Aldridge blazes fastest NJ time at Van Cortland in 33 years, becomes SJ’s first Foot Locker NE winner!!!

Alyssa Aldridge made history Saturday.

Lots of history.

♦ Aldridge, a junior at Mainland Regional, became the first girl ever from South Jersey to win the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals at historic Van Cortland Park.

♦ She became only the third New Jersey winner ever at Northeast Regionals and the first in 28 years.

♦ She ran the fastest time by a New Jersey girl at Vanny in 33 years, the third-fastest ever and the fastest by a South Jersey girl in 34 years.

♦ She became only the second South Jersey girl ever to place in the top-six at Foot Locker Regionals in back-to-back years.

And of course she established herself as a real threat to finish at or near the front at Foot Locker nationals in two weeks in San Diego.

Aldridge ran 17:40.3 to win the Foot Locker Northeast Regional race over the historic Van Cortland 5,000-meter course in New York.

Aldridge, sixth at Regionals in 17:47 and 23rd at nationals last year, finished a whopping 70 meters ahead of Jacqueline Gaughan, a junior at Exeter High in New Hampshire, who was second in 17:55.

With her 17:40, Aldridge moved into the No. 3 spot on the all-time New Jersey list at Van Cortland Park, behind only two legends from the early 1980s – Janet Smith of J.P. Stevens and Michelle Rowen of Washington Township.

Her time is No. 25 all-time on the legendary 5,000-meter Vanny course, which has been used for Foot Locker Northeast Regionals since the meet’s inception 38 years ago.

Aldridge is the third New Jersey winner ever at Northeast Regionals, after only Smith in 1983 and Christi Constantin of Kittatinny Regional in 1988.

After decades without much of a peep from South Jersey girls at Foot Locker Regionals, it’s been quite a run for South Jersey.

After South Jersey was blanked in 22 of the meet’s first 24 years, South Jersey has now had at least one qualifier 10 of the last 14 years. In all, South Jersey has had 11 qualifiers in the last 10 years.

Thirteen of the 15 Foot Locker Nationals qualifiers South Jersey has produced have been since 2003.

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
  • 17:40.3 … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Regional], 2015 
  • 17:42.3 … Christi Constantin [Kittatinny Reg.], 1988
  • 17:43.2 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
  • 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

And here’s a look at every Foot Locker Nationals qualifier from South Jersey:
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
1st Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg,.], 17:40.3

Finally, here’s the all-time Van Cortland list, with New Jersey runners in bold face:

