Union Catholic Pulls Off Historic Sweep, Wischusen Smashes Record At Union XC Championships
By Jim Lambert
Union Catholic’s supremacy in Union County continued in mind-blowing and record-smashing fashion when the Vikings produced perhaps the most stunning and jaw-dropping team sweep at any county championship meet in state history on Thursday.
The UC boys and girls took down both course record averages, and Jimmy Wischusen of UC crushed the course record when the Vikings lit up the 3.19-mile course with a pair of performances for the ages at the 86th Union County Championships at historic Warinanco Park.
It was the fourth straight title for the UC boys, ranked No. 3 in the state, who upset No. 2 Westfield, and the UC girls, ranked No. 1 in NJ and No. 9 nationally, won its third straight title in what their coach called the greatest girls performance in state history.
CLASH OF TITANS
For the second straight year, UC and Westfield clashed in an instant classic as the two national powers practically turned the race into a dual meet, and for the second straight UC pulled off the upset victory.
The University of Virginia-bound Wiscushen led the charge for the Vikings with a masterful and thunderous performance by dropping a grenade on the course, stopping the clock at a mind-numbing 15:12 to destroy the course record!! That’s 16 seconds faster than the former CR of 15:28 set in 2021 by UC’s Shane Brosnan, now running at Harvard.
Wischusen led a 1-3-4-5-13 scoring combination for the Vikings that totaled 26 points. Westfield countered with a 2-6-8-9-10 for 35 points. UC and Westfield took 14 of the top 16 places in a race that featured 5 guys under 15:51!!
There was so much firepower in this race that UC and Westfield produced the two fastest averages in course history. UC averaged 15:46 and Westfield ran 15:59! The former record of 16:02 was set by UC in 2021. That same 2021 UC team averaged 16:01 when it won the Meet of Champions title.
On paper, Westfield had the edge after averaging 16:22 at Bowdoin Park and 16:08 at Holmdel this season, but UC ran its best race of the season and received career best races from seniors Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, third in 15:49, and Sean Wilson, fourth in 15:49. The finishes by Alvarez-Tullo, Wilson, and Alex Saldano, fifth in 15:50, proved to be the key to victory for UC as the Vikings were able to put 4 runners ahead of Westfield’s No. 2 man. Junior Aidan Cichocki also came up big for UC by placing 13th in 16:11 to seal the deal.
The course record was especially satisfying for Wischusen, who missed this race last year with an injury after placing second as a sophomore in 2021 with a time of 15:39.
Wischusen was locked in a tight duel with Westfield senior Avery Keith as they both went through the mile in 4:43. But Wischusen cranked out a 4:39 second mile to open a big gap on Keith, who finished second in 15:42. In the second half of the race, Wischusen was chasing Brosnan and racing the clock as he ran himself into the history book and became the King of Warinanco! Wischusen pointed at the clock in celebration as he came charging across the line.
McCabe called the victory the biggest upset ever for the Vikings.
“It’s the biggest upset victory our boys have ever had,” said McCabe. “Westfield is such a great team and we knew it would take our best race to beat them. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I really wanted our guys to mix it up and go after it, and they responded with their best race, especially over the last 1K when they poured it on and finished strong to close it out. I’m really proud of how the guys raced. The stepped up to the challenge.”