On the individual side we may see a new face in first place at the Meet of Champions. It seems like a long time coming since Eve Glasergreen has been a big name in NJ Distance for a while now at North Hunterdon; with a 7 second lead on everyone from both the top times at Groups and the entire season at Holmdel she is the 2014 season statistical favorite heading in running 18:15. That being said the story of possible winners doesn't end there.
The girls race is wide open with a bunch of upsets and emerging performances last week at groups. An obvious favorite to win the MOC meet would have been Briana Gess who won in 2013 as a freshmen. She is still a front runner for the title for sure but things became a whole lot more interesting after Holmdel senior Marin Warner showed the NJ world that Gess could be beat with a 18:37 to 18:44 victory over the returning champion in the Group 2 race.
When combining all of the group meet results and looking at the Holmdel rankings this season those weren't even the fastest times out there. We expect a large front running pack unless a few athletes decide to push a maddening pace to get out ahead. There are a bunch of talented girls eyeing first place here and a wide variety of strengths between kick speed and endurance.
The second best time at Holmdel in 2014 comes from junior Sierra Castaneda of West Morris Central who upset the until then (and still) dominant Catherine Pagano of Northern Highlands in the Group 3 race. Castaneda ran 18:22 with a strong final kick for her first state championship and a huge course best. Pagano cannot be ruled out for an MOCs push either with the third best time of 18:25.
Right behind them is where the Marin Warner sits, not due to her Group 2 winning time of 18:37 but thanks to her own course best Monmouth County Championships winning time of 18:30. Her best finish at the fall Meet of Champions is 8th in 2013 when she ran 18:36.
The next pairing came from the same Group 3 race that Castaneda and Pagano dueled it out in. Ocean City senior Epiphany Grisbaum ran 18:34 and freshmen Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland Regional 18:36 for the fifth and sixth ranked Holmdel times in the state. Grisbaum clocked in a ridiculous personal course best last weekend, her previous best at Holmdel was 19:17 at last year's MOCs. Aldridge is a freshmen who has had quality finishes all year, we haven't seen her ceiling yet so who knows how fast she'll go with such a talented field.
|2014 Holmdel Rankings||2013 Group Merge Returners||2013 Meet of Champion Returners|
|1||Eve Glasergreen 18:15||Briana Gess 18:16||Briana Gess 17:45|
|2||Sierra Castaneda 18:22||*Liz Lansing 18:29||*Liz Lansing 18:14|
|3||Catherine Pagano 18:25||Marin Warner 18:30||Grace Dwyer 18:30|
|4||Marin Warner 18:30||Grace Dwyer 18:34||Marin Warner 18:36|
|5||Epiphany Grisbaum 18:34||Julia Guerra 18:42||Julia Guerra 18:37|
|6||Alyssa Aldridge 18:36||Sierra Castaneda 18:44||Seirra Castaneda 18:39|
|7||Stephanie Mauer 18:42||Eve Glasergreen 18:50||Christina Rancan 18:56|
|8||Briana Gess 18:44||Christina Rancan 19:02||Eve Glasergreen 18:58|
|9||Lauren Sapone 18:45||Meaghan Driscoll 19:03||Lauren Zodl 19:00|
|10||Hope Tiboni 18:53||Christine O'Kane 19:04||Eryn Mills 19:01|
*Liz Lansing of Randolph is injured this year and won't be running.
Junior Stephanie Mauer of Hillsborough took second in the Group 4 race behind Eve Glasergreen running a personal course best of 18:42, last year at MOCs she placed 21st with a time of 18:53. She has a big role to play with the team race so she has even more motivation than just individual glory.
Then we come to sophomore Briana Gess of Haddonfield, the defending Champion, who has a 2014 Holmdel best of 18:44. That performance, like for many of these athletes, is based off one Holmdel Park race and anyone can have an off day. Last year she ran 18:16 at Groups and then dropped that time even further to 17:45 to win the Meet of Champions! We know she is capable of a better time, it is just a matter of shaking off losing the Group title and taking on a super talented girls field with the right race strategy.
More names that we'll see mixing it up with the leaders and listed with their 2014 Holmdel bests: Lauren Sapone of Red Bank Regional who ran 18:45 at Monmouth County Champs, freshmen Hope Tiboni of Mendham 18:53, Same Halvorsen of Ridgewood 18:54, Carleen Jeffers of Ridgewood 18:57, Erin McLaughlin of Voorhees 18:59, Grace Dwyer of Hamilton North 18:59, Paige Petty of Bernards 19:01, Caitlin Glynn of Union Catholic 19:01, Julia Guerra of Indian Hills 19:04, Rachel Suss of Metuchen 19:05. To see a full list of Holmdel times so far this season check here.
When it comes down to it here is my prediction:
This is an extremely hard race to call as many of the girls toeing the line tomorrow will have a strong shot to win it. However if I must choose a winner then... Her time has come, Eve Glasergreen of North Hunterdon is too strong with a balanced performance throughout the race, she gets ahead to hold off a potential "kick-fest" between a tight chase pack behind her. She breaks 18 minutes hitting mid to high 17:50s. Briana Gess of Haddonfield bounces back from her Group performance and takes second running high 17:50s. Following the top two is a pack between Sierra Castaneda, Marin Warner and Catherine Pagano all running in the 18:10s finishing your top five.
Who do you think will win the Individual title on Saturday at MOCs? Comment your top five predictions below.
The Team Race
When it comes to the team race it is a little less open season for the first place spot with Red Bank Catholic showing us week in and week out why they were ranked #1 in the state. However as we saw last week with plenty of performances addressed to upset city cross country is all about that Any Given Saturday mentality this year.
Prediction: After coming so close but taking second last year at MOCs the Red Bank Catholic girls are taking this one, they posted an 19:29 team average during Groups and lead the merged results by 65 points.
The harder pick to make involves the super close fight for second place between Ridge and Hillsborough. Hillsborough won the Group 4 race head to head against Ridge last Saturday by ONE POINT 90 to 91. Hillsbrough posted a 19:36 average to Ridge's 19:43. It seems that Ridge has more of a close pack but Hillsbrough will benefit from their leading runner Stephanie Mauer who had the fifth best time out of all the Groups on Saturday and will most likely get the lowest individual place card between the two teams.
I have Hillsborough with another close score edging out Ridge for second at the Meet of Champions..
Who do you think will win the Team title at MOCs? Comment your team predictions below.