Union Catholic Throws Down Epic Course Record Sweep at Union County Conference Championships
By Jim Lambert
The Union Catholic cross-country teams threw down a pair of historic performances when the Vikings swept the course records in electrifying fashion on the way to repeating as champions at Tuesday’s Union County Conference Championships at Oak Ridge Park.
UC simply blitzed the competition in both the boys and girls Watchung Division races.
The boys, ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 8 nationally, got things started with a 1-2-4-5-6 finish and a course record average of 15:44!!!! That broke the course record average of 15:49 that UC set at the conference meet in 2021. Senior Jimmy Wischusen led the charge for the Vikings with a runaway victory in 15:15, the second-fastest time ever run on the 3.1-mile layout. The only runner to go faster at Oak Ridge is Marco Langon of Bridgewater-Raritan, who ran 15:02 in the 2021 North Jersey, Section 2 Group 4 race.
UC’s other four scorers all ran PR’s and all broke 16 minutes. Senior Alex Saldana was second in 15:35, senior Alessandro- Alvarez-Tullo placed fourth in 15:52, junior Evan Weber ran 15:59 to finish fifth,and junior Aidan Cichocki finished sixth in 15:59.
The Vikings also had a impressive 1-5 split of 45 seconds in its 18-52 victory over Westfield, No. 2 in the state and No. 22 in the nation. Westfield didn’t run most of their top guns, so the big showdown between national powers will have to wait until the Union County Championships on October 19 at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth. UC is the defending champion.
UC’s girls, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 12 nationally, finished off the sizzling daily double by the Vikings by torching the course to the tune of an 18:20 average!!!! That’s smashed the girls course record of 18:35 that UC set at the conference meet a year ago.
The Vikings scorers finished 1-2-3-4-6 with freshman phenom Paige Sheppard burning a course record 17:41!!! Senior Courtney Kaiser was second in 17:57, the third-fastest time in course history, freshman Cayleigh Kaiser finished third in 18:33, freshman Kayla Devine was fourth in 18:35, and sophomore Emmy O’Hearn placed sixth in 18:57.
Next up for the UC girls is the Union County Championships where the Vikings will aim to take down the course record average of 18:54 that they set last year en route to a second straight title. I think it’s safe to say that record is on very shaky ground.