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!