Nikki Clifford was the fastest runner from three class races and led Cherokee to the fastest average time of the day at the Battle @ Ocean County Park on Friday.
Clifford covered the 5,000-meter course in Lakewood in 18:30, her fastest time ever for any 5K cross country course. Her previous best was an 18:57 at the 2019 Burlington County Open at Mill Creek Park in Willingboro.
Cherokee, ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 1 in South Jersey, had three of the eight-fastest runners in the three class races. Olivia Parkinson won the sophomore race in 18:57, and Kelsey Niglio ran 19:11 for fourth in the junior race.
Kerry O’Day and Emma Parkinson placed fourth and fifth in the sophomore race in 20:25 and 20:37, which means Cherokee’s five scorers all placed in the top 10 in their races.
Senior Noelle Falzone (21:00) and sophomore Alaina Bromley (21:27) also ran sub-21:30 in their races.
Megan Niglio was sixth in the freshman race, which was contested over 3,200 meters. She ran 13:21.
There was no team scoring kept, but in a team merge Middletown South – ranked No. 3 in the state – edged Cherokee by eight points, 77-85, although Cherokee had the fastest average time of the day with its 19:32 average. Middletown South’s top five averaged 19:36.
Also under 20 minutes were Shawnee junior Kate Ruona [19:22 for fifth in the junior race], Cherry Hill East’s Madison McNiff [19:45 for sixth in the senior race]. Cherry Hill East senior Kiley Walsh [19:52 for 9th in the senior race].
Other South Jersey times under 21 minutes: Shawnee senior Kyra Birdsall [20:07], Shawnee senior Madelyn Valasek [20:08], Washington Township junior Allyson Wernik [20:21], Washington Township junior Sophia Bostwick [20:33], Shawnee junior Sydney Kiernan [20:36], Cherry Hill East junior Alexis Tepper [20:41] and Cherry Hill East senior Chloe Diamond [20:49].