Senior Patrick Ditmars and junior Nick Kuenkel finished 2nd and 4th and led Cherokee to 3rd place in the 50th annual Meet of Champions Saturday at Holmdel County Park.
Ditmars ran 15:39 and Kuenkel 15:41, the fastest and 3rd-fastest times ever by Cherokee runners at Holmdel. Shawn Wilson ran 15:40 at the 2012 state Group 4 meet. Their times are No. 8 and 14 in South Jersey history at Holmdel.
Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft won the team title with 44 points, and Union Catholic scored 98 to 106 for Cherokee.
This was Cherokee’s 17th top-10 finish at the Meet of Champions in the last 25 meets and the Chiefs’ best finish since the 2000 team placed 2nd to CBA. Cherokee also finished in the top 3 in 1997 and 1999 (3rd) and 1998 and 2000 (2nd).
Ditmars and Kuenkel scored one and three team points. Senior Connor Jacob ran 16:25 for 21st overall (13 team points) and junior Robert Poplau ran 16:39 for 31st (19th). Sophomore Liam Tindall was Cherokee’s 5th man in 126th (70th) in 17:58, followed closely by sophomore Anthony DiBatista (130th, 74th) in 18:04 and senior Daniel Hassall (133rd, 76th) in 18:13.
This is the first time two runners from the same South Jersey school have ever placed in the top four in a Meet of Champions race. The closest previously was in 2001, when Chris Platt of Haddonfield was 2nd and teammate Skip Stiles was 5th (and Breton Bonnette was 6th).
In 1988, Urie Ridgeway of Bridgeton and teammate Lance Hess placed 3rd and 6th, and in 1994, John Williams and Joe DiGiacomo of Paul VI placed 2nd and 6th.
Cherokee averaged 16:28 on the challenging 5,000-meter Holmdel County Park course, 2nd-fastest of the day behind CBA’s 16:07. That 16:28.40 is 8th-fastest ever by a South Jersey school at Holmdel and Cherokee’s fastest time, a bit faster than their 16:30.72 at the 2019 Meet of Champions.
More on him soon, but Haddonfield’s George Andrus placed 2nd overall in 15:40, and the Bulldogs placed 6th in team scoring with 183 points.
This is the 5th straight year Haddonfield has placed 6th or better at the Meet of Champions – six straight years if you include the 2020 Holmdel Invitational, which was an unofficial Meet of Champions held on the same course after the MoC was cancelled because of COVID.
In all, Haddonfield has placed among the top-6 in the Meet of Champions 16 times and in the top 10 a total of 18 times.
Cinnaminson placed 12th led by senior Alex Boyko in 47th (30th) in 16:48 and senior Matt McCarron 67th (39th) in 17:01. That’s Cinnaminson’s 5th top-12 finish in the M-of-C. The 1989 team was 7th, 1990 was 10th and the 2002 team placed 5th. The Pirates were also 12th in 1986.