Groff becomes first Cherry Hill East runner to win sectionals in 32 YEARS!!!!!!

He was third two years ago, he was second last year, and this time Aaron Groff wasn’t going to let anybody beat him.

Groff, Cherry Hill East’s senior, continued his terrific season Saturday by winning the South Jersey Group 4 race in 15:25, tied for ninth-fastest in course history over 5,000 flat meters at Delsea Regional.

As a sophomore, Groff finished 12 seconds behind Kingsway’s Noah Culbreath and about a second behind teammate Ben Dillon. Last year, he finished less than a second behind Culbreath. On Saturday, he left no doubt, finishing more than 10 seconds ahead of Jackson’s Ryan Rafferty.

Incredibly, Groff became Cherry Hill’s first individual sectional winner in 32 years, since Bill Stewart won the 1983 race. East’s only other individual winner was Bruce Miller in 1981.

Cherry Hill East beat a loaded field, outscoring Cherokee 54-82 to win its third straight team title. East becomes only the second school ever to win three straight South Jersey Group 4 titles. The other was Cherokee from 1997 through 2000.

Let’s take a look at the rest of Cherry Hill East’s scoring group:

10th – Isaiah Jean-Baptiste, 16:26
12th – Cole Parsons, 16:27
14th – Mark Meltzer, 16:31
17th – Tyler Parsons, 16:32

That’s two through five in a six-second span, which is incredible pack running. Especially in such a competitive race.

Groff moved into the No. 9 spot on the all-time course list:

  • 15:18 … Peter Hess [Toms River North], 2002
  • 15:22 … Greg Hughes [Mainland Reg.], 2003
  • 15:22 … Kyle Kroon, [Toms River South], 2012
  • 15:22 … Kyle Kroon, [Toms River South]. 2013
  • 15:22 … Keith Krieger [Cherokee], 2002
  • 15:24 … Chris Platt [Haddonfield], 2002
  • 15:24 … Jon Vitez [Haddonfield], 2009
  • 15:24 … Lou Corgliano [Hammonton], 2013
  • 15:25 … Joe Kotran [Toms River North], 2009
  • 15:25 … Aaron Groff [Cherry Hill East], 2015
  • 15:27 … Connor Herr [Shawnee], 2011
  • 15:30 … Jim Kavaliauskas, Highland Regional, 2003
  • 15:30 … Luke Petela [Haddon Twp.], 2014
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Aldridge, Gess blaze their way to sub-18 performances at sectionals!!!!!!!!

It had been four years since anybody broke 18 minutes at Delsea, and Saturday morning, Alyssa Aldridge and Briana Gess did it in the first two races of the day.

Gess, the 2013 Meet of Champions XC winner and a two-time Meet of Champions 1,600 winner, began the day by winning her third consecutive South Jersey Group 2 race in 17:57 and leading Haddonfield to its sixth consecutive team title and 10th in the last 11 years.

Then Aldridge, the Meet of Champs runner-up last year, followed in the Group 3 race by winning in 17:52. Mainland freshman Emily Dirkes finished fifth and Mainland qualified for states with a third-place finish.

The rest of Mainland’s scoring group deserves big props as well: junior Emily Forestar in 21st, junior Kelly Glenn in 27th and sophomore Gabby Boggs in 29th.

Haddonfield was typically dominating, placing its five scoring in the top 10 … but more impressively placing all seven runners in the top 13.

Supporting Gess were sophomore Lilly Minor in third and sophomore Izzy Miller in fifth — both under 20 minutes — along with junior Meg Schroeter in seventh, senior Bridget Poisel in 11th and junior Lauren Lynch in 13th.

During its streak of six straight team titles, Haddonfield has averaged 25.3 points per year. Going back to 2003, and including 2009, when the Bulldogs lost to Delsea by eight points, Haddonfield has averaged 24.0 points per year in the last 13 sectional meets.

Gess and Aldridge are the first girls to break 18 minutes at Delsea since 2011, when Megan Lacy of Cherokee did it.

Gess and Aldridge are the seventh and eighth runners to run sub-18 at Delsea since sectionals moved there from Williamstown in 2002.

  • 17:22 … Megan Venables [Highland], 2010
  • 17:22 … Chelsea Ley (Kingsway), 2008
  • 17:22* … Chelsea Ley (Kingsway), 2009
  • 17:32 … Chelsea Ley (Kingsway) , 2009
  • 17:35 … Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2010
  • 17:35* … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2008
  • 17:36 … Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2011
  • 17:42 … Megan Venables [Highland], 2009
  • 17:48* … Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2009
  • 17:51 … Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2009
  • 17:51 … Danielle Tauro [Southern Reg.], 2006
  • 17:52 … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg.], 2015
  • 17:55 … Brittany Sedberry [Ocean City], 2003
  • 17:56 … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway],  2007
  • 17:57 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield],  2015
  • 17:59 … Jill Smith [Southern Reg.], 2007
  • 18:00 … Devin Grisbaum [Ocean City], 2014
  • 18:00 … Niamh Hayes [Howell], 2015
  • 18:01 … Vanessa Wright [Haddonfield],2004
  • 18:04 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield],  2013
  • 18:04 …  Brittany Sedberry [Ocean City], 2005
  • 18:06 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield],  2014
  • 18:10 … Theresa Cattuna [Cherry Hill East], 2006
  • 18:10 … Arianna McKinny [Highland Reg.], 2004
  • 18:15 … Dina Iacone [Washington Twp,], 2011
  • 18:20 … Danielle Leavitt [Lacey Twp.],  2011
  • 18:21 … Bridget Flynn [Ocean City], 2013
  • 18:22 … Daniell Leavitt [Lacy Twp.],2012
  • 18:23 … Natalia Ocasio (Lenape),  2010
  • 18:22 … Danielle Tauro [Southern], 2005
  • 18:23* … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg.], 2014
  • 18:24 … Vickie Ajimoko [Williamstown], 2012
  • 18:24 … Marielle Hall [Haddonfield],  2007
  • 18:25 … Jill Smith [Southern Reg.],  2008
  • 18:26 … Maria Ruiz [Williamstown],
  • 18:29 … Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2008
  • 18:30 … Mara Schiffhauer [Seneca], 2012
  • 18:30 … Natalia Ocasio [Lenape], 2011
  • 18:30 … Arianna McKinney [Highland], 2003

Much more on the South Jersey sectionals coming up later this afternoon!!!!!!