16:46.0 – Cathy Schiro (Dover, N.H.), 1984
17:04.7 – Lois Brommer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), 1981
17:08.1 – Janet Smith (J.P. Stevens, N.J.), 1983
17:19.3 – Christine Curtin (Mepham, N.Y.), 1982
17:23.3 – Mary Cobb (Pittsfield, Mass.), 1994
17:25.1 – Sally Glynn (Walter Johnson, Md.), 1994
17:28.7 – Michelle Rowen (Washington Twp., N.J.), 1982
17:31.1 – Emily Jones (Harvard, Mass.), 2008
17:31.5 – Erin Sullivan (Mount Mansfield, Vt.), 1997
17:32.0 – Cheri Goddard (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 1988
17:32.3 – Tessa Barrett (Waverly, Pa.), 2013
17:32.4 – Liz Mueller (Waterford, Conn.), 1991
17:33.4 – Ari Lambie (Bromfield, Mass.), 2002
17:34.1 – Denise Bushallow (Auburn, N.Y.), 1986
17:35.1 – Lynne Strauss (State College, Pa.), 1981
17:35.2 – Brianna Schwartz (Shaler, Pa.), 2014
17:37.1 – Dana Ostrander (Shenendehowa, N.Y.), 1994
17:37.3 – Anoush Shehadeh (Phillips Andover, N.Y.), 2013
17:37.4 – Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Pa.), 2007
17:37.7 – Shelby Greaney (Suffern, N.Y.), 2008
17:39.0 – Aisling Cuffe (Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.), 2008
17:39.1 – Madeleine Davison (Wexford, Pa.), 17:39.1
17:39.3 – Ceci Hopp (Greenwich, Conn.), 1980
17:39.4 – Hannah Debase (Staples, Ct.), 2013
17:40.3 – Alyssa Aldridge (Mainland Reg.), 2016
17:40.5 – Susannah Beck (Waynflete School, Maine), 1985
17:41.5 – Erin Davis (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 1993
17:41.5 – Jessica Lawson (Addison, N.Y.), 2015
17:41.8 – Nicole Blood (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 2004
17:41.8 – Nicole Blood (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 2005
17:42.1 – Hannah Davidson (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 2006
17:42.3 – Christi Constantin (Kittatinny Reg., N.J.), 1988
17:42.5 – Stacey Prey (Brighton, N.Y.), 1984
17:42.7 – Maria Coffin (Annapolis, Md.), 2015
17:43.2 – Briana Gess (Haddonfield, N.J.), 2013
17:43.3 – Laura Craven (Beechcroft, Ohio), 1981
17:43.7 – Hannah DeBalsi (Westport, Ct.), 2015
17:44.0 – Carly Seymour (Central Cambria, Pa.), 2006
17:44.2 – Mary Kate Champagne (Plattsburgh, N.Y.), 2007
17:44.2 – Briana Gess (Haddonfield, N.J.), 17:44.2
17:45.0 – Laura Whitney (Stony Brook School, N.Y.), 1981
17:46.1 – Tara Chaplin (Union-32, Vt.), 1997
17:46.8 – Aisling Ryan (Warwick Valley, N.Y.), 2004
17:46.8 – Keely Maguire (Georgetown, Mass.), 2007
17:47.8 – Alyssa Aldridge (Mainland Reg.), 2015
17:48.4 – Natasha Roetter (Lexington, Mass.), 2001
17:48.8 – Emily Lipari (Roslyn, N.Y.), 2007
17:49.5 – Caterina Rocha (Peabody, Mass.), 2012
17:49.7 – Megan Reilly (Warwick, N.Y.), 2013
17:50.0 – Lindsey Scharf (Scarsdale, N.Y.), 2003
17:50.0 – Aislinn Ryan (Warwick, N.Y.), 2005
17:51.2 – Emma McMillan (Barrington, R.I.), 2014
17:51.5 – Amanda White (Dulaney, Md.), 1991
17:51.7 – Kacey Gibson (New Castle, Pa.), 2007
17:51.8 – Caitlin Lane (Saratoga, N.Y.), 2005
17:52.0 – Ashley Higginson (Marlboro. N.J.), 2006
17:52.1 – Hannah Davidson (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 2004
17:52.7 – Ariel Keklak (Sudbury, Mass.), 2015
17:52.9 – Thayer Plante (Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Mass.), 1982
17:53.0 – Nnenna Lynch (Hunter College, N.Y.), 1988
17:53.6 – Madeleine Davison (Wexford, Pa.), 2014
17:54.2 – Christine Crowley (Wellesley, Mass.), 1985
17:54.2 – Jillian Mastroianni (Sayville, N.Y.), 1998
17:54.4 – Erin Dietz (Bedford, Mass.), 2014
17:54.7 – Lindsey Ferguson (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), 2005
17:54.8 – Erica Palmer (Monadnock, N.H.), 1997
17:54.9 – Danielle Tauro (Southern Reg., N.J.), 2005
17:55.2 – Jacqueline Gaughan (Exeter, N.Y.), 2016
17:55.4 – Jodie Bilotta (North Hunterdon, N.J.), 1985
17:55.6 – Katie Trotter (Red Bank Reg., N.J.), 2002
17:55.7 – Anna Flynn (Ursuline, N.Y.), 2014
17:55.9 – Anne Letko (North Hunterdon, N.J.), 1985
17:55.9 – Peggy Melonic (East Aurora, N.Y.), 1997
17:55.9 – Alison Smith (Columbia, Md.), 2006
17:56.7 – Eileen Ellig (Rutland, Vt.), 1984
17:57.5 – Eleanor Lawler (Wakefield, R.I.), 2015
17:57.9 – Kristin Seabury (Stoneham, Mass.), 1985
17:58.4 – Sage Hurta (Hamilton, N.Y.), 2015
17:58.7 – Marissa Sheva (Sellersville, Pa.), 2014
17:58.8 – Donna Fidler (Norristown, Pa.), 1994
17:59.3 – Molly Huddle (Notre Dame, N.Y.), 2001
17:59.8 – Maria Coffin (Annapolis, Md.), 2016

