UC Rocks Meet of Champions!
Written by: Jim Lambert
The Union Catholic girls delivered the most jaw-dropping collection of performances in meet history, and UC’s Jimmy Wischusen scored an emotional victory at Sunday’s 54th NJSIAA Meet of Champions at Ocean Breeze on Staten Island.
UC’s girls flexed their depth and talent to rack up a meet record five victories!!! Included in the unprecedented haul of gold medals, was a 1-2-3 sweep in the 800, and a meet record by Alexandra Bonn in the triple jump, and a relay sweep as the Vikings became the first team to ever win both the 4×400 and 4×800 at the same M of C.
Wischusen, who missed nearly the entire indoor season last year and most of the cross-country season this past fall with injuries, won the boys 3,200.
The final medal count for the Vikings was 15,11 for the girls and four for the boys.
Union Catholic’s epic day got rolling right away when the Vikings won the meet-opening 4×800 relay in 9:28.77, nine second ahead of runner-up Westfield. But that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
UC won the 4×800 without their three fastest half milers. They went with Jimmiea King (2:19.98), Victoria Urbaez (2:22.42), Alexandra Moore (2:24.21), and Leilani Gibson (2:22.18). There’s that depth and talent pool that is unprecedented.
Next up for UC was Alexandra Bonn in the triple jump.
The senior not only successfully defended her title, but she soared to a meet and school record 39-6.25, which placed her No. 10 in state history. Bonn broke the meet record of 38-2, set by Pope John’s Teja Brown at the 2020 indoor Meet of Champions.
The Yale-bound Bonn, who also won the TJ at the M of C last spring, missed winning her fourth M of C title by an inch and half when she placed second in the long jump with an 18-0. Lia Malave of Toms River North went 18-1.25 on her final jump to win.
Then it was Taylor Cox’s turn.
Cox, a sophomore at UC, scored one of the mot dramatic wins of the meet when she outleaned Quaycian Davis of East Orange, 7.88 to 7.90. The time by Cox, who leaned so hard that she did a summersault after she crossed the line, is No. 3 in meet history, tied for No. 5 in state history, and it’s No. 4 in the nation this season. The 7.90 by Davis is No. 4 in meet history, and No. 8 in NJ history.
On the track next for the Vikings were Peyton Hollis, Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, and Maameyaa Nyinah, who pulled of the 1-2-3 sweep, the second time a girls team has ever done that in any event in the 44 year history of the girls M of C. The North Hunterdon girls went 1-2-3 in the 3,200 in 1987.
Hollis, a junior, won in a school record 2:11.92 as she edged Gunsiorowski, second with a PR of 2:11.95, and Nyinah was third in 2:14.24, just ahead of Kelsey Niglio of Cherokee, fourth in 2:14.27. The victory for Hollis was especially satisfying because she has been building back up after missing the end of the cross-country season with an injury.
Nyinah, Cox, Gunsiorowski, and Hollis returned the track to run the 4×400, and put the finishing touches on Union Catholic’s dominating day by finishing first in 3:52.16, the No. 1 time in the state this season, No. 7 in meet history, and No. 5 in the country this season.
The 4×400 splits for UC were 58.57 for the North Carolina-bound Nyinah, 57.54 for Cox, 58.03 for the Notre Dame-bound Gunsiorowski, and 58.03 for Hollis.
The three two medals for the girls came from sophomore sprinter Taylor Aska, second in the 55 dash in a school record 7.04, the second fastest in the state this season, and fifth in the 200 in 25.07, and from junior Leah Gould, seventh in the 200 in 25.43.
On the boys side, right after Jimmy Wischusen came charging across the line to win the 3,200 in a Union County record 9:05.80, he was immediately overcome with emotion.
The junior at Union Catholic started thinking about everything he’s had to overcome to fulfill his dream of becoming a Meet of Champions winner.
“I’ve been through a lot of injuries and stuff throughout my high school career,” said Wischusen, who has shown a lot of heart and guts and resiliency to overcome all the adversity he’s dealt with. “This was my first track Meet of Champions I’ve ever run in, so to win this means a lot to me. I was very emotional after I won.”
Wischusen, who was battling a bad head cold on Sunday, didn’t mind the slower pace (4:40.39 for first 1,600), so he just ran relaxed until it was go time. With about 800 to go, he hit the gas and made a powerful surge that dropped the very talented field. Wischusen ran a 4:25.41 final 1,600 with a 2:09.50 final 800 and a 67.16 closing 400 to win by three-plus seconds over runner-up Nick Sullivan of CBA (9:09.01).
The other medalists for UC were sophomore Noah Cooper, second in the long jump with a 23-0.50, the 4×400 relay, seventh in 3:24.36, and the 4×800 relay, seventh in 8:05.33.