Rebuilt Kingsway outraces Westfield for second straight state Group 4 title!!!!! GET YOUR DRAGONS ON!!!!!

Kingsway won last year’s state Group 4 title with 51 points, then graduated five of its top six runners.

Then came back with virtually a new team and did it all over again.

No. 4 Kingsway, with just two of its top seven back from last year’s championship team, stunned Westfield, the state’s No. 3-ranked team, 91-97, to win its second straight state Group 4 XC championship.

That’s incredible!

The only returning runners from Kingsway’s top seven last year are senior Kieran Burns, who was 11th at states a year ago, and junior Stone Caraccio, who was 73rd last year as Kingsway’s seventh man.

On Saturday, Burns and Caraccio placed 10th and 11th and Kingsway packed its five scorers in 36 seconds to hold off Westfield, who had a 30-second pack.

Burns ran 16:38 and Caraccio 16:39, and they were backed up by seniors Daniel Reynolds (16th in 16:45) and Gavin Wagner (21st in 16:49) and junior Ayden Magee (47th in 17:14). Senior Stephen Wilkins and freshman Kyle Rakitis also ran for Kingsway.

The title is the third for Kingsway, who also won Group 3 in 2012. Kingsway is the only Gloucester County school to ever win a state XC title.

Kingsway is the first South Jersey school to repeat in Group 4 since Cherokee won four straight from 1997 through 2000. The only other one to do it was Vineland in 1964 and 1965.

Cherokee was third with 122 points despite missing one of its top runners and two of its top seven, and the Chiefs matched Kingsway with a 16:49 average that will advance them to the Meet of Champions as a wild card.

Overall winner was junior Ethan Wechsler of Cherokee, who joined Joe Halin (1999), Marc Pelerin (2001) and Shawn Wilson (2012) as the fourth Cherokee individual state champ.

Wechsler ran 16:09 on a day when the Holmdel County Park 5,000-meter course was running slower than usual following a day of torrential rain.

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