Even without their top runner, Cherokee boys win Cherokee Challenge team title!!!

An auspicious start for the Cherokee Chiefs, who had the lowest team score at the Cherokee Challenge even without their No. 1 runner.

While Ethan Wechsler was off on a recruiting trip, his teammates won the boys team title at the 24th annual Cherokee Challenge on their home course, edging West Windsor-Plainsboro North by eight points.

Wechler, fourth in the Meet of Champions last year and the No. 2 returner, was visiting Duke over the weekend, but his teammates picked up the slack in the annual season-opening series of class races.

Cherokee had four of the top 18 runners overall and in the MileSplit merge finished with a 108-116 win over West Windsor Plainsboro North.

Cherokee went 4-9 in the senior race, with Tyler Jackson running 10:02 over the 3,200-meter course on the Cherokee grounds and Chase Miller two seconds back in ninth in 10:04, and the Chiefs went 4-5 in the junior race, with Brett Shea and Nico Grilli running 10:06 and 10:07.

Overall, Jackson, Miller, Shea and Grilli finished 5-12-17-18. Cherokee’s fifth runner was Michael Gavio, who ran 10:28 for 27th in the senior race.

Jackson had the fastest time among South Jersey runners, Miller was fourth and Shea and Grill were seventh and eighth.

Cherokee became the first South Jersey school since Ocean City in 2010 to win the boys team championship. This is the first time since team scores were first kept in 2004 that Cherokee won the title.

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