Five Takeaways From Week 2 for NJXC

Some key highlights that caught our eye from the second week of competition. Items are listed in no particular order and are meant as interesting chunks of information not necessarily a top five highlights of the week. 

Liam Murphy is Ready for XC

Battle at OCP - Results - Videos - Photos - Recap

Allentown's star senior Liam Murphy ran a 14:52 for fifth all-time at Ocean County Park last weekend. If you've been following Murphy over the past few seasons you already knew he would be a force this year, but to run fifth all-time at a course that hosts Shore Conference Championships every year and to do so in week at a class meet says a lot about where his training is at right now. The times ranked all-time ahead of him come from Championship season performances, and Murphy is already in Championship form.

Keep an eye out for what he runs at Thompson Park this weekend, the course record held by Rey Rivera at 15:22 could be in danger. 

Jacob Heredia Has Put in the Miles

Back to the Mountain Invite - Results - Recap

Over his first two invitational races of the season Clifton's sophomore Jacob Heredia has dropped nearly two minutes off each of his 2018 performances, both were wins in 2019. A 16:15 at Darlington Park from his previous 18:04 and most recently a 16:26 during the Back to the Mountain Invite at Garret Mountain which is a drop from his 18:32 of 2018. 

When asked about what the difference has been Heredia stated, "I worked really hard over the summer, really boosting my miles and giving myself harder workouts," he continued, "running is whatever you put in, is what you get out so I knew that if I worked really hard it would show."

Well that summer training is definitely coming to fruition, expect Heredia to be in the mix for some titles come championship season. 

New School Same Strong Form from Bednar

Briarwood Invitational - Results - Recap

Charlotte Bednar had a stellar freshman year which saw multiple championship wins and then a 12th place finish at Nike Cross Nationals. This summer the young student athlete transferred to The Lawrenceville School and it appears she hasn't missed a beat.

The sophomore phenom won her season opening Challenge Division race at Briarwood by 70 seconds. Clocked at 18:43 she led her team to a third place finish and in the overall meet merge ran the second fastest time of the day with only the Championship Division winning time of 17:57 by Friends' Central senior Lydia Russell ahead of her.

A solid start from one of New Jersey XC's brightest up and coming stars.     

Colts Neck Even Stronger with Shapiro Power

Battle at OCP - Results - Videos - Photos - Recap

An already solid returning Colts Neck squad showed some of their new talent during the Battle at OCP class meet. Plenty of fresh names added to the mix. 

First off, Lilly Shapiro has given up soccer and joined in on the cross country action for her sophomore season. As a freshman on the track this past winter she won a sectional 800m, finished second at Group 3 Championships, and ran a 2:16.44 to finish fifth at the indoor Meet of Champions. 

During the Battle at OCP in week two, Lilly Shapiro won the sophomore division race in a battle with Hayley Amisano of Mater Dei Prep 18:03 to 18:06. They both led the merged meet times on the day. 

Lilly's sister Natalie Shapiro, who finished second in the senior race with 18:35, is also going to be a force up front. That run has her fourth in the Battle at OCP merge and is a 30 second improvement over her 2018 performance at this meet. 

With the Shapiro's leading the way, Kavita Shah (returner), Arianna Sakoutis (new XC addition), and Presslie Mariner (freshman) completed their top five in the merge which was good for second overall scored at 99 points and bringing in a 19:25 average. They were only behind NJ#2 ranked Holmdel who brought in 78.5 points with a 19:20 top five average in the merge.

Keep an eye out for Colts Neck! They seem to have a high ceiling moving forward. 

Winning Culture Comes from the Ground Up

Christian Brothers Academy extended their national record dual meet winning streak to 366 during week two, and since then extended it even further to 368 in week three. They haven't lost a dual meet since 1973. 

Now this is just a piece to the puzzle but one thing that's obvious is CBA cares about dual meets. They are well known for their multitude of state titles and national championship runs. But they care about dual meets, they care when their varsity is running for a title, when their freshmen are in a class meet, and when their sub-varsity squads hits the course. 

Many of