Northern Burlington freshman Liliah Gordon runs fastest time of day at Cherokee Challenge!!!

Northern Burlington freshman Liliah Gordon opened her high school cross country career by posting the fastest time of the four class races Saturday at the 25th annual Cherokee Challenge.

Gordon ran 11:42 to win the 3,200-meter freshman race by about 100 meters over Mainland Regional’s Sofia Day, who ran 12:00.

Gordon’s time is fastest by a freshman at the Cherokee Challenge since Haddonfield’s Briana Gess ran 10:55 in 2013 and it’s 7th-fastest ever by a freshman in the Cherokee Challenge.

Gordon is no newcomer to high-level racing. The Chesterfield resident ran 5:18.06 for a full mile as an 8th-grader last year and finished 4th in the New Jersey Middle School XC Championships in the fall of 2019 as a 7th-grader. Last year, she placed 5th over 4,000 meters in the AAU National Cross Country Championships.

Here’s a look at the fastest freshman times in meet history. Three Olympians on this list, which is pretty wild!

10:55 … Briana Gess [Haddonfield], 2013
11:18 … Aislinn Devlin [Downington West], 2013
11:28 … Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], 1997
11:31 … Haley Pierce [Tatnall], 2008
11:36 … Chelsea Ley [Kingsway], 2006
11:38 … Vanessa Wright [Haddonfield], 2002
11:42 … Liliah Gordon [Northern Burlington], 2021
11:43 … Ajee Wilson [Neptune], 2008
11:45 … Elizabeth Edwards [Unionville], 2013
11:45 … Caroline Kellner [West Windsor-Plains. South], 2008
11:47 … Kate Hastings [Tatnall], 2010
11:47 … Natalie Ocasio [Lenape], 2009
11:48 … Marielle Hall [Haddonfield], 2006
11:49 … Catie Skinner [Penn Charter], 2009

Gordon is the third Northern Burlington girl to place in the top three in any girls race at the Cherokee Challenge.

In 1996, the first year the meet was held, Meghan Spence placed second in the sophomore race, and in 2003, Suzanne Bumbera took third in the freshman race.

The only other times a freshman posted the fastest time of the day were 1997, when Haddonfield’s Erin Donohue ran 11:28; 2002, when Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield ran 11:38; and 2013, when Haddonfield’s Briana Gess ran 10:55.

Cherokee’s Nick Kuenkel runs 2nd-fastest time ever in Cherokee Challenge Sophomore race!!!!!

Cherokee’s Nick Kuenkel ran the second-fastest time in the meet’s 25-year history Saturday, winning the 3,200-meter sophomore race at the Cherokee Challenge in 9:49.

Kuenkel edged Peyton Shute of Gateway/Woodbury Co-Op by six seconds in the first sophomore race in meet history where two runners dipped under 10 minutes.

Racing in perfect conditions, Kuenkel missed the sophomore race course record of 9:48 by one second. That was set in 2012 by Steve Garrett of Tatnall School in Wilmington, Del.

Here’s a look at the top-10 sophomore times in meet history:

9:48 … Steve Garrett [Tatnall School], 2012
9:49 … Nick Kuenkel [Cherokee], 2021
9:55 … Peyton Shute [Woodbury/Gateway], 2021
9:55 … Matt Nelson [Barnegat], 2010
9:56 … Mike Vitez [Haddonfield], 2007
9:59 … Zach Michon [Robbinsviolle], 2013
9:59 … Chris Spisak [Cherokee], 2017
10:00 … Dave Forward [Shawnee], 2007
10:00 … Marc Pelerin [Cherokee], 1999
10:02 … Sebastien Reed [Pitman], 2017

Other South Jersey runners in the top 10 in the boys sophomore race were Ethan Mitnick of Mainland [4th in 10:37], Owen Karsch of Eastern [8th in 10:46] and Robert Poplau of Cherokee [10:47 for 10th].

R.V. GRAD ERIKA KEMP WINS U.S. 20,000-METER NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!

Erika Kemp won her second national title Monday morning when she out-raced the field at the USATF 20K Championships in New Haven.

Kemp, a 2013 Rancocas Valley graduate, was part of a breakaway group of four runners that also included Emily Durgin, Lindsay Flanagan and Makena Morley halfway through the 12.4-mile race.

