Union Catholic Pulls Off Historic Sweep, Hollis Repeats as Union County Champion
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.
The biggest questions heading into this race were how much Union Catholic would break the course record average by, and whether the Vikings could earn a very rare shutout victory.
The answer to the first question is 36 seconds!!! Yes, that’s how much time the Vikings sliced off the CR average when the top five averaged 18:18!!!! The former record of 18:54 was set by UC last year. You read that right!
That’s the second fastest CR average in NJ history by a girls team on any course!!! The only NJ that with a faster average is Colts Neck, who ran 18:16 at the 2021 Shore Conference Championships at Ocean County Park, which is a little shorter and even flatter than Warinanco.
As for the second question?
The Vikings blitzed the competition by becoming just the third girls team in meet history to pitch a shutout with a 1-2-3-4-5-6-8 finish for 15 points! You read that right. UC put its seven runners in the top eight!!
The only other girls team to hang 15 points at the county meet are Westfield’s 1995 and ’96 squads, coached by the late Thom Hornish.
Senior Peyton Hollis led the epic showing for the Vikings by winning her second straight title in 17:52. The Duke-bound Hollis, who opened a gap with a big surge the second mile, was just off the course record of 17:49 that she set last year. Freshman phenom Paige Sheppard was second in 17:55, the fourth fastest time in course history, senior Courtney Kaiser was third in 18:09, No. 5 all-time at Warinanco, freshman Caleigh Kaiser placed fourth in 18:45, freshman Kayla Devine was fifth in 18:52, sophomore Ella Solorzano finished sixth in 18:57, and sophomore Emmy O’Hearn placed eighth in 19:30.
UC coach Mike McCabe put his girls teams performance into historical perspective.
“I think this is the best performance by a NJ team ever,” said McCabe. They ran 18:18 and we put 7 in the top 8. No other team has ever dominated a county race like that while running that fast. That was just an amazing performance. Our top three went our hard and kept pushing and everyone ran exactly the way we hoped.”