The Lenape Regional High School District excelled at the Olympic Conference Cross Country Championships Oct. 13 at Dream Land Park.
Cherokee won its fifth consecutive team title over Cherry Hill East, 21-40, and 13th since the Lenape district joined the Olympic Conference in 1996.
‘It was just our third 5K of the year and we were running with all of our top guys in the race for the first time this year,” said Cherokee coach Steve Shaklee.
Senior Ethan Wechsler successfully defended his conference crown with a winning time of 15:12.
“Ethan got us off to a good start. He took the lead from the gun and set a fast pace which he was able to sustain for the entire 5K. He broke his own course record (set at last year’s Olympic Conference meet) by 29 seconds and won the race by 41 seconds. I’m not positive, but it may be the fastest cross country 5K time in school history.”
Connor Jacobs finished 21st in 17:03, which broke the course freshman record of 17:11 by Northern Burlington’s Daniel Boria set at the South Jersey Shootout two years ago.
Cherokee also had Brett Shea finish 10th and Danny Boria 14th.
“Our 5 man average was 14 seconds faster than last year’s, which bodes well for the upcoming sectionals, states and Meet of Champions,” said Shaklee.
Shawnee placed fourth overall 143 points and first among Olympic Patriot Division teams.
“We were excited to be able to top Timber Creek and win the Olympic Conference Patriot Division title,” said Shawnee coach Gary Hill. “The difference in the race was that Billy Pellegrino and John Ruona we able to claim the two top spots among Patriot Division runners.”
Alex Campagna finished 7th (17:18) in the division, while George Mihaileanu (13th; 17:50) and Dylan Hansen (14th; 17:53) rounded out the scoring places.
Lenape placed sixth out of 15 teams with 184 points.
Senior Matt Richardson placed 11th overall in 16:37 to lead the way for the Indians
“I thought we had a pretty good day, lots of PRs and Matt Richardson finishing in the top 15,” said Lenape coach Gerald Richardson. We’re looking forward to the sectionals (this weekend).
Seneca placed 10th in the conference meet with 288 points. The Golden Eagles were third out of six teams in the Patriot Division.
“The Olympic Conference Championships was a success for the boys. Our top five runners all ran their personal bests at the Dream Park course,” said Seneca coach Matthew Carr.
Seneca was led by junior Dominic Amilcare who came across at 32nd place in 17:22. Junior Kenny Stout was second on the team with a time of 18:23 (67th place).
“The boys are peaking at the right time. They have worked hard in practice, and they know what it takes to run at their full potential on race day. Their level of awareness and preparedness continues to grow,” said Carr.
Cherokee finished second in team standings with 65 points, eight behind champion Cherry Hill East.
“The girls were obviously disappointed that they did not win the conference, but all in all we had some solid races,” said Cherokee coach Mark Jarvis.
“Kate Rathman defended her conference title, winning in 18:27. Nikki Clifford was next across the line for us running 19:43 finishing 9th. Alyssa Blackmon ran 20:34 for 15th (40 seconds faster than she ran last year. Freshman Kelsey Niglio ran her fastest 5k ever crossing the line at 20:11to finish 19th and Jaden Sweely ran 20:34 for 21st (1:23 faster than she ran last year). Kayla McAdams 20:48 for 24th was 1:03 faster than she ran last year. We had 6 in the top 30.
“Of the 12 girls that we had race, eight of them ran lifetime bests for 5000 meters. In the division we had our top five all in the top 15. I told the team afterwards that we got beat by a very good team today. Cherry Hill East has a very tight group for its top 5. This will hopefully get the team focused as we head into sectionals,” said Jarvis.
Shawnee was third behind Cherry Hill East and Cherokee with 73 points.
“We had some great performances at the Olympic Conference meet and were pleased overall with how the girls ran,” said Shawnee coach Dana Palumbo. “Freshman Kate Ruona had a big PR of 18:32 to lead our team to a 3rd place finish and first in the Patriot division. Claire Hauser had a very solid race as well in 18:59. Freshman Sydney Kiernan and junior Melanie Hasson PR'd with times of 20:59 and 21:40.”
Lenape placed ninth out of 12 teams with 219 points.
Senior Olivia Cao led the way for the Indians with her 28th-place time of 21:00.
“Our girls raced well, eight out of 10 ran season bests, with one being a personal best. We hope to carry this momentum into the sectional meet,” said Lenape coach Caitlin Orr.
Seneca placed sixth at the conference meet with 154 points.
First-year coach Chad Devino offered his take on the conference meet:
“At the Olympic Conference meet at Dream Park, we were up against some tough competition. However some of our girls persevered in spite of the adversity. Emma Klouchek (11th) ran a 19:41 which placed her in eighth and in the top ten. This was her PR for the season so far. Next was Chelsea Richards, who placed 25th overall and ran a 20:57. This was also Chelsea’s first time breaking 22:00 and a PR for her this season as well. Next was Morgan Hough, who ran a 21:03. Morgan has been progressing amazing this season and shaving seconds off her times each week. Up next was Amanda McNally who ran a 21:52. Amanda has been one of our most consistent runners this year and has been producing similar times each week. Next to follow was Evelyn Locke and Emma Daniels who ran a 22:30 and 22:32 and finally Emily Vosler ran 22:42.
“All the girls did an amazing job on (Oct. 23) and at this point in the season we are gearing up for sectionals at Delsea. There are a few things we need to work on, but I am confident that they will run their best times come November 9th. Our goal every year is to make it to the state championships at Holmdel Park and I have a lot of confidence in this team to make it there once again.”