champions in first season of XC!!!

Maura Keane is off to her first Meet of Champions!

Keane, a junior at Washington Township, was the only South Jersey girl to earn a wild-card into this weekend’s XC Meet of Champions, and she’ll race the best in the state Saturday at Holmdel County Park.

That’s a remarkable accomplishment for any runner but in particular a middle-distance runner in her first year of cross country.

Keane played field hockey for the Minutemaids as a freshman and sophomore, but after a successful track season — she ran 2:18.87 last spring and was third in the Group 4 sectionals — Keane switched to cross country this fall.

She’s had quite a season, taking second in the Gloucester County Championships, seventh in the Olympic Conference meet and sixth in the South Jersey Group 4 race before running a strong 22nd at states Saturday with a 19:50 in her first try at the Holmdel County Park hills.

The 10-fastest girls who aren’t on a team that qualified either automatically (top-two finish in any of the six state meets) or as a wild card (next eight-fastest teams) qualified for the M-of-C as wild-card individuals.

The last Washington Township girl to race at Meet of Champs was Dina Iacone as a sophomore in 2009.

Allie Pierontoni leads Kingsway girls to 3rd place and M-of-C berth in loaded state Group 4 XC race with all-time #7 S.J. time at Holmdel!!!!!

Senior Allie Pierontoni and the Kingsway girls mixed it up with most of the top-ranked teams in the state and emerged with a strong third-place finish in the Group 4 state XC Championships Saturday and a wild-card berth into the Meet of Champions.

Kingsway averaged 19:57 on the 5,000-meter course at Holmdel County Park, 5th-fastest of all schools Saturday and 7th-fastest time ever recorded by a South Jersey school at Holmdel.

The Lady Dragons finished with 109 points, behind only New Jersey No. 3-ranked North Hunterdon (41) and No. 1-ranked Ridgewood (76) and ahead of No. 4-ranked Ridge (128).

Kingsway is ranked No. 9 in the most recent state poll. In all, Kingsway ran faster Saturday than four of the eight schools ranked ahead of them and beat another of those eight.

The top eight teams that didn’t finish first or second in any of the six state championship races advance as teams to Saturday’s Meet of Champions, and Ridge (19:54) and Kingsway (19:57) were the two-fastest.

Pierontoni ran a Holmdel PR 19:28 for 15th place and then the Dragons placed four runners — all underclassmen in a five-second span between 29th and 33rd. Pierontoni’s previous Holmdel PR was a 19:41 at the 2017 Meet of Champions

Sophomore Allison MacFarland, junior Ashlynne Burke, freshman Aubrey Pierontoni and junior Sydney Watts all ran between 20:02 and 20:07.

Here’s a look at all the sub-20 averages by South Jersey schools at Holmdel (let us know in the comments section if you see someone missing!):

19:35.42 … Haddonfield, 2013 [5th, M-of-C]
19:45.35 … Kingsway, 2017 [2nd, M-of-C]
19:49.67 … Shawnee, 2013 [7th, M-of-C]
19:53.83 … Haddonfield, 2005 [6th, M-of-C]
19:56.01 … Haddonfield, 2013 [2nd, Group 2]
19:56.20 … Cherry Hill East, 2006 [7th, M-of-C]
19:56.36 … Kingsway, 2019 [1st, Group 4]
19:57.01 … Haddonfield, 2005 [1st, Group 2]
19:57.40 … Seneca, 2013 [2nd, Group 3]
19:58.88 … Kingsway, 2016 [3rd, M-of-C]
19:59.1 ….. Moorestown, 2001 [1st, M-of-C]
19:59.70 … Cherokee, 2010 [6th, M-of-C]

Kingsway’s 19:57 average was fifth-fastest of all schools that raced Saturday, behind Group 4 winner North Hunterdon (19:07), Group 4 runner-up Ridgewood (19:36), Group 3 winner Middletown South (19:42) and Group 4 fourth-place finisher Ridge (19:54).

Kingsway was third at the Meet of Champions in 2016 and second in 2017.

Haddonfield, Cherokee, Cherry Hill East boys earn spots on all-time S.J. Holmdel team list!!!!!

