RV’s Belko helps Stockton women win first-ever conference XC title!!!

Rancocas Valley graduate Alicia Belko placed third overall and helped the Stockton University women’s cross country team win its first conference title in school history.

Stockton packed its five scorers in the span of 74 seconds, had four of the top seven finishers and outscored second-place The College of New Jersey 29-45.

Cassandra Hrusko from Manchester Township High School and Belko placed second and third for the Ospreys in 22:18 and 22:21 over the 6,000-meter course in Galloway Township.

They are the first runners in Stockton history to finish better than fourth in the conference meet.

This is the first time since women’s XC became an official NJAC sports in 1981 that a school other than Rowan or The College of New Jersey won the women’s XC title.

Also in Stockton’s top five were Regina Duncan from North Warren High (sixth in 23:02), Christina Welsh of Hamilton West (seventh in 23:09) and Juliana Garruto of Monmouth Regional (11th in 23:32).


TCNJ sophomore Natalie Cooper of Moorestown won the conference individual title in 21:35, finishing a whopping 200 meters ahead of the field.

Other South Jersey products in the top 10 were Emma Bean of TCNJ and Mainland Regional (eighth in 23:16) and Delran grad Maddie Tattory of TCNJ (ninth in 23:23).

Next for Stockton is the NCAA Division 3 Atlantic Regionals at Rowan University in Glassboro on Nov. 12.


RV grad Curbello continues terrific freshman year with 2nd at conference XC meet

Bloomfield College freshman Isaiah Curbelo, a spring graduate of Rancocas Valley, continued his terrific freshman year over the weekend with a second-place finish in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Cross Country Championship at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia.

Curbelo covered the 8,000-meter course in 27:21, finishing second only to Wilmington senior Ken Fontal, who ran 27:00. Curbelo finished more than a minute ahead of the second freshman.



Curbelo ran 1:53.57 for 800 meters last year for R.V., when he was third in the Meet of Champions. He was a three-time Burlington County Open 800 champ and in XC was a Liberty Division champ and top-10 finisher at sectionals as a senior.

Bloomfield, located in Essex County, finished second in the CACC meet to Wilmington by just two points, 43-45.

“I’m proud of Isaiah and his work ethic which has carried him this far into the season,” Bloomfield coach Elson Smajlaj said on the school’s web site. “He has emerged as one of the strong runners on the team.”

Curbelo has already been named CACC Rookie of the Week twice and CACC Runner of the Week once.

Next for Bloomfield is the NCAA Division 2 East Regional a week from Saturday at Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Hopkinton, N.H.

Cherokee boys roar to second straight Olympic Conference XC championship

Cherokee, the top-ranked team in South Jersey, had three of the top four finishers and stormed to a 37-point win at the Olympic Conference XC championships on Rowan’s 5,000-meter championship course (not the course used for batch meets).

Sennior Jack Shea won his first conference title, crossing the line in 15:44, 60 meters ahead of Cherry Hill West senior Robert Abrams.

Senior Nick Falk and junior Justin Kelly both ran 16:02, Falk edging Kelly for second. Junior Brandon Marks ran 16:26for eighth, giving Cherokee four in the top 10, and rapidly improving freshman Chase Miller finished 17th.

This is the first time in at least 14 years at the Olympic Conference meet — and probably the first time ever — that one school has had three runners at 16:02 or faster in the same race.

Scoring Cherokee against the field, the field wins by just four points — 33-29.

Cherokee won last year on a sixth-runner tiebreaker with Cherry Hill East. The Chiefs’ 33-point winning score is second-lowest at this meet in the last nine years. Cherry Hill East scored 32 to win the 2014 meet.

It’s Cherokee’s lowest winning score since the 2007 team scored 30 to beat Cherry Hill West 30-72.

This is the first time Cherokee has won back-to-back Olympic Conference titles since 2008 and 2009.

Shea is Cherokee’s first conference XC champ since Shawn Wilson in 2012.

Others in the top 10 were Cherry Hill East senior Tyler Parsons, fifth in 16:05; Shawnee senior Mark Miller, sixth in 16:17; Bishop Eustace junior Nick Hutchison, seventh in 16:23; Cherry Hill East senior Josh Dillon, ninth in 16:32; and Lenape’s Kevin Lauer, who was the top sophomore overall, 10th in 16:39.


Young Highland wins crazy four-way team battle in Camden County Championships

With three freshmen and no seniors in the lineup, Highland came out on top in a wild four-way team battle at the Camden County XC Championships at Timber Creek Park in Gloucester Township.

The top four schools all finished within 19 points of each other, and Highland edged second-place Haddon Heights 76-78, with Camden Catholic third at 88 and Sterling fourth with 93 points.

After three runners, Highland was third, behind Heights and Sterling, and after four runners one point separated Highland (48), Camden Catholic (48) and Heights (49), with Sterling (56) not far behind.

So this one definitely came down to the fifth runners, and Highland’s fifth runner, sophomore Nuruddin Wise, crossed one spot and 78/100ths of a second before Heights’ fifth runner, junior Colin Duffy. It was that close (although Highland would have won a sixth-runner tie at 77-all).

Highland’s lead group included sophomore Ben Woodward in second [17:07] and junior Michael Fillipo in fourth [17:29] in the top five, backed up by freshmen Jeremiah Clark [18:32] and Chris Corsair [18:33] in 20th and 22nd and Wise [18:45] in 28th.

Also running for Highland were freshman Yarayah Hawkins [30th in 18:53] and sophomore Mike Minchak [47th in 19:29].

With Clark, Corsair and Hawkins, Highland had the first three freshmen across the line.

Haddon Heights countered with three in the top 10 — seniors Matthew Krogstad [17:53] and Eric Rosenheim [18:01] and sophomore Brian Alexander [18:15] in sixth, eighth and 10th — and then sophomore Kevin Sankey [18:41] and Duffey [18:45] in 25th and 29th.

Camden Catholic was led by sophomores Richard Castaneda, Matt Coffey and Ray Derman in fifth, 13th and 14th. Sterling senior Jimmy Macpherson was third, junior teammate Cajan Ejianreh ninth and sophomore Manas Gupta 12th.

Senior Robert Abrams of Cherry Hill West was the overall winner, finishing 12 meters ahead of Woodard.

Also in the top 10 was Timber Creek senior Andrew Quigley [7th in 17:54].

Penn’s Aaron Groff 16th in Princeton Invite, leads Quakers to 3rd place

Aaron Groff enjoyed his best day yet as a Penn Quaker Saturday, placing 16th out of 226 runners in the Princeton Invitational. Groff, who ran 9:07 for 3,200 meters last spring for Cherry Hill East, ran 24:39 over Princeton’s 8K course.

Groff was Penn’s top runner Saturday, and the Quakers placed third overall despite not using their top group, which had raced on Friday. Columbia won with 107 points, followed by Yale (104) and Penn (107).

Groff averaged 4:58 per mile and edged senior teammate Lyle Wistar by 3-10ths of a second to finish as Penn’s top finisher. Groff has been Penn’s sixth or seventh man in the two meets so far this fall that the Quakers have run at full strength.

Penn’s top group ran Friday at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational in Verona, Wisc.

Groff ran sub-15:40 twice at Holmdel last year, placing second in the state Group 4 race and third in the Meet of Champions.

Groff was the fourth freshman across the line Saturday at Princeton.


Shawnee girls post lowest score in 15 years in winning BurlCo Open

Freshman Isabella Turner celebrated her birthday by leading five Shawnee girls in the top 10, and the Renegades won the Burlington County Open XC title with the lowest score in 15 years.

Turner covered the 5,000-meter Mill Creek Park course in 19:18, with teammate Kara Bonner 50 meters back in second.

Shawnee, ranked No. 8 in New Jersey, scored just 23 points in beating No. 13 Seneca 23-80. Shawnee’s score is the lowest since the 2001 Moorestown girls — who went on to win the Meet of Champions — scored a near-perfect 17.

The team title was Shawnee’s fourth in a row, which is the longest streak since Shawnee won 11 team titles in a row from 1998 through 2008.

Going back to 1982, Shawnee has now won 22 titles in the last 35 years.

Shawnee went 1-2-4-6-10 and had all seven of its runners inside the top 16. Bonner ran 19:30 for second. This was Bonner’s fourth straight top-5 finish in the County Open (2nd, 5th, 1st, 2nd).

Junior Claire Rankin (4th, 20:19), sophomore Grace Kearns (6th, 20:30) and sophomore Lauren Tenet (10th, 20:48) rounded out Shawnee’s scoring group. Juniors Laura Mavracic and Georgia Larzelere ran 15th and 16th for the Renegades.

Scoring Shawnee vs. the rest of Burlington County combined, Shawnee would have won 23-32.

Incredibly, the 1-2 finish of Turner and Bonner is the first in the girls race since Moorestown went 1-2 in 2001, with Meghan Hughes first in 19:29 and her cousin, Colleen Hughes, second in 20:03. Moorestown actually went 1-2-3 that year, with Kelsey Rinehart third in 20:10.


Future is bright! Cherokee freshmen set Holmdel course record at Shore Coaches!

We don’t normally write about freshmen races, but when the freshmen run this well, we can make an exception.

The Cherokee freshmen packed five runners in 49 seconds, won the team title by 44 points and set a course record on the Holmdel County Park 2.1-mile freshman course Saturday in the Division A freshman race at Shore Coaches.

Christopher Spisak and Chase Miller placed second and third in 11:16 and 11:33, with the Chiefs’ next three runners all crossing the line in a six-second group – Ethan Wechsler 11th in 11:59, Robert Hackney 13th in 12:02 and Michael Gavio 14th in 12:05.

Cherokee outscored Christian Brothers Academy’s freshmen, 43-87, with Westfield third at 149.

The Chiefs averaged 11:47 on the hilly course, which eliminates the Bowl from the 3.1-mile varsity course.

An 11:47 on a 2.1-mile course is 17:23 pace for a 5,000-meter course.

The previous freshman record was 11:49 per man, set last year by East Brunswick in the A race. CBA averaged 11:52 in 2012.