Flanagan eventually dropped off the pace, and with two miles to go, Kemp pulled away from Durgin and Morley and won by more than half a minute over Morley.

Kemp ran 1:06.20 over the road course through the streets of New Haven, and Morley was second in 1:6.59.

Because it’s web site is the worst site on the planet, the USATF does not have full results available of one of its own national championship events. Inexcusable.

Kemp earned $9,000 for her first-place finish.

The race was Kemp’s first race since the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she raced both the 5,000 and 10,000.

Kemp’s time is No. 39 on the all-time world 20,000-meter road course performance list on the World Athletics web site and No. 5 in U.S. history.

Kemp’s previous U.S. title came at 15,000 meters in Jacksonville in 2019, where she ran 50:54.

She actually ran faster for 20,000 meters today than she did for 15,000 meters two years ago.

Her mile pace for 9.3 miles in Jacksonville was 5:27.7, and her mile pace for 12.4 miles in New Haven was 5:20.3.

Kemp ran a track 5,000 PR of 15:10.10 this year in Attleboro, Mass., which ranks No. 14 in the U.S. this year and No. 52 all-time.

She set her 10,000 PR of 31:35.63 last year in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. That ranks No. 35 in U.S. history.

Allison Colflesh opens collegiate career at Maryland with 11th place at St. Mary’s Duals!!!

Haddonfield’s Allison Colflesh, a freshman at Maryland, opened her collegiate XC career with an 11th-place finish at the Mount St. Mary’s University Duals.

Colflesh covered the 5,000-meter course in Emmitsburg, Md., in 19:48 and was Maryland’s second finisher, behind another freshman, Katie Altieri, who took eighth in 19:15.

George Washington swept the top five spots and outscored Maryland 15-61, with Maryland-Baltimore County third (85) and Catholic University of Washington, D.C., fourth (134).

For Catholic, Moorestown graduate Kate Inglis, a freshman, ran 20:59 for 21st place, and freshman Georgia Nussey, Colflesh’s former Haddonfield teammate, placed 39th in 22:36.

DELSEA’S JOSH AWOTUNDE MOVES UP TO #15 IN U.S. HISTORY IN SHOT IN ITALY!!!!!

Delsea graduate Josh Awotunde threw a historic PR of 72-2 in the shot put Saturday in Italy, moving him up from 19th to 15th in U.S. history.

Awotunde, competing for Shore Athletic Conference, became the 15th U.S. thrower in history to reach 22 meters at the 2021 Meeting Città di Padova 2021, which is a World Athletics continental tour bronze level series event. Padova is about 25 miles west of Venice.

https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-continental-tour/calendar-results/7155954/result

His throw is No. 30 in world history.

Awotunde won the event over Italian Zane Weir, who threw 70-11 1/2 for second place.

Awotunde’s previous PR was 71-7 3/4 when he placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., in June. His best throw coming into this year was 69-3 3/4 in April of 2019 in Los Angeles.

His 72-2 would have placed fourth in the Olympic Games in Tokyo last month.

Awotunde’s throw ranks him 6th in the world this year behind five 2021 Olympians, including four finalists.

Full series info for Awotunde was not listed on the World Athletics’ results page. Still working on that!

Highland’s Ben Woodward leads Rider at Temple Invitational!!!

Highland graduate Ben Woodward, a junior at Rider, placed 7th Saturday in the Temple Invitational. He was Rider’s first finisher.

Woodard covered the 8,000-meter course at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia in 27:19, finishing just 17 seconds behind overall winner Christian Fitch of Temple.

“Woodward and the young guys really stepped up today,” Rider coach Bob Hamer said on Rider’s web site. “I’m really excited for Ben. He ran a really solid race today and we will work on building on this performance.”

Also racing for Rider were freshman Dakota Oyuela from Burlington Township, who placed 18th in 18:23 in his collegiate debut; Richie Castaneda of Camden Catholic, 21st in 28:35; and sophomore Gobi Thurairajah of Egg Harbor Township, 25th in 29:05.

Temple scored a perfect 15 points and Rider was second with 52 points.

