With senior Nicole Clifford and sophomore Olivia Parkinson both running sub-19, Cherokee won the Olympic Conference girls XC title Wednesday with the fastest team time in DREAM Park course history.
Clifford was the overall winner, covering the 5,000-meter course in Logan Township in 18:24, Parkinson ran 18:48 for second, and Cherokee’s five scorers averaged 19:19.
That broke the course record of 19:29 set by Haddonfield at last year’s South Jersey Group 2 meet.
Cherokee went 1-2-8-9-13, outscoring Cherry Hill East 33-51 for its second straight team title. Cherokee also won in 2004, 2009 and 2010.
Clifford’s time is No. 3 in course history, behind only Isabella Turner’s course-record 17:52 for Shawnee at the 2018 South Jersey Shootout and Kate Rathman’s 18:22 for Cherokee at the 2018 Olympic Conference Championships.
Junior Kelsey Niglio and sophomore Kerry O’Day ran 8th and 9th for the Chiefs in 19:33 and 19:36, and freshman Megan Niglio was Cherokee’s fifth finisher in 20:17. The times were all-course 5K PRs for Clifford, Parkinson, O’Day and Megan Niglio.
Cherokee is ranked 5th in the state and No. 2 in South Jersey, behind Haddonfield, who is No. 3 in the state rankings. Cherry Hill East is No. 6 in South Jersey.
Eastern senior Sophia Staiger placed third in 19:17 and three Cherry Hill East runners were next across the line – senior Madison McNiff in 19:17, junior Alexis Tepper in 19:18 and freshman Kiley Walsh in 19:31. Paul VI sophomore Shaelan McNally [7th in 19:31] and Camden Catholic junior Casey Bednarek [10th in 19:41] rounded out the top 10. Tepper won the race last year but ran 19 seconds faster this year.
Also running sub-20 were Bishop Eustace junior Arianna Cane [19:43] and Camden Catholic freshman Nilaa Ponnappan [19:51].
Here’s a look at the all-time top-10 team times (I think) in the brief history of DREAM Park:
19:19 … Cherokee, 2021 [Olympic Conference Championships]
19:29 … Haddonfield, 2020 [South Jersey Group 2]
19:46 … Cherry Hill East, 2019 [Olympic Conference Championships]
19:48 … Cherokee, 2019 [Olympic Conference Championships]
19:52 … Shawnee, 2019 [Olympic Conference Championships]
19:57 … Cherry Hill East, 2021 [Olympic Conference Championships]
20:09 … Cherokee, 2020 [Olympic Conference Championships 20:15 … Cherry Hill East, 2018 [Olympic Conference Championships]
20:15 … Cherokee, 2020 [South Jersey Group 4]
21:17 … Shawnee, 2021 [Olympic Conference]