Austin Gabay and Ethan Wechsler locked up Friday in a titanic battle at the Burlington County Open the resulted in the fastest 1-2 finish at Mill Creek Park since the course was extended from three miles to 5,000 meters in 1984.
Gabay, a Cinnaminson junior, edged Wechsler, a Cherokee junior, with both going under 16 minutes.
Gabay won in 15:56.02 and Wechsler ran the fastest non-winning time in course history when he took second in 15:57.46, about eight meters back.
Their times are No. 4 and No. 5 in course history. Wechsler’s time breaks the record for second place set in 2002 by Jon Anderson, who ran 16:01 behind Keith Krieger’s course record.
Here’s a look at every time under 16:10 in course history. All the times are from the County Open except Urie Ridgeway’s 16:06, which comes from the 1988 Group 3 sectionals, the only time sectionals were run at Mill Creek. Incredible that 10 of the 11-fastest times in course history belong to Cinnaminson and Cherokee runners.
15:43 … Keith Krieger [Cherokee], 2002
15:56 … Justin Kelly [Cherokee], 2017
15:56 … Shawn Wilson [Cherokee], 2012
15:56 … Austin Gabay [Cinnaminson], 2018
15:57 … Ethan Wechsler [Cherokee], 2018
15:59 … Mike Ungvarsky [Cinnaminson], 2016
16:01 … Jon Anderson [Cinnaminson], 2002
16:04 … Dave Forward [Shawnee], 2008
16:05 … Bill Mason [Cinnaminson], 1998
16:06 … Chris Spisak [Cherokee], 2017
16:06 … Steve Grabowski [Cinnaminson], 2005
16:06 … Urie Ridgeway [Bridgeton], 1988
16:07 … Eric Lorenz [Holy Cross], 1986
16:08 … Eric Lorenz [Holy Cross], 1987
Gabay is the fifth Cinnaminson runner to win the County Open XC title, joining Bill Mason (1998), Anderson (2003), Steve Grabowski (2004) and Mike Ungvarsky (2016).
Cherokee scored 27 points and won its fifth straight team title, 27-51, over Lenape.
The Chiefs have won 20 Burlington County Open titles, including 18 of the last 24.
Cherokee raced without Chris Spisak, last year’s runner-up. But even without Spisak, Cherokee went 2-3-5-6-11. The Chiefs would have beaten the field [1-4-7-8-9] by a 27-29 figure.
Junior Chase Miller was third in 16:32, sophomores Brett Shea and Nico Grilli ran fifth and sixth in 16:48 and 16:51 and junior Michael Gave took 11th in 17:08. Sophomore Dylan Odud was Cherokee’s sixth man in 14th in 17:24.
Lenape placed senior James Vizzard [4th in 16:46], junior Matt Richardson [8th in 16:57], senior Zaven Kazandjian [9th in 16:57] and senior Nick Morris [10th in 17:02] in the top 10 in its second straight second-place finish.
Lenape’s 51 points are the lowest second-place total in 16 years, since Cherokee edged Cinnaminson 39-41 in the 2002 meet.
Shawnee’s third-place finish was its best since it was third in 2009. Senior Tim Warren led the Renegades with a seventh-place finish in 16:54.