Haddonfield and Cherokee both moved into the all-time South Jersey team list at Holmdel on Saturday with their winning performances at states.

Haddonfield and Cherokee both averaged 16:33 for their five scorers, which move them into the No. 10 and No. 11 all-time spots.

Haddonfield was actually slightly faster — 1.21 total seconds, or an average of about a quarter of a second per runner.

They were 3rd- and 4th-fastest Saturday at Holmdel, behind only Parochial A winner Christian Brothers Academy [16:15 average] and Group 3 winner Mendham [16:21]. Cherry Hill East [16:41 average] was next-fastest among South Jersey schools and that’s the Cougars’ fastest since 2014. It’s also No. 18 on the all-time S.J. list.

Great observation from Dave Stewart, who points out that Haddonfield’s 16:34 is fastest ever in Group 2, breaking the record of 16:35 set in 2015 by Voorhees.

Surprisingly, Cherokee’s 16:33 average is fastest in school history. The Chiefs averaged 16:35 twice — when they were second at the 2000 Meet of Champions and at this year’s Shore Coaches.

Obviously, the course runs much faster now than back then, so a 16:35 in 2000 would be considered a superior performance than a 16:35 now.

In any case, Haddonfield, Cherokee and Cherry Hill East along with Group 1 winner Haddon Township all get another crack at Holmdel — the roller-coasters, the Bowl, the tennis courts, the back woods and the final open straightaway — at the Meet of Champions Saturday.

Here’s the all-time South Jersey Holmdel team list. As always, corrections and additions are welcome. Just send me a note through the comments link.

1:21.38 …….. Mainland Regional, 2003, Meet of Champions [1] (16:19)
1:21:38.40 … Haddonfield, 2010, Meet of Champions [2] (16:19)
1:21.47.8 ….. Haddonfield, 2001, Meet of Champions [1] (16:21 )
1:21.54.72 … Kingsway, 2017, Group 4 [1] (16:22)
1:22.05 …….. Mainland Regional, 2003, Group 4 [1] (16:25)
1:22.10.23 … Cherry Hill East, 2014, Group 4 [1] (16:26)
1:22.31.39 … Haddonfield, 2018, Meet of Champions [2] (16:30)
1:22.36.50 … Cherry Hill East, 2014, Meet of Champions (16:31)
1:22.40.09 … Cherry Hill East, 2015, Group 4 [2] (16:32)
1:22.47.31 … Haddonfield, 2019 Group 2 [1] (16:33)
1:22.48.52 … Cherokee, 2019 Group 4 [1] (16:33)
1:22.52.92 … Kingsway, 2014, Group 4 [2] (16:34)
1:22.55.00 … Cherokee, 2019, Shore Coaches [3] (16:35)
1:22.59.94 … Cherokee, 2000, Meet of Champions [2] (16:35)
1:23.05.92 … Haddonfield, 2009, Group 2 [1] (16:37)
1:23.07.58 … Haddonfield, 2009, Meet of Champions [4] (16:37)
1:23.22.69 … Haddonfield, 2015, Meet of Champions [4] (16:40)
1:23.23.75 … Cherry Hill East, 2018 Group 4 [4] (16:40)
1:23.26.98 … Mainland Regional, 2002, Group 3 [1] (16:41)
1:23.29.78 … Haddon Twp., 2014, Meet of Champions [10] (16:41)
1:23.30.28 … Haddonfield, 2014, Group 2 [1] (16:42)
1:23.39.03 … Kingsway, 2014, Meet of Champions [4] (16:43)
1:23.40.91 … Mainland Regional, 2002, Meet of Champions [1] (16:44)
1:23.43.72 … Cherokee, 2004, Meet of Champions [5] (16:44)
1:23.44.08 … Haddonfield, 2015, Group 2 [2] (16:44)

Here are all the sub-17 averages from Saturday:

16:15 … Christian Brothers Academy
16:21 … Mendham
16:34 … Cherokee
16:34 … Haddonfield
16:40 … Cherry Hill East
16:40 … St. Peter’s Prep
16:42 … West Windsor-Plainsboro North
16:44 … Ridge
16:48 … North Hunterdon
16:53 … Old Bridge
16:57 … West Windsor-Plainsboro South