Nikki Clifford leads Cherokee to fastest average time at Battle @ Ocean County Park!!!

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].

Another invitational win for Northern Burlington’s Liliah Gordon at Ocean County Park freshman race!!!

Northern Burlington’s Liliah Gordon recorded her second straight invitational win Saturday when she won the freshman race at the Battle @ Ocean County Park.

Gordon covered the 3,200-meter course in Lakewood in 12:12, finishing about 115 meters ahead of second-place Logan Rettino of Rumson-Fair Haven, who ran 12:39.

Gordon’s time is fastest by a South Jersey runner over the 3,200-meter course at Ocean County Park since Grace Yoon of Cherry Hill East ran 11:59 to win the 2016 freshman race. 

A week earlier, in her high school XC debut, Gordon won the freshman race at the Cherokee Challenge in Marlton. 

Gordon has yet to race over 5,000 meters in an official high school race and won’t get that opportunity until the Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel County Park a week from Saturday.

This Saturday, Gordon will race over 2 1/2 miles in the freshman race at the Thompson Park Class Meet in Jamesburg.

Overall winner Seth Clevenger leads Haddonfield to Briarwood Challenge title!!!

Seth Clevenger was the overall winner and Haddonfield placed three runners in the top seven to win the team Challenge Boys team title Saturday at the Briarwood Invitational.

Clevenger covered the challenging 5,000-meter at Belmont Plateau in 16:41, winning by 225 meters over second-place Quinn O’Dell of Delaware Military Academy in Wilmington, Del., who ran 17:26.

There were more than 100 runners in the race.

It was the first XC invitational title for Clevenger, who did not run cross country last fall. As a sophomore, he placed 11th at Group 2 states and 48th in the Meet of Champions.

Clevenger’s time was third-fastest of the two boys races. Delsea’s Andrew Littlehales ran 16:12 and Drew Brill of LaSalle High in Springfield, Montgomery County, ran 16:29, both in the Championship Race.

Junior Ian Romea and senior Andrew Sullivan placed 5th and 7th for Haddonfield, Romea in 17:43 and Sullivan in 18:05. Sophomores Matt Sullivan [17th in 18:40] and soph Liam Dougherty [20th in 18:47] were the top 10th-graders in the race.

Haddonfield, ranked No. 5 in New Jersey, outscored second-place Holy Ghost Prep of Bensalem, Pa., 46-91, to win the team title. 

Also, Paul VI junior Joseph Wigginton placed 15th in 18:37.

In a team merge including both the Challenge and Championship races, Haddonfield placed fourth with 174 points, behind La Salle (44), Methcaton High of Eagleville, Worcester Township, Montgomery County (119) and Central Bucks West of Doylestown, Bucks County (169).

Patrick Ditmars, Nick Kuenkel win class races and Cherokee averages 16:23 at Battle @ Ocean County Park!!!

Cherokee’s Patrick Ditmars won the junior race and Nick Kuenkel won the sophomore race Saturday at the Battle @ Ocean County Park 2021.

It doesn’t appear team scoring was kept, but Cherokee runners produced five of the top 33 times (and six of the top 43). Scored unofficially, Ridge outscored Cherokee 73-109. Ridge is ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and No. 5 nationally. Cherokee is No. 7 in New Jersey.

Cherokee’s top five runners averaged 16:23 on the 5,000-meter course in Lakewood.

Ditmars ran 15:54 and won the junior race by 65 meters over Brian Theobald of St. Rose in Belmar, who was second in 16:07. 

Kuenkel ran 16:13 to win the sophomore race by 100 meters over Stephen Kyvelos of Manalapan, who was second in 16:32.

Also for Cherokee, Conor Jacob ran 16:33 for 9th place in the junior race and Robert Poplau ran 16:52 for fifth in the sophomore race. Bradley Popler (16:37) and Joseph Natoli (16:42) placed 18th and 19th in the senior race.  

Schalick grad Samuel Gerstenbacher, Camden Catholic’s Kevin McDonnell lead S.J. contingent with top-20 finishes at Philly Distance Run!!!

