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.

Cherokee grad Jack Shea races as 6th man for top-ranked Northern Arizona at NCAA Regionals!!!!!

Jack Shea, a Northern Arizona red-shirt freshman from Cherokee High, was sixth man Friday as the Lumberjacks won the NCAA Division 1 Mountain Region XC Championships in Provo, Utah.

Northern Arizona, ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division 1, outscored No. 2 Brigham Young 42-56 to win the regional title. No. 8 Colorado was third with 71 points in the most competitive region in the country, with five of the nation’s top 15 teams in the field.

Shea placed 41st overall and was the second-fastest sixth man, behind BYU junior Jacob Heslington. Shea covered the 10,000-meter course at East Bay Golf Course in 30:25, an average of 4:54 per mile.

Northern Arizona went 2-3-7-14-16 to win the team title.

Shea was the seventh freshman across the line. NAU’s lineup included four seniors, two sophomores and Shea.

At Cherokee, Shea was the 2016 South Jersey Group 4 champ in XC  and placed sixth in the Meet of Champions in 15:58.

On Friday, he ran faster per mile than he ever ran in any 5,000-meter run in high school.

As one of the top two teams in team scoring in one of the nine regional meets Friday, NAU earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. Thirteen other teams will be added as at-large entries.

Nationals are scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Thomas Zimmer Champion Course in Madison, Wisc., on the campus of the University of Wiscosin.

Camden Catholic boys edge Paul VI to win first Kiessling championship in school history!!!!!

A year ago, Richie Castañeda edged Connor Melko of Eustace to win the individual race at the Bob Kiessling meet, but Bishop Eustace won the team title by four points over Camden Catholic.

This year, Melko edged Castañeda for the individual win, but Camden Catholic won the team title.

So Melko and Castañeda, two of South Jersey’s top seniors, now each have an individual win and a team title.

Castañeda edged Melko by seven seconds to win the 2017 individual race, but Eustace won the team title by four points.

On Saturday, Melko finished 26 seconds ahead of Castañeda, but Camden Catholic outraced Paul VI and Eustace for its first title in meet history.

Camden Catholic’s 35-36 win over PVI was the first at the Kiessling meet in school history, after four second-place finishes. Eustace finished third with 64 points.

Castañeda led six Fighting Irish runners in the top 13, and that sixth runner — senior Max Baier — was huge, because he finished two spots ahead of Paul VI’s fifth runner, which made the difference in the final team score.

Through four runners, Paul VI led 21-23.

Castañeda ran 16:21 over Delsea’s flat 5,000-meter course, senior Matt Coffey was fifth in 16:41, senior Ray Derman placed seventh in 16:46, senior Denny Kelly was ninth in 17:04 and junior Matthew Denton and Baier ran 17:15 and 17:23 for 12th and 13th.

Camden Catholic was second to Holy Cross in 1979 [39-52], Paul in 1987 [15-52], Moorestown Friends in 2007 [46-86] and Eustace last year [37-41.

Senior Matthew Slattery [4th in 16:28], senior Ryan Tenerelli [5th in 16:38], junior Colton Johnson [6th in 16:42], senior Tyler Gargano [8th in 16:50] and senior Ben Jennings [16th in 17:28] scored for Paul VI.

Also in the top 10 was sophomore Mark Johnson of Moorestown Friends [10th in 17:06].

Shawnee alum Mark Miller has strong race at Great Midwest XC Championships!!!!!

Shawnee graduate Mark Miller, a sophomore at Hillsdale, placed 16th in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference XC championships over the weekend.

Miller was Hillsdale’s third runner, covering the 8,000-meter course at Glenoak High School in Canton, Ohio, in 27:21, only 43 seconds behind overall winner George McCartney of Malone, the host school.

Hillsdale, located in southern Michigan, placed fourth overall out of 13 schools with 89 points, behind Malone (48), Walsh (51) and Cedarville (58).

Miller placed sixth at Group 4 sectionals in XC as a senior at Shawnee. He was runner-up in the 1,600 at Group 4 track sectionals and states in 4:18 and change and finished 10th at the Meet of Champions in 4:17.71.

Miller and Hillsdale will race at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional on the Chargers’ home course at Hayden Park on Nov. 17.

Eustace’s Connor Melko runs sub-16 to win Kiessling race at Delsea!!!!!

Connor Melko torched the Delsea XC course in 15:55 Saturday to win the Bob Kiessling non-public race held on conjunction with sectionals.

The Bishop Eustace senior ran faster than 527 of the 529 runners in the four sectional races. Only two juniors – Group 4 winner Ethan Wechsler of Cherokee [15:45] and Group 2 winner Martin Riddell of Haddonfield [15:54] – ran faster than Melko.

Melko’s time is second-fastest in the Knights of Columbus / Kiessling race since sectionals and the parochial meet moved to Franklinville in 2002.

The only  faster time is Kyle Kirk’s 15:51 for Camden Catholic in 2012.

Camden Catholic’s Richie Castañeda placed second in 16:21, with Paul VI’s Matt Slattery third in 16:28.

Melko is the sixth Eustace runner to win the Kiessling race over the years, following Mike McGowan in 1995, Ryan Perazzelli in 1999, Matt Hellwarth in 2000, Eric Franklin in 2011 and Nick Hutchison in 2015 and 2016.

Camden Catholic won the team title by one point over Paul VI. More on that incredible team battle soon!

Cinnaminson graduate Mike Ungvarsky records top-10 finish for Duke at Hokie Invitational

Cinnaminson graduate Mike Ungvarsky, a Duke sophomore, placed eighth in the Hokie Invitational Saturday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Ungvarsky covered the extremely muddy 6,000-meter Buford Meredith XC course course in 19:20, finishing seven seconds behind teammate Carter Dillon. Duke sent its top runners who won’t be competing in the NCAA Southeast Regional on Friday to Virginia Tech.

Ungvarsky isn’t in Duke’s top seven yet but he’s been one of Duke’s top guys in the next group this fall. This was his second straight top-10 finish for the Blue Devils.

At Cinnaminson, Ungvarsky was the state Group 2 XC champ in 2016.

This was Ungvarsky’s final XC race of the fall.

Led by Briana Hagerty, Pitman girls edge Haddon Township in historic S.J. Group 1 XC battle

Senior Briana Hagerty placed second overall, leading four Pitman runners in the top seven as the Panthers won their second straight South Jersey Group 1 title Saturday at Delsea.

Hagerty ran 20:01, finishing two steps behind Schalick sophomore Julia Smith, who won the race in 19:59.

Seniors Grace Stiles and Abby McCully and junior Sarah Brennan took fifth, sixth and seventh for Pitman in 20:59, 21:10 and 21:17.

Soph Nicole Murphy placed 17th to complete Pitman’s scoring and provide the difference in a two-point win over Haddon Township.

Pitman finished with a 36-38 win. Township’s 38 points are the lowest non-winning score in the S.J.-1 meet since 1976, when St. Joe’s of Toms River edged Gloucester Catholic, 25-33.

The team title is Pitman’s ninth, all since 2005. The Panthers also won South Jersey Group 1 in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and last year.

Haddon Township ran well enough to win most years with a lineup of three freshmen and two juniors. Township had all five runners in the top 12, led by freshman Reagan Shemeley (20:34) and junior Jane Gerber (20:48) in third and fourth.

Junior Darby Williamson placed eighth for Township (21:22) and freshmen Kaelin Marshall and Georgia Knorr were 11th and 12th, both also under 22 minutes.

Also in the top 10 were Buena junior Hailey Carano (9th in 21:30) and Schalick sophomore Chloe Gerstenbacher (10th in 21:38).