Not even in TCNJ’s top-7 last year and now top-50 at NCAAs … It’s the remarkable story of Natalie Cooper!

image_handler-aspxNatalie Cooper’s top-50 finish at the NCAA Division 3 cross country nationals would be amazing even if it weren’t for the remarkable way she got there.

Her path to the top 50 makes the story even crazier.

Cooper was often injured during her running career at Moorestown High School. When she was healthy enough to train and race, she had success. But those moments were infrequent.

As a sophomore, she placed fourth in the Group 3 XC sectionals at Delsea with an 18:56, which put her ahead of some pretty accomplished runners, including future Meet of Champions winner Devin Grisbaum of Ocean City. She also ran an 11:17 for 3,200 meters that spring, which got her in the top 20 at Meet of Champs.

But injuries slowed her down as a junior and senior, and when she was healthy enough to race she was far off her pace as a sophomore.

But she never quit and never stopped running. And it paid off.

Cooper entered the College of New Jersey in the fall of 2015 and ran for the Lions, who count as one of their coaches former Rancocas Valley star Mike Walker. But she didn’t break into TCNJ’s top-seven as a freshman, and her season highlights take up all of three lines on the TCNJ web site.

Which brings us to this year. Cooper finally found herself healthy again and enjoyed an amazing season this year racing for TCNJ.

She ran a very strong 16th with 21:31 over 6K on the challenging Lehigh course at the Paul Short Invite. She took fifth in the Rowan Invite in 21:02. She easily won the New Jersey Athletic Conference race at Stockton. She ran sixth in a loaded race at the NCAA Division 3 Atlantic Regionals. She was named NJAC Runner of the Year.

It was a season nobody saw coming, including her coaches and Cooper herself.

And it all led to the NCAA Division 3 Nationals in Louisville, Ky.

There, over 6,000 meters at Tom Sawyer State Park, Cooper ran 21:29 to place 47th overall in a field of nearly 300 women. She was the 12th sophomore across the line and actually PR’d for 3,000 with a 10:19 along the way.

Cooper was actually in the top 20 until the final 400 meters, which says that with another year of solid training under her belt she’s a real threat to earn All-America status next year.

Her 47th-place finish is best by a TCNJ woman in nine years, since Martine McGrath, who ran scholastically at West Long Branch, placed 10th in the 2007 meet.

For any young runner out there struggling with injuries, Cooper’s story should be a terrific lesson in determination and persistence. If you keep going, don’t quit and believe in yourself, amazing things can happen!

Cooper, who ran for John Denning at Moorestown, will run the 3,000 and 5,000 in track, and if her XC season is any sign, she’s in store for a lot more success for the Lions this winter and spring.


Kingsway girls end 13-year South Jersey drought with third-place M-of-C finish!

Senior Rachel Vick placed third overall and led the Kingsway girls to a remarkable third-place finish Saturday in the Meet of Champions cross country championship race at historic Holmdel County Park.

Junior Alexis Mullarkey placed 28th in 19:44 — 65 seconds faster than she ran at states. She was 13th among girls running for full teams.

Third place is the best finish ever at the girls Meet of Champions by a Gloucester County school and the best by a South Jersey school in 13 years.

Kingsway became the  first South Jersey girls team to finish in the top three in a Meet of Champions since Shawnee won in 2013. It’s been over 20 years since a school outside Burlington County finished in the top three in the girls meet. Shawnee and Moorestown each have had two top-three finishes since.

