Williamstown’s Mike Dowd of Rowan College [Gloucester County] places second in JUCO nationals!!!!!

step0001.pngWilliamstown High School graduate Mike Dowd, a sophomore at Rowan College Gloucester County, ran 27:18 in wet, cold and windy conditions to place second in the JUCO XC Division 3 nationals.

Dowd finished behind only Daniel Taylor of Sandhills College in Pinehurst, N.C., who ran 26:32 over the 8,000-meter course at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass.

Dowd placed eighth as a freshman so he’s now a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-America.

The versatile Dowd ran 2:01, 4:31 and 9:51 for the Braves and was also a 57.51 intermediate hurdler.

Rowan placed sixth in team scoring with 221 points. Freshmen Noah Cziryak from Triton [19th in 28:34] and Jake Kolodziej of Washington Township [22nd in 28:47] also placed in the top 25 for the Roadrunners.



Connor Melko becomes Bishop Eustace’s first state XC champion in 35 years!!!!!

Connor Melko won his fourth state title Saturday, his first in cross country, when he ran away from the field in the state Parochial B race at Holmdel County Park.

Melko, a Bishop Eustace senior ran 16:50 over the hilly, water-logged 5,000-meter course, beating the field by 22 seconds. Jeremy Bronstein of Dwight Englewood was second, more than 100 meters back.

Melko won state indoor titles in the 800 and 1,600 as a sophomore and in the 1,600 last year.

It had been 35 years since a Bishop Eustace runner won a state title. Paul Rabon won Parochial B in 1982 and 1983.

Eustace placed second in the team race with 103 points, behind only Newark Academy, which won with 54 points.

Melko is the first South Jersey runner to win Parochial B states in 19 years, since John Sheperd of Wildwood Catholic won the 1999 race in 17:25 on the same course.

Tim Callinan of Sacred Heart (1997) and Mike DeLaney of Wildwood Catholic (1998) along with Rabon are the only other South Jersey winners of this race.

Schalick grad Samuel Gerstenbacher punches ticket to NCAA D-3 National Championships!!!!!

Schalick graduate Samuel Gerstenbacher, an Elizabethtown junior, earned a trip to NCAA Division 3 nationals Saturday when he placed seventh in the Mideast Region Championships at DeSales College in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County.

Gerstenbacher covered the 8,000-meter course in 26:10, finishing just 15 seconds behind overall winner Harley Moyer of Washington & Jefferson.

The top seven finishers not from teams that qualify for nationals earn at-large bids, so Gerstenbacher will race at NCAA Division 3 nationals at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Oshkosh, Wisc., on Saturday.

Gerstenbacher finished 42nd at regionals as a freshman and 29th last year, so that’s very steady improvement for the Elmer native.

At Schalick, Gerstenbacher ran 4:20.31 for 1,600 meters and 1:56.33 for 800 meters on the track. In XC, he had a terrific senior year, with titles at the Shore Coaches, South Jersey Open and Salem County Championships and a seventh at the state Group 1 meet.

Ethan Wechsler adds name to Cherokee lore with state Group 4 individual championship!!!

Ethan Wechsler continued his breakout junior season Saturday by becoming only the second South Jersey runner to win the state Group 4 individual title in the last 17 years.

Wechsler, a Cherokee junior, covered the water-logged Holmdel County Park course in 16:08. He finished 50 meters ahead of senior Nick Lundberg of Freehold Township, who ran 16:18.

He’s the first South Jersey runner to win the state Group 4 title since Shawn Wilson of Cherokee in 2012 and only the eighth since the meet’s inception in 1946.

Wechsler’s time was fastest of all South Jersey boys in the six state championship races at Holmdel Saturday.

Here’s a full list of South Jersey runners who’ve won the most competitive public school race in the state. As you can see, half of them, including the last three, are from Cherokee.

1969 … Steve Schoenwald [Woodrow Wilson]
1974 … Marty Ludwikowski [Cherry Hill West]
1990 … Jerry Franks [Highland]
1999 … Joe Halin [Cherokee]
2000 … Mike Myers [Eastern]
2001 … Marc Pelerin [Cherokee]
2012 … Shawn Wilson [Cherokee]
2018 … Ethan Wechsler [Cherokee]

For the sake of comparison, Wechsler finished 30th at states last year as a sophomore.

Cherokee’s top-5 also included junior Chase Miller [5th in 16:28], sophomore Brett Shea [26th in 16:55], sophomore Dylan Odud [52nd in 17:17] and senior David Jackson [54th in 17:17].

