Vanriele Wins Epic Duel and Westfield Sweeps Titles at Union County Champs

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Girls Union County Recap

Vanriele wins epic duel and breaks course record, Westfield wins instant classic        

Sparks were flying at Wednesday's 80th Union County Championships, which produced the fastest and arguably the greatest girls race in meet history at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth. 

Defending champion Victoria Vanriele of Governor Livingston and Jerika Lufrano of Union Catholic put on a sizzling show as the two underclassmen hammered the pace and shredded the 3.19-mile course with Vanriele winning the epic showdown in a course record 18:26. Lufrano was second in 18:30, tied for No. 2 in course history. 

The former course record of 18:30 was set when Katie McCafferty of Oak Knoll won the 2007 county title. 

The girls team race was also one for the ages as Westfield won a three-team thriller over Gov. Livingston and Union Catholic, 49-50-51.  GL and UC are each ranked No. 8 in the state. 

With her historic victory, Vanriele, a sophomore, stayed on pace to become the first four-time champion (boys or girls) in meet history. And she also avenged her loss to Lufrano at the Union County Conference Championships last week on the same course when Lufrano won in 18:33. Vanriele was second in 19:11.

Unlike last week, this time Vanriele, the Meet of Champions 800 winner last indoors and outdoors, was able to hang with Lufrano for 2.5 miles before making her decisive move.   

As for the team race, Westfield,  short-handed because of stress fracture to one of its front runners (senior Emma Jackler), had several runners step up as the Blue Devils  captured its second straight title by the narrowest of margins and increased its county record to 17 overall titles

How close was it? 

Westfield went 3-4-6-11-25 for 49 points and averaged 19:48. GL finished 1-10-12-13-14 for 50 points and averaged 19:46. Union Catholic went 2-7-9-15-18 for 51 points and averaged 19:46.

Westfield was led by senior Mia Melao, third in 19:17.

Melao said she and her teammates had no idea who won when the race ended.   

"This is a big shock to us because when we crossed the finish line we were sure that we were second or third,'' said Melao. "We knew it would be a tough one. GL and Union Catholic are both great teams with amazing runners.This is huge for us because we got terrible news yesterday (Tuesday) that Emma has a stress fracture. So we didn't know what was going to happen. But everyone knew what they had to do and stepped up, and we pulled through and won it for Emma. One of our girls, sophomore Grace Morgan (fourth in 19:25), PR'd by 50 seconds, and that was huge for us.''

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