Schalick graduate Samuel Gerstenbacher and Camden Catholic grad Kevin McDonnell both finished in the top 20 among over 1,000 runners in the Philadelphia Distance Run Sunday.

Gerstenbacher, who graduated from Elizabethtown this past spring, placed 14th in 1:07.45, a 5:11 pace over 13.1 miles, and McDonnell, a 2013 graduate of St. Joe’s, ran 1:09.02, a 5:16 per-mile pace.

The 23-year-old Gerstenbacher, a native of Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, now living in Lancaster, Pa., placed seventh out of over 100 runners in the 18-to-25 age group.

The 31-year-old McDonnell, a Moorestown native now living in Cherry Hill, placed ninth of nearly 300 runners in the 31-to-35 age group.

Eric Reitinger, who graduated from Shawnee in 2002 and now lives in Mt. Laurel, placed 27th in 1:10.33. Reitinger, now 37, ran 6th of nearly 300 runners in the 36-to-40 division.

Sterling graduate Jimmy Daniels, who also ran at St. Joe’s, ran 1:11.08 for 31st. 

Delsea’s Andrew Littlehales wins Briarwood with all-time S.J. #2 time at Belmont Plateau!!!

Delsea senior Andrew Littlehales recorded his second straight invitational win Saturday when he placed first in the Briarwood Invitational at Belmont Plateau.

Littlehales, who won the senior race at the Cherokee Challenge in 9:46 over 3,200 meters last weekend, ran 16:12 over 5,000 meters at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park this Saturday.

Littlehales outraced junior Drew Brill of LaSalle College High School in Springfield Township. Montgomery County, by 85 meters. Brill was second in 16:29.

The 16:12 on a challenging Belmont Plateau layout is a 5,000-meter PR for Littlehales on any course. His previous 5,.000 PR was 16:13 as a sophomore at the Tri-County Showcase on a much faster course at Cumberland Regional in October of 2019.

Littlehales’ time equals the 5th-fastest ever by a New Jersey runner at Briarwood and is fastest since 2012, when Connor Herr of Shawnee ran 16:09 and his teammate Peter Murray ran 16:12. Herr’s 16:09 stands as the South Jersey record at Briarwood.

Littlehales ran in the so-called “Championship Race.” Haddonfield’s Seth Clevenger won the “Challenge Race” in 16:41 and led the Bulldogs to the team title. More on that race soon!

Shawnee’s Jack Ennis places 4th, leading TCNJ to team title and pacing 6 S.J. runners in top 20 at Moravian

Shawnee graduate Jack Ennis placed 4th out of nearly 100 runners Saturday, leading six South Jersey runners among the top 16 finishers at the Moravian Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa.

Ennis, a junior at The College of New Jersey, ran 19:20 over 6,000 meters, finishing just 17 seconds behind overall winner Shane Houghton of Moravian, who ran 19:03.

Here’s a look at the rest of the large South Jersey contingent among the lead group at Moravian:

Aidan Groff: A St. Joe’s freshman from Washington Township, Groff ran 19:31 for 8th place. He was St. Joe’s No. 2 runner.

Chase Miller: A freshman at TCNJ from Cherokee, Miller placed 10th in 19:38 and was TCNJ’s fourth finisher.

Liam Duffy: A Moravian freshman from Haddon Township, Duffy finished a second behind Miller in 19:39. He was the No. 2 runner from the host Greyhounds. 

Pat Mulligan: Another former Haddon Township runner, Mulligan is a junior at TCNJ. He ran 19:52 for 14th place.

Noah Deckert: Deckert, a St. Joe’s sophomore from Delsea, placed 16th overall in 19:54.

The College of New Jersey packed its five scorers in 31 seconds and won the team title, 34-64, over Moravian, which edged St. Joe’s 64-66 for second place.

Clearview’s Abby Waddington runs #5 time in DREAM Park history at S.J. Shootout!!!

Abby Waddington continued the hot start to her cross country season Saturday by running the 5th-fastest time in DREAM Park history.

The Clearview junior ran 18:38 over the 5,000-meter course in Logan Township, Gloucester County, and won the “Stud Race” in the South Jersey Shootout by over 400 meters.

