Union Catholic Lights Up Indoor Nationals!!!
The Union Catholic girls, one of the top programs in the country in recent years, once again flexed its superior firepower by lighting up the track with one sizzling victory and a total of three All-American finishes at the New Balance Indoor National Championships that concluded on Sunday at the New Balance Track and Field Center in New York.
The Vikings got things rolling on Friday night when the distance medley team placed fifth in 11:53.31, which is No. 7 in state history and shattered the school and Union County record of 11:59.38 that UC ran to finish first at the Eastern States Championships last month.
Then on Saturday, UC blew up the track with one of the greatest performances in New Jersey history in fhe sprint medley relay when the Vikings ran a red hot 3:58.46 to finish first. That time is No. 2 in N.J. indoor history, and No. 18 in U.S. history. The only N.J. girls team to run faster indoors than UC is Columbia, which ran 3:57.19 to win the 2014 New Balance National Indoor title. Watch the Sprint Medley Relay
UC capped off its remarkable relay show on Sunday when the 4×400 squad burned a 3:47.31 to place fifth to give the Vikings its third All-American finish. The top six finishers in each event earn All-American. The Vikings nearly had a fourth All-American finish in the shuttle hurdles, but an unfortunate disqualification call nullified its All-American status.
The Vikings also placed ninth in the 4×800 in 9:19.05, which came without its top half miler, junior Leena Morant. Morant anchored the SMR instead.
“The SMR is the first national title for the girls without Sydney (McLaughlin, the 2016 US Olympian), so that’s pretty big,” said McCabe. “‘And our DMR was great, our 4×400 had great splits. We’re probably the most comprehensive relay team in the country from shuttles up to the DMR. It was a great weekend. We showed the power and the depth that we have .”
McCabe had a tough decision between loading up his SMR or the 4×800. The 4×800 had the No. 1 time in the nation heading into the meet (9:07.44)
“A lot of the decision to go SMR came from us not winning it last spring,” said Coach McCabe, referring to the New Balance Nationals last June when UC lost the lead late in the SMR.
The outcome of the SMR was never in doubt as the Vikings dominated from the gun. Watch the race here
Junior Sydney Tucker put UC ahead to stay with a 25.1 leadoff leg. Northeastern-bound senior Khamil Evans increased the lead with a 25.2 200 carry. Nkulume then blasted a 56.04 400 leg, and Morant put the finishing touches on the national championship when she dropped a very fast 2:12.01 anchor to put the race away.
Watch a video interview with the girls SMR team here
In the DMR on Friday, Morant led off with a 3:40.77 1,200 leg. Nkulume followed with a 57.43 400, sophomore Morgan Williams then split 2:17.13, and LaSalle-bound senior Jerika Lufrano anchored in 4:57.99. The distance medley was won by North Rockland of New York in 11:41.84. The great Katelyn Tuohy, who owns several national records, including the mile outdoors, came from way back on the anchor leg with a 4:41.93 split to rally North Rockland to the victory.
In Sunday’s 4×400, Evans led off with 58.35, Nkulume blasted a 55.32, Tucker followed with a 58.01, and Morant cranked out a 55.61 anchor carry to bring the Vikings across the line to cap off the unforgettable weekend.
The Union Catholic boys track and field team capped off a sensational indoor season with several strong performances at the New Balance National Championships this past weekend at the New Balance Track and Field Center in New York.
The highlight of the meet for the Vikings came in Saturday’s shuttle hurdles when the quartet of Elijah Abraham, Ryan McLaughlin, Brandon Leslie, and Obadare Animashaun combined to place fifth in 30.68 to earn All-American honors. Abraham led off with a 8.1 split, McLaughlin followed with a 7.1, Leslie then went 7.9, and Animashaun anchored with a 7.7 split.
In other highlights, Elijah Brown, the 800 winner at the N.J. Meet of Champions last month, had a busy weekend for UC. The junior finished 10th in the 800 in 1:54.15, split 1:57.20. on the 10th place sprint medley relay that ran 3:32.91.,and he anchored the 4×400 that ran 3:30.08 with a 50.05 carry.
Conor Reilly cleared 14-10 to place 6th in the pole vault in the Emerging Elite Division, and he led off the sprint medley.
Myles Plummer finished second in the freshman mile in 4:27.25, split 50.1 on the sprint medley, and he ran on the 4×400.
The New Balance Nationals put the finishing touches on a memorable season for head coach Mike McCabe‘s squad.
The Vikings swept the team titles at the Union County Relays and Track and Field Championships, won the championship at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships, and placed second at both the NJSIAA Non-Public A Relays and the NJSIAA Non-Public A Track and Field Championships.
Individually, Brown won the Meet of Champions title in the 800 with a time of 1:53.98, the fourth fastest time in the state this season, and finished first in the 400 and 800 at the state Non-Public A Championships. Reilly captured the state Non-Public A title in the pole vault.