What a way to finish the season!
Seniors Sarah Naticchia, Allison Colflesh and Payton Weiner all finished among the top 15 runners to lead top-ranked Haddonfield to a remarkable team victory in the Holmdel Invitational – the unofficial 2020 New Jersey Meet of Champions.
Freshman Anne Earp and sophomore Helene Usher placed 31st and 35th for Haddonfield.
Haddonfield – running as the Haddonfield Running Club – edged No. 2 Ridgewood 52-65, with the margin of victory coming from Usher, who finished 18 places ahead of Ridgewood’s fifth runner.
After four runners, Ridgewood led 27-35.
Naticchia ran a Holmdel PR 18:50 for 7th place, Colflesh was 13th in 19:07 and Weiner 15th in 19:11, also a Holmdel PR. Earp ran 20:05 in her first career race at legendary Holmdel County Park, and Usher ran 20:22 in her first crack at the Holmdel hills. Junior Jess Goode [48th in 20:47] and Lindsay Colflesh [52nd in 20:59] also ran for Haddonfield.
In terms of team scoring, Haddonfield went 3-5-7-17-20.
Haddonfield averaged 19:31, fastest ever by a South Jersey team at Holmdel. The 2013 Haddonfield team held the record with a 19:35 from the 2013 Meet of Champions.
With the victory, Haddonfield finished the 2020 season undefeated and cemented its status as the No. 1 team in New Jersey this year and one of the greatest teams in South Jersey history.
Although the NJSIAA won’t consider this an official Meet of Champions victory, the New Jersey track and cross country community will always consider it an unofficial Meet of Champions team title.
Officially recognized or not, Haddonfield becomes the first South Jersey school to finish the season No. 1 since Shawnee won its fourth Meet of Champions in 2003. The only other South Jersey schools to win the Meet of Champions team title in the meet’s 49-year history is Moorestown in 2001.
Cherokee, despite running without freshman Kerry O’Day, its top finisher at sectionals, still finished 5th overall among the top teams in the state with 144 points, and Cherokee returns its entire lineup next fall (and six of its top seven in 2022).
Incredibly, the quartet of sophomore Kelsey Niglio, freshman Olivia Parkinson, junior Nicole Clifford and freshman Alaina Bromley all finished in order – Niglio in 39th, Parkinson in 40th, Clifford in 41st and Bromley in 42nd. For team scoring purposes, they finished 24th through 27th.
Junior Noelle Falzone [42nd in 21:34], freshman Allison Rathman [43rd in 21:45] and freshman Emma Parkinson [51st in 22:17] also ran for Cherokee.
Collingswood senior Sophie Steidle, running as an individual, was 12th in 19:03, taking 53 seconds off her Holmdel PR of 19:58 from the 2018 Shore Coaches Invite.
Highland sophomore Grace Wassell, also competing as an individual wild card, was 20th in 19:39.