The Vikings did successfully defend their title, and they showed how deep their team is by overcoming the loss of junior star Peyton Hollis.
Hollis, running in her first XC season, came into the race undefeated and was one of the favorites. But unfortunately she had to drop out of the race just past the top of the bowl (near beyond the midway point) with a leg injury.
Union Catholic still had enough firepower to defeat No. 11 ranked Kent Place, 52-88, to repeat as champions and win its fourth title overall. And the Vikings still managed to average 20:17 and finish second in the team merge to Haddonfield, the No. 2 ranked team in the state.
The top runners for the Vikings were senior Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, fifth in 19:11, junior Courtney Kaiser, eighth in 20:00, freshman Emmy O’Hearn, 9th in 20:17, junior Leilani Gibson, 10th in 20:24,, and senior Victoria Urbaez, 17th in 20:56.
In the boys competition, Union Catholic ran a strong race when the Vikings, ranked No. 2 in the state, finished second to No. 1 ranked CBA in the Non-Public A championship race.
The top five runners for the Vikings were senior Ryan Cichocki, fifth in 16:06, junior Alex Saldana, sixth in 16:08, sophomore Evan Weber, 15th in 16:33, senior Caudell Cajuste, 16th in 16:52, and junior Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, 20th in 17:04.
The cross-country teams will be back in action at the State Meet of Champions this Saturday at Holmdel Park.