The Cherokee girls staked their claim as one of the greatest cross country teams in state history Saturday with a commanding win at the 14th annual Nike Cross Country Regionals.
Junior Kelsey Miglio and senior Nicole Clifford finished 6th and 7th overall and the Chiefs outscored 2nd-place Ridgewood 67-86 to win the team title at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
Haddonfield scored 102 points for third place and a 1-2-3 New Jersey sweep.
This is the third straight week Cherokee has out-raced Ridgewood, previously ranked No. 1 in the state.
Niglio ran 19:37 and Clifford 19:38, and the Chiefs, coached by Mark Jarvis and assistant Dave Petruzzi, placed all five runners in the top 30 out of more than 120 runners. For team scoring purposes, Cherokee packed its five scorers in the top 22.
Freshman Megan Niglio ran 20:04 for 20th, sophomore Olivia Parkinson 20:30 for 28th and sophomore Kerry O’Day 20:34 for 30th.
At states and the Meet of Champions, Ridgewood led through three runners and Cherokee’s 4th and 5th runners made the difference, but this time Cherokee led 24-31 through three runners. O’Day finished a whopping 13 spots ahead of Ridgewood’s fifth runner.
Cherokee had a 57-second gap from first to fifth.
Sophomore Alaina Bromley and senior Noelle Falzone also raced for Cherokee,
Normally, Cherokee would have earned a spot at Nike Cross Nationals at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Ore., but Nike cancelled the national meet this year.
The Nike series began in 2007. Cherokee is the first South Jersey school and third New Jersey school to win Nike Cross Regionals. Voorhees won in 2010 and North Hunterdon in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The meet wasn’t held last year.
The best previous finish at Nike Regionals by a South Jersey program was Kingsway’s 2nd place in 2017. Kingsway also placed 6th in 2015 and 2016.