The Chiefs were missing two of their usual top 5 but still averaged 16:49, which would up tied for the third-fastest average time of the day:

16:38 … Mendham [1st, Group 3]
16:48 … Christian Brothers Academy [1st Parochial A]
16:49 … Kingsway [1st, Group 4]
16:49 … Cherokee [3rd, Group 4]
16:52 … Westfield [2nd, Group 4]

Cherokee has now placed in the top 5 at states in 17 of the last 31 years. The Chiefs have advanced to states 30 of the last 31 year. They were sixth at sectionals in 2012. Here’s their year-by-year finish at states:

1986 – 9th
1987 – 12nd
1988 – 2nd
1989 – 2nd
1997 – 1st
1998 – 1st
1999 – 1st
2000 – 1st
2001 – 2nd
2002 – 3rd
2003 – 4th
2004 – 3rd
2005 – 4th
2006 – 5th
2007 – 1st
2008 – 2nd
2009 – 13th
2010 – 13th
2011 – 10th
2012 – DNR
2013 – 12th
2014 – 8th
2015 – 3rd
2016 – 2nd
2017 – 7th
2018 – 3rd

In the Group 2 boys race? It’s … Haddonfield, of course!!!!! FOR THE 17TH TIME!!!!!

Haddonfield’s big three of juniors Greg Eisenhower and Martin Riddell and senior Derek Gess all finished in the top 10, and Haddonfield cruised to its 17th state XC title Saturday at Holmdel County Park.

Haddonfield won its second in a row and ninth in the last 13 years, outscoring second-place Voorhees 42-75 to win the state Group 1 title.

With the Holmdel course running very slow a day after torrential rain and flooding, Haddonfield averaged 16:51 on the historic hilly layout in Monmouth County.

Eisenhower was fourth overall in 16:30, Riddell sixth in 16:32 and Gess ninth in 16:48 for the Bulldogs.

They were backed up by junior Andrew Gostovich in 14th in 17:07 and senior Griffin Weiner in 17th in 17:20. Gostovich and Weiner were 12th and 14th in team scoring. Junior Grayson Fasolo was Haddonfield’s sixth runner in 23rd in 17:28, which put him ahead of every other team’s fifth runner and every team other than Voorhees’s second runner. Senior Sean Campiglia was Haddonfield’s seventh running, covering the Holmdel course in 18:02 for 38th place.

Haddonfield has the third-most state titles in state history and most in South Jersey history. Only two legendary programs, Christian Brothers of Lincroft with 28 and Bernards with 23, have won more.

Haddonfield’s first title came in Group 2 in 1978. The Bulldogs also won Group 2 in 1980, then moved to Group 1 and won four titles between 1985 and 1990. Back in Group 2, the Bulldogs have won titles in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018.

With 5 finishers in top 30, Haddon Township boys roll to 12TH state XC title!!!!!

Haddon Township showed why XC is the ultimate team sport Saturday, winning the state Group 1 XC championship despite no finishers in the top 10!

Township placed all five of its scorers between 12th and 34th — between 12th and 26th for team-scoring purposes — and rolled to an 80-126 win over Hasbrouck Heights at Holmdel County Park.

The title was the 12th for Haddon Township, fifth-most of all New Jersey high schools in meet history and second-most among South Jersey schools behind neighboring Haddonfield.

Junior Jake Aylmer, senior Liam Duffy and freshman Luke Overbrook gave Township three in the top 20, with Aylmer running 17:19 for 12th, Duffy 17:27 for 16th and Overbeck 17:29 for 18th.

Sophomore Matt Conway [31st in 17:59] and senior Noah Dinnerman [34th in 18:08] rounded out Township’s scoring quintet. Senior Josh Potter and junior Ian McCauley also raced for the Hawks.

Township’s 49-second gap from one to five was smallest in the race.

Haddon Township began its run of state titles 50 years ago with the Group 3 title. The Hawks won Group 2 in 1971, 1972 and 1976 under legendary Al Tanner and added 1986 in Group 2 before moving to Group 1 and finishing first in 1988.

After a 20-year drought, Township has dominated Group 1 over the past decade, winning state titles in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and now 2018.

Pitman’s Sebastien Reid was the overall winner in 16:18. More on him later, but Reid is Pitman’s first overall winner in 27 years — since Kevin Schilling in 1991.

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.