Williamstown’s Alex Fisher placed second in 20:22, which was the second-fastest time from among the three races (Stud Race, 3-4 race and 5-6-7 race).

Waddington, who won the junior race at the Cherokee Challenge last weekend, ran a lifetime 5,000-meter PR for any course. Her previous best was 19:33 in a batch meet at Cumberland Regional in Upper Deerfield Township on Tuesday.

The only faster times in course history were run by Shawnee’s Isabella Turner (17:52 at 2018 South Jersey Shootout), Cherokee’s Kate Rathman (18:22 at 2018 Olympic Conference meet), Shawnee’s Kate Ruona (18:29 at 2020 Olympic Conference meet) and Haddonfield’s Sarah Naticchia (18:37 at 2020 Group 2 sectionals).

Overall winner Helene Usher leads Haddonfield girls to Briarwood team title!!!

Looks like there’s life for Haddonfield after Sarah Naticchia, Payton Weiner and Allison and Lindsay Colflesh.

No surprise there. This program does not take years off. The Lady Bulldogs have won 11 straight sectional titles and 15 of the last 16.

A year after Haddonfield graduated four of its most accomplished runners ever, Haddonfield on Saturday participated in its first invitational of the 2021 cross country season and easily won the “Challenge Race” at the Briarwood Invitational.

Junior Helene Usher was the overall winner in 20:28 over 5,000 meters at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, and Haddonfield placed all five scorers in the top 12 to outscore Lawrenceville School 24-45.

Usher won by 25 meters over Alli Delisi, a freshman at Penn Charter, who was second in 20:34.

For Haddonfield, junior Sabrina Miller placed third in 20:48, sophomore Anne Earp was fourth in 20:49, sophomore Ava Thomas placed 7th in 21:16 and senior Jess Goode ran 22:08 for 12th.

Haddonfield averaged 21:06 for its five scorers. There was also something called a “Championship Race,” and Mount St. Joseph Academy of Springfield Township, Montgomery County, averaged 20:50 to win that. Haddonfield’s average was second-fastest among both races.

Haddonfield sophomore Riley Slootsky won the JV race by 175 meters in 22:01, a time that would have placed her 12th in the Challenge race.

Woodbury’s Peyton Shute shatters DREAM Park sophomore class record in S.J. Shootout triumph!!!

Peyton Shute became the sixth runner – and second member of his family – to break 16 minutes on the DREAM Park 5,000-meter course Saturday when he won the Stud Race at the South Jersey Shootout in 15:58.

Shute, a Woodbury sophomore who runs for Woodbury-Gateway Co-Op, won by 250 meters over Rancocas Valley senior Andre Faigal, who placed second in 16:45.

Shute’s time breaks the sophomore class record of 16:15 at DREAM Park in Logan Township set last year by Haddonfield’s George Andrus at Group 2 sectionals.

Cherokee’s Ethan Wechsler set the course record of 15:12 at the 2019 Olympic Conference Championships, and Bishop Eustace’s Connor Melko ran 15:52 at the 2018 Olympic Conference meet. Peyton’s older brother, Brady Shute, ran 15:53, at the 2019 South Jersey Shootout, so he still holds the family record for now.

The other sub-16 runners at DREAM Park are Oliver Adler of Cherry Hill East, who ran 15:54 at the 2019 Olympic Conference meet, and Highland’s Cole Wassell, who ran 15:55 last year at the South Jersey Shootout.

The course has been in use since 2018.

Shute’s previous best time at DREAM Park was a 17:04 at last year’s Group 1 sectionals, when he placed 11th. That’s the No. 2 freshman time in course history, behind Conor Jacob’s 17:02 for Cherokee in 2019. Shute’s previous all-course PR for 5,000 meter was 16:34 last fall at Ocean County Park in Lakewood.

In addition to Shute and Faigal, Williamstown senior Nicholas Krol also ran sub-17 Saturday, taking third in the Stud Race in 16:51.

The South Jersey Shootout is scored out of three races – one for teams’ 5-6-7 runners, one for the 3-4 runners and one for the 1-2 runners.

We’ll have more later on the team race, but Haddon Township won the boys team title 27-29 over Williamstown.