In barely over a decade, the Seneca girls have become one of NJ’s best XC programs

The program has existed for 12 years. The program has won six sectional titles.

This is the remarkable story of the Seneca girls cross county program, which has never not qualified for states.

Seneca on Saturday outscored Ocean City 47-54 for its sixth sectional title in the last nine years. Incredibly, this school that has had varsity sports for only 11 years has more South Jersey Group 3 XC titles than anybody but Ocean City and now has the ninth-most South Jersey sectional championships than all but eight schools — who have all been around decades longer than Seneca.

Here’s a look at the most titles in South Jersey history:

Haddonfield 23
Shawnee 16
Haddon Township 9
Brick Township 8
Ocean City 8
Moorestown 7
Pt. Pleasant Boro 7
Toms River North 7
Seneca 6
Pitman 6
Kingsway 6

And here is a look at Seneca’s year-by-year performance at sectionals:

2004- 5th in Group 2 – 22:25 [111 points]
2005- 3rd in Group 3 – 21:08 [135 points]
2006- 5th in Group 3 – 21:00 [114 points]
2007- 1st in Group 3 – 20:22 [92 points]
2008- 1st in Group 3 – 19:48 [54 points]
2009- 1st in Group 3 – 20:13 [53 points]
2010- 4th in Group 3 – 21:22 [118 points]
2011- 2nd in Group 3 – 20:23 [101 points]
2012- 1st in Group 3 – 19:26 [44 points]
2013- 2nd in Group 3 – 19:26 [45 points]
2014- 1st in Group 3 – 19:51 [51 points]
2015- 1st in Group 3 – 19:49 [47 points]

So the program has averaged 76 points per year at sectionals since its inception [despite never scoring in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s].

Jenn Denn started the Seneca program and won the first three sectional titles. Former Shawnee and Princeton runner Karen O’Neil took over in 2010 and has won the last three.

On Saturday, Seneca placed its five scorers from fourth to 14th, all within a 56-second span. Junior Kayla Martin [fourth in 19:18], sophomore Sydny Warner  [seventh in 19:40], senior Joey Webb [10th in 19:52], senior Lindsay Hoffman [12th in 20:02] and freshman Reilly Ritter [14th in 20:14] were supported by freshman Jessica Sprague [15th in 20:16].

The 19:18 is a 5,000 PR for Martin on any course. This was also a big race for Warner, who is coming off an injury, and Webb, who had her best day of the season.

Next for Seneca is the state Group 3 meet. With a top-three finish, the Golden Eagles would be off to the Meet of Champions for the fourth time in school history.

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