What’s more amazing is that Kingsway had never even qualified for the Meet of Champions before. So the Dragons placed third in their first trip ever to the M-of-C (although Mullarkey in 2015 and Vick kin 2014 had run as individuals).

No Gloucester County school had even placed in the top 10 in the girls M-0f-C since Delsea was eighth in 2009.

What’s even more amazing is that Kingsway advanced to the M-of-C as a wild card after finishing fifth at states. At the M-of-C, the Lady Dragons turned the tables on Hillsborough and Shawnee, who they lost to in the state Group 4 meet.

Ridge won the team title with 71 points, followed by North Hunterdon with 117 and Kingsway with 132. Shawnee was fourth (179), giving Group 4 the top four spots in the race.

Kingsway averaged 19:59 per girl for its top five of Vick (18:41), junior Mullarkey (28th in 19:44), senior Destiny Stanford (55th in 20:16), sophomore Lauren Krott (71st in 20:33) and senior McKenzie Nugent (81st in 20:44).

That’s the fifth-fastest average in the last 20 years (and probably ever) at Holmdel by a South Jersey girls school, behind 2013 Haddonfield (19:35), 2013 Shawnee (19:49), 2005 Haddonfield (19:53) and 2006 Cherry Hill East (19:56).

How well did Kingsway run? Five of the top 20 South Jersey finishers wore a Kingsway singlet.

Krott, who wasn’t even in Kingsway’s top-5 at states, was the Lady Dragons’ fourth runner Saturday and ran 37 seconds faster than she did a week earlier on the same course.

Congrats to everybody involved with the Kingsway program for a remarkable day Saturday at the Meet of Champs!

NC State’s Erika Kemp from R.V. earns All-America honors at NCAA Division 1 XC nationals!!!

Mount Holly native Erika Kemp (left) and N.C. State teammate Rachel Koon celebrate after earning All-America status at the NCAA Division 1 XC Championships

In her final college cross country race, Erika Kemp earned All-America honors by placing 17th of 250 entrants in the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind.

Kemp, a Mount Holly native and Rancocas Valley graduate, helped N.C. State place fourth overall in the country, the Wolfpack’s best finish since the 2001 team placed second.

Kemp ran 20:10.6 over the 6,000-meter course, finishing just eight seconds out of the top 10 and 29 seconds behind winner Karissa Schweitzer.

Kemp’s best previous finish at NCAA cross country was 57th last year. Including indoor and outdoor track, she’s now a three-time NCAA All-America.

N.C. State scored 223 points, finishing 98 behind overall winner Oregon, who scored 125 and won by one point over Michigan. Colorado was third with 134 and N.C. State was on the podium for the first time in 14 years with 223 points for fourth.

Kemp ran 10:40 for 3,200 meters for R.V. in 2012, winning the state Group 4 title and placing fifth in the Meet of Champions.

Kemp’s 17th-place finish matches the best by an N.C. women since 2006, when Julia Lucas placed fourth (although she ran 38 seconds slower than Kemp on the same course). In 2009, Emily Pritt also placed 17th.


Alyssa Aldridge etched her name into the record books Saturday by becoming only the third South Jersey girl in the meet’s 44-year history to win consecutive Meet of Champions titles.

The Mainland Regional junior covered the Holmdel County Park hills in 17:55, a personal best on the historic 5,000-meter layout and the fifth-fastest time ever by a South Jersey girl at Holmdel.

Aldridge won last year’s race in 18:07 and became the first girl to repeat since Melanie Thompson of Voorhees in 2007 and 2008.

The only other repeat winners from South Jersey are Olympian Erin Donohue of Haddonfield in 1999 and 2000 and Ocean City’s Brittany Sedberry in 2003 and 2004.

This is a record four straight wins by South Jersey girls. Haddonfield’s Briana Gess, second Saturday, won in 2013, and Devin Grisbaum won in 2014.

