Union Catholic Girls Win Third Straight State Non-Public A Cross-Country Title, Boys Place Second
By Jim Lambert
HOLMDEL, NJ — The Union Catholic girls, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 6 in the nation, flexed their dominance with another historic performance when the Vikings captured their third straight Non-Public A title at Saturday’s NJSIAA Non-Public A Championships.
On the boys side, the Vikings, ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 7 in the country, finished second to Christian Brothers Academy, ranked No. 1 in the state, and No. 3 in the nation, in the Non-Public A race.
In the girl’s race, the Vikings remained undefeated and simply overwhelmed the competition with a 27-69 victory over a very strong Pingry squad, ranked No. 5 in the state.
Freshman phenom Paige Sheppard won the race in 18:09, one of the fastest times ever run by a freshman in course history, to fuel a 1-2-4-9-11 scoring combination for UC. Senior Courtney Kaiser was second in a Holmdel PR of 18:23, sophomore Ella Solorzano placed fourth in 19:14, a huge Holmdel PR, freshman Kayla Devine finished 9th in 19:49, and senior Peyton Hollis finished 11th in 19:56.
UC’s 5-runner average was 19:04.8, which tied the meet record that was set in 2007 by Voorhees at the State Group Championships. It’s also tied for the fourth-fastest average in course history. The Vikings will take one more shot at the course record of 19:01.0 (set by Voorhees at the 2007 Meet of Champions) when they defend their title at Meet of Champions this Saturday.
In the boys race, the Vikings averaged 16:49 and put its first five runners in the top 18 on the way to a runner-up finish with 72 points.
The top five for the Vikings were Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, 10th in 16:27, Evan Weber, 13th in 16:46, Alex Saldano, 14th in 16:54, Michael Devine, 17th in 16:58, and Sean Wilson, 18th in 17:00. UC’s Jimmy Wischusen, one of the favorites to win the race, didn’t finish due to tightness in his hamstring.
Despite missing Wischusen from its scoring, UC still ran the 8th fastest average of the day and qualified for the Meet of Champions as the third wild card.