In the women’s race, Sydney Watts of Chestnut Hill College, a freshman from Kingsway, opened her collegiate career by placing 14th in 25:55 over 6,000 meters.

Cinnaminson’s Mike Ungvarsky 6th in Elon Opener, helps Duke win team title!!!

Cinnaminson graduate Mike Ungvarsky ran 18:17 over 6,000 meters and placed sixth out of more than 100 runners Friday night at the Friday Night Lights Elon Opener at Elon (N.C.) University.

Ungvarsky finished 22 seconds behind overall winner Athanas Kioko of Campbell College. He was Duke’s fifth runner.

Duke outscored East Carolina 20-75 to win the team title.

In the women’s race, Lenape graduate Alexa Woltjen, a senior at North Carolina Wilmington and a transfer from Maryland, ran 15:09 over 4,000 meters to place 37th. 

Kingsway’s Allie Pierontoni takes 8th at Lehigh Invite, helps Monmouth win team title!!!

Monmouth freshman Allie Pierontoni of Kingsway placed 8th Friday afternoon in the season-opening Lehigh Invitational.

Pierontoni ran 22:11 over Lehigh’s 6,000-meter course in Bethlehem (and briefly in Lower Saucon Township). 

She was Monmouth’s third runner, behind overall winner Sammi Ragenklint [21:33] and Mackenzie Jones [22:02].

Monmouth and Princeton both finished with 50 points. Instead of using a 6th-runner tiebreaker [which Princeton would have won], head-to-head matchups were used, and Monmouth won that 3-2. 

Shawnee graduate Kara Bonner, a senior at Lehigh, placed 16th in 22:20, finishing nine seconds behind Pierontoni. Bonner was Lehigh’s fourth runner, helping the Mountainhawks finish a close third with 57 points.

Also racing were Lenape grad and Rutgers sophomore Shelby Whetstone [66th in 25:08] and Ocean City grad Mickey Baker [68th in 25:31].

Lehigh’s Connor Melko of Eustace opens junior year of XC with 5th-place finish at Lehigh Invite!!!

Lehigh’s Connor Melko opened his junior cross country season Friday with a 5th-place finish in a field of 130 at the Lehigh Invitational in Bethlehem.

Melko covered the 6,000-meter course in 18:18, which is 4:54 pace on the hilly, winding, twisting course on Lehigh’s South campus, which is also partially in Lower Saucon Township.

Melko, a Bishop Eustace graduate, was Lehigh’s No. 1 runner on the short version of the Mountainhawks’ home course, which has twice hosted the NCAA Championships.

Lehigh scored 58 points, finishing second to Princeton, which won with 20 points.

Also under 19 minutes was Lower Cape May Regional graduate Will Berger, a junior at Rutgers. He placed 30th in 18:57.

Two Monmouth freshmen from South Jersey opened their careers in this race. Pitman’s Sebastien Reed placed 54th in 19:36 and Cherokee’s Nico Grilli followed eight seconds and four spots back.

Liam Duffy of Haddon Township, a junior at nearby Moravian, placed 65th in 19:55.

Delsea’s Josh Awotunde finishes his best season ever with big throw at Prefontaine Classic!

Delsea graduate Josh Awotunde finished the best season of his life when he placed fifth in the shot put over the weekend at the Profontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

Awotunde threw 69-8 1/2, missing the 70-foot barrier by just 3 1/2 inches. Awotunde reached 70 feet in four meets this year, culminating in a 71-8 when he placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June at the same Hayward Field facility.

That 71-8 ranks No. 44 in world history, 19 in U.S. history and No. 9 in the world this year. It’s the No. 12 throw in U.S. Olympic Trials history.

Pre was Awotunde’s first meet in six weeks, since he competed in three meets in Europe in late June and July, with a best throw 71-2 1/4 at the Gyulai István Memorial Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix at the Bregyó Athletic Center in Székesfehérvár, Hungary.

At Pre, Awotunde opened with a throw of 65-2 1/4 followed by a 65-2 1/2 before his 69-8 1/2. He fouled on his two remaining throws.

Awotunde entered the 2021 season with a lifetime best of 69-3 3/4 from a meet in Los Angeles in April of 2019, so he wound up surpassing that in five meets and on at least eight throws.