South Jersey girls have won seven of the last eight individual titles after winning just six of the first 36.

Aldridge won by about 450 meters over Gess. Her 40-second margin of victory is largest in 16 years, since Erin Donohue finished 46 seconds ahead of Jesse Mizzen of Passaic Valley in 2000. Kingsway’s Rachel Vick placed third, making it a 1-2-3 South Jersey sweep, and also led the Dragons to a remarkable third-place finish.

It’s the first sweep of the top four places by South Jersey girls since 2009, when Kingsway’s Chelsea Ley, Highland’s Megan Venables and Haddonfield’s Marielle Hall took the first three spots.

Here is the updated all-time South Jersey performance list at Holmdel:

17:28 Megan Venables [Highland Reg.], 2010
17:40 Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 1982
17:44 Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2008
17:45 Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
17:55 Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2010
17:55 Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland], 2015
18:09 Holly Bischof [Bishop Eustace], 2010
18:12 Brittany Sedberry [Ocean City], 2004
18:17 Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2009
18:18 Theresa Catunna [Cherry Hill East], 2006
18:20 Devin Grisbaum [Ocean City], 2014
18:22 Vanessa Wright [Haddonfield], 2004
18:27 Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], 2000
18:28 Grace Yoon [Cherry Hill East], 2016
18:29 Rachel Vick [Kingsway], 2016
18:38 Casey Doyle [Shawnee], 2007
18:40 Mindy Rowand [Sterling], 1984
18:40 Dina Iacone [Washington Twp.], 2011
18:41 Shelby Cain [Haddonfield], 2011
18:43 Amanda Goetschius [Delsea], 2005

There’s plenty more to talk. The Kingsway girls ran great. So did Shawnee. Alyssa Condell of Timber Creek broke 19 at Holmdel. And we’ll go over the boys race, too! All coming up later today and in the next few days!

S.J. girls primed for historic showing at 44th annual Meet of Champions!!!

It could be a historic day for South Jersey Saturday at the 44th annual Meet of Champions cross country championships at legendary Holmdel County Park.

South Jersey runners own four of the top eight times going into Saturday from the various state meets, and that doesn’t take into consideration that Brianna Gess has run almost a minute faster in the past at Holmdel than she did at states on Saturday.

Here are your top eight seeds for Saturday morning:

18:06 … Alyssa Aldridge, Mainland Regional
18:27 … Olympia Martin, Ridgewood
18:27 … Grace Yoon, Cherry Hill East
18:28 … Rachel Vick, Kingsway
18:29 … Niamh Hayes, Howell
18:38 … Jade Tricomy, Toms River North
18:39 … Elene DiMarcello, North Hunterdon
18:42 … Brianna Gess, Haddonfield

Three of the four girls that broke 18:30 at states are from South Jersey, and although anything can happen Saturday, it does set up the possibility for the first truly deep South Jersey finish at Meet of Champions in years.

Here’s a look at all the South Jersey girls who broke 20 minutes at states and are in the field Saturday:

18:06 … Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland Reg.]
18:27 … Grace Yoon [Cherry Hill East]
18:27 … Rachel Vick [Kingsway]
18:42 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield]
19:00 … Alyssa Condelll [Timber Creek]
19:18 … Alexa Weber [Ocean City]
19:23 … Sarah Pierce [Cherry Hill East]
19:27 … Madison Coppolino [Sterling]
19:49 … Destiny Stanford [Kingsway]
19:55 … Carley Tool [Seneca]
19:57 … Julia Rothstein [Clearview]

It’s been seven years since South Jersey had four girls in the top eight at a Meet of Champions. In 2009, Kingsway’s Chelsea Ley, Highland’s Megan Venables and Haddonfield’s Marielle Hall swept the top three spots, and Megan Lacy of Cherokee was seventh.

The last time even three South Jersey runners placed in the top eight was 2010, when Venables and Holly Bishof of Bishop Eustace went 1-2, and Cherokee’s  Lacy finished fourth.

South Jersey is also looking for its fourth consecutive individual title. following wins by Gess in 2013, Devin Grisbaum of Ocean City in 2014 and Aldridge last year.

Going back to Ley in 2009, Venables in 2010 and Bischof in 2011, South Jersey girls have won six of the last seven titles after winning just six of the previous 36.

Here’s the updated all-time South Jersey Holmdel list:

17:28 Megan Venables [Highland Reg.], 2010
17:40 Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 1982
17:44 Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2008
17:45 Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
17:55 Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2010
18:05 Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland], 2015
18:09 Holly Bischof [Bishop Eustace], 2010
18:12 Brittany Sedberry [Ocean City], 2004
18:17 Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2009
18:18 Theresa Catunna [Cherry Hill East], 2006
18:20 Devin Grisbaum [Ocean City], 2014
18:22 Vanessa Wright [Haddonfield], 2004
18:27 Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], 2000
18:28 Grace Yoon [Cherry Hill East], 2016
18:29 Rachel Vick [Kingsway], 2016
18:38 Casey Doyle [Shawnee], 2007
18:40 Mindy Rowand [Sterling], 1984
18:40 Dina Iacone [Washington Twp.], 2011
18:41 Shelby Cain [Haddonfield], 2011
18:43 Amanda Goetschius [Delsea], 2005
18:44 Arianna McKinney [Highland], 2003
18:49 Mara Sschiffhauer [Seneca], 2013
18:50 Dawn Cody [Paul VI], 1982
18:50 Jamie Wisgerber [Woodstown], 1994
18:50 Meghan Malloy [Haddonfield], 2011
18:52 Lisa Burkholder [Cherokee], 2004
18:53 Renee Tomlin [Ocean City], 2005
18:57 Lori Watson [Cherry Hill East], 1983
18:58 Abbey Hartman [Ocean City], 1996
18:59 Wendy Westphal [Highland], 1982
18:59 Kara Bonner [Shawnee,], 2015
19:00 Katie Van Horn [Triton], 2004

The official NJSIAA Meet of Champions, which lists all the boys and girls individual and team winners  in meet history is here.

The boys race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., with the girls race following at 11:45 a.m.


Aldridge cruises to huge win at NJ-3; could rare sub-18 at M-of-C be next?

Mainland Regional senior Alyssa Aldridge, the defending Meet of Champions winner, ran nearly as fast Saturday in winning states by nearly a minute than she ran a year ago in winning the Meet of Champions.

That certainly points to the possibility of Aldridge’s first sub-18 clocking on the hilly and historic 5,000-meter course at Holmdel County Park.

Aldridge won by 240 meters over Colts Neck sophomore Colleen Megerle, who was second in 18:59.

Nobody in any of the other state races Saturday broke 18:28, so Aldridge is 21 seconds faster than the field going into the Meet of Champions.

Aldridge won the M-of-C in 18:06 last year and ran 18:07 on Saturday. Some statisticians will say Aldridge matched her Meet of Champions time, since her official FAT time last year was 18:06.25, which rounds up to 18:07. Times were not recorded beyond minutes and seconds this year.

In any case, an 18:07 over 5,000 meters comes out to just over 5:50 per mile. To break 18, she would need to lower than only to 5:48.

Only five South Jersey girls have ever broken 18 minutes at Holmdel:

17:28 … Megan Venables [Highland Reg.], 2010
17:40 … Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 1982
17:44 … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2008
17:45 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
17:55 … Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2010

Aldridge ranks sixth on the all-time South Jersey list, just behind that group.

In state history, only 14 girls have broken 18 minutes at Holmdel, most recently Gess in 2013. Aldridge currently ranks 16th on the all-time state list, maintained by Pat Monferrat.

For the full all-time South Jersey  list, click here.


Ungvarsky out-leans Pt. Pleasant Boro’s Hart, becomes 4th Cinnaminson runner to win state XC title!!!!!

It was clear early on that either Pt. Pleasant Boro’s Devin Hart, the South Jersey Group 2 XC champion, and Cinnaminson’s Michael Ungvarsky, the state Group 2 champ at 3,200 meters last spring, was going to win the state Group 2 XC title Saturday.

Hart edged Ungvarsky at Delsea last weekend in the South Jersey Group 2 race, but in the rematch, with a state title at state, Ungvarsky came out in front.

Ungvarsky, a Cinnaminson senior, and Hart, a Pt. Pleasant Boro sophomore, were both credited with 15:58 on the historic 5,000-meter layout at Holmdel County Park, with Ungvarsky prevailing to become Cinnaminson’s fourth individual state champion.

This is the first time in history two runners have finished under 16 minutes in a state Group 2 race at Holmdel.

Ungvarsky follows Dave Zamichielli in 1987, Bill Mason in 1998 and Jon Anderson in 2003, all in Group 2.

Ungvarsky ran one second faster at Holmdel at Shore Coaches, but his time was still fourth-fastest at the state Group 2 meet since it moved to Holmdel.

A gap of about 165 meters separated Ungvarsky and Hart at the finish line from third-place Jared Cooper of Mountain Lakes, who ran 16:31.

Cinnaminson and Cherokee are responsible for seven of eight state XC titles that Burlington County boys have won over the past 48 years, with Delran’s Rex Myers — a U.S. Junior National steeplechase champion — the only exception.

Here is a complete list of every Burlington County boy in history to win a state cross country title:

Walter Molineux [Moorestown], 1947, Groups 1-2-3 [13:25]
Rodman Zwirner [Moorestown], 1954, Group 1-2-3 [12:48]
Carl Budden [Rancocas Valley], 1961, Group 3 [12:34]
Barry Middleton [Moorestown], 1962, Groups 1-2 [12:39]
Ricky Jacques [Burlington Twp.], 1966, Group 1 [12:45]
Ricky Jacques [Burlington Twp.], 1967, Group 1 [12:11]
Bill Sampson [Burlington Twp.], 1968, Group 1 [12:42]
Dave Zamichielli [Cinnaminson, 1987, Group 2 [16:45]
Rex Myers [Delran], 1988, Group 2 [16:27]
Bill Mason [Cinnaminson], 1998, Group 2 [16:37]
Joe Halin [Cherokee], 1999, Group 4 [16:09]
Marc Pelerin [Cherokee], 2001, Group 4  [16:09]
Jon Anderson [Cinnaminson], 2003, Group 2  [16:19]
Shawn Wilson [Cherokee], 2012, Group 4  [15:40]
Michael Ungvarsky [Cinnaminson], 2016, Group 2 [15:58]

Merkh becomes first SJ girl in 18 years to win NJ Group 1 XC title!!!

No South Jersey girl had won a state Group 1 title in nearly two decades.

When Annika Merkh finally ended that 18-year drought, she did it in overwhelming fashion.

Merkh, a senior at Haddon Township, won the state Group 1 cross country title Saturday by nearly 90 meters, becoming the first South Jersey girl since 1998 to win the state Group 1 championship.

She’s also the first Haddon Township girl ever to win a state cross country title.

Merkh ran 20:08, with Buena freshman Alana Sasdelli taking second in 20:29. Curiously, no South Jersey girl had finished first or second in the state Group 1 race since 1998, so the two best performances in nearly 20 years both came on Saturday.

The last South Jersey girl to finish first or second at Group 1 states was Olympian Erin Donohue of Haddonfield, who won the 1997 and 1998 races on the same hilly 5,000-meter course at Holmdel County Park.

Since the state girls meet was broken up into groups in 1976, the only other South Jersey girls to win the Group 1 title are Ruth Lockbaum of Glamssboro in 1985, Cheryl Keating of Sacred Heart in 1989, Janet Rue of Pitman in 1990 and 1991, Jen Rafferty of Riverside in 1993.

Merkh reached the XC Meet of Champions for the first time in cross country. She was 12th at states last year, just missing. She’s been to the M-of-C three times outdoors in the 1,600.

Her previous PR at Holmdel was 21:10 at last year’s state meet, so she trimmed more than a minute off that time.


The highest previous finish by a Haddon Township girl was third place, and that happened three times.

Sharon Crow was third in the 1997 race in 21:05, Holly Gallagher was third in the 2007 race in 20:20, leading Township to its only state team title, and Nora Grimm was third last year.



C.H. East’s Yoon, Kingsway’s Vick race into all-time SJ Holmdel top-15!

Grace Yoon and Rachel Vick both broke 18:30 on the hallowed 5,000-meter Holmdel County Park course Saturday, both earning spots on the all-time South Jersey list on the hilly course that’s hosted the New Jersey State Cross Country Championships since the 1970s.

Yoon, a freshman at Cherry Hill East, placed second in the state Group 4 meet in 18:28, and Vick, a senior at Kingsway, placed third in 18:29 in a crazy finish that saw four girls finish between 18:28 and 18:30.

Ridgewood senior Olympia Martin won the race in 18:28, followed by Yoon, Vick and Niamh Hayes of Howell, who was fourth in 18:30.

Yoon and Vick moved into the 13th and 14th spots on the all-time Holmdel County Park list, just behind two-time Olympian Erin Donohue of Haddonfield.

This was only the fifth time ever two South Jersey girls ran 18:30 or faster in the same race at Holmdel.

Yoon’s time is only nine seconds off the school record at Holmdel, Theresa Catunna’s 18:18 when she placed third in the 2006 Meet of Champions behind Danielle Tauro and Ashley Higginson.

Vick’s time is No. 2 in Kingsway history, behind Chelsea Ley, whose fastest time at Holmdel was a 17:44 at the 2008 Shore Coaches meet. It’s also No. 3 in Gloucester County history, behind only Michelle Rowen of Washington Township (17:40 in 1982) and Ley.

Yoon had never previously run at Holmdel and her time was somehow 19 seconds faster on New Jersey’s most challenging course Saturday as it was a week earlier at Delsea on New Jersey’s  easiest course. So this was a huge breakthrough for her.

Vick’s previous best time at Holmdel was 19:27 at the 2014 state Group 4 meet.

Here is the updated all-time South Jersey Holmdel County Park performance list, with the best time by any girl who’s ever run 19:00 or faster. As always, corrections and additions are welcome!

17:28 Megan Venables [Highland Reg.], 2010
17:40 Michelle Rowen [Washington Twp.], 1982
17:44 Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2008
17:45 Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
17:55 Megan Lacy [Cherokee], 2010
18:05 Alyssa Aldridge [Mainland], 2015
18:09 Holly Bischof [Bishop Eustace], 2010
18:12 Brittany Sedberry [Ocean City], 2004
18:17 Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2009
18:18 Theresa Catunna [Cherry Hill East], 2006
18:20 Devin Grisbaum [Ocean City], 2014
18:22 Vanessa Wright [Haddonfield], 2004
18:27 Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], 2000
18:28 Grace Yoon [Cherry Hill East], 2016
18:29 Rachel Vick [Kingsway], 2016
18:38 Casey Doyle [Shawnee], 2007
18:40 Mindy Rowand [Sterling], 1984
18:40 Dina Iacone [Washington Twp.], 2011
18:41 Shelby Cain [Haddonfield], 2011
18:43 Amanda Goetschius [Delsea], 2005
18:44 Arianna McKinney [Highland], 2003
18:49 Mara Sschiffhauer [Seneca], 2013
18:50 Dawn Cody [Paul VI], 1982
18:50 Jamie Wisgerber [Woodstown], 1994
18:50 Meghan Malloy [Haddonfield], 2011
18:52 Lisa Burkholder [Cherokee], 2004
18:53 Renee Tomlin [Ocean City], 2005
18:57 Lori Watson [Cherry Hill East], 1983
18:58 Abbey Hartman [Ocean City], 1996
18:59 Wendy Westphal [Highland], 1982
18:59 Kara Bonner [Shawnee,], 2015
19:00 Katie Van Horn [Triton], 2004