Union Catholic Cross-Country Teams Sweep Titles at Shore Coaches Invitational
By Jim Lambert
The Union Catholic cross-country teams once again showed everyone why it’s the best combined program in the state when the Vikings swept team titles at the Shore Coaches Invitational on Saturday at muddy Holmdel Park.
The UC girls, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 12 nationally, steamrolled Haddonfield, the No. 2 team in the state, by running a meet record average of 19:06.4, the fifth-fastest time in course history, and jamming five runners in top nine on the way to an 18-56 victory over Haddonfield in the E Division race.
In the boys competition, UC, ranked No. 3 in NJ, ran away with the F Division title, 20-62, over runner-up Pingry.
The Vikings dominated the girls E race by finishing 1-2-3-4-9.
UC’s top five were Paige Sheppard, first in 18:27, one of the fastest times in course history for a freshman, Courtney Kaiser, second in 18:37, Peyton Hollis, third in 19:07, Cayleigh Kaiser, fourth in 19:19, and Ella Solorzano, 9th in 20:03.
The only four teams who have run faster at Holmdel than UC are all from Hunterdon County. They are Voorhees (19:01.0 at the 2007 Meet of Champions), Voorhees (19:01.6 at the 2012 M of C), North Hunterdon (19:02.6 at the 2019 M of C), and Voorhees (19:04.8 at the 2007 Group 3 race). North Hunterdon also ran 19:06.4 at the 2019 Meet of Champions, which UC equaled.
It seems like it’s just a matter of time before UC breaks the course record average, especially when you consider that freshman Kayla Devine ran 19:24 to win the JV C race. If you insert Devine’s time into UC’s varsity lineup, then UC’s average comes to 18:58.8.
On the boys side, the Vikings crammed its five scorers in the top nine and averaged 16:54 to roll to the championship. The top five for UC were Alex Saldana, third in 16:37, Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, fifth in 16:57, Evan Weber, sixth in 16:58, Aidan Cichocki, seventh in 16:58, and Michael Devine, ninth in 17:02. Jimmy Wischusen, the Meet of Champions 3,200 winner last winter and the fastest runner at Holmdel last year (15:22), didn’t race for UC. He ran in Rhode Island last week and planned all along to skip this meet as part of his race schedule for the season