South Jersey just keeps getting better and better at Foot Locker, and rivals Briana Gess and Alyssa Aldridge this weekend gave South Jersey two Foot Locker national qualifiers for only the third time in history.
And they did it in record-setting fashion.
Since the inception of the Foot Locker series — then known as Kinney Nationals when the program began in 1978 — South Jersey has had 14 girls qualify for nationals. And only three times have two S.J. girls qualified the same year. But all three of those instances have been since 2009.
More than half of South Jersey’s qualifiers have been in the last seven years and all but two since 2003.
Gess, the Haddonfield junior who earned All-America status two years ago at Foot Locker nationals, placed fifth in 17:44.2, and Aldridge, who won the Meet of Champions last weekend, was a few seconds back, sixth in 17:47.8.
Those times are among the fastest ever by New Jersey runners at Van Cortland. Full list is below.
Complete results of the race are here.
Gess becomes only the third girl in South Jersey history to qualify for Foot Locker nationals twice. Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City made it in 2002 and 2003, and Kingsway’s Chelsea Ley qualified three times — 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The only other times two South Jersey girls have advanced to nationals are 2009, when Ley was third and Haddonfield’s Marielle Hall was fifth, and 2010, when Megan Lacy of Cherokee and Megan Venables of Highland ran third and fourth.
After South Jersey was blanked in 22 of the meet’s first 24 years, South Jersey has now had at least one qualifier nine of the last 13 years.
Here’s a list of every S.J. girl that’s qualified for Foot Locker nationals [top eight through 2009, top 10 since]:
2nd, Michelle Rowan, 12, Washington Township, 17:28.7
2nd, Erin Donohue 10, Haddonfield, 18:07.8
2nd, Brittany Sedberry 10 [Ocean City], 18:16.4
10th, Brittany Sedberry 11 [Ocean City], 18:33
10th, Chelsea Ley, 10 [Kingsway], 18:33.1
5th, Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 18:08.3
3rd, Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 18:33.1
5th, Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 18:36.4
3rd, Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 18:08.0
4th, Megan Venables [Highland], 18:11.0
4th Holly Bischof [Bishop Eustace], 18:24.9
5th Briana Gess [Hadonfield], 17:43.2
5th Briana Gess [Hadonfield], 17:44.2
6th Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg,.], 17:47.8
Gess ran slightly faster at Vanny as a freshman. She owns the No.
5 New Jersey time ever at Van Cortland with her 17:43.2 from 2013. Aldridge moves right into the No. 6 spot in state history. Gess and Aldridge are No. 2 and No. 3 ever by South Jersey girls at Van Cortland, behind only legendary Michelle Rowen, who ran 17:28.7 back in 1982.
Here’s a look at the all-time New Jersey list at Vanny, with South Jersey girls in boldface:
- 17:08.1 … Janet Smith [J.P. Stevens], 1983
- 17:28.7 … Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 1982
- 17:42.3 … Christi Constantin [Kittatinny Reg.], 1988
- 17:43.2 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
- 17:47.8 … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Regional], 2015
- 17:52.0 … Ashley Higginson [Colts Neck], 2006
- 17:53.6 … Kate McCafferty [Voorhees], 2007
- 17:54.9 … Danielle Tauro [Southern Regional], 2005
- 17:55.4 … Jodie Bilotta [North Hunterdon], 1985
- 17:55.6 … Katie Trotter [Red Bank Regional], 2002
- 17:55.9 … Anne Marie Letko [North Hunterdon], 1985
- 18:00.4 … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2007
- 18:00.6 … Briana Jackucewicz [Colts Neck], 2005
- 18:02.8 … Theresa Gschwind [Summit], 1981
- 18:05.9 … Melanie Thompson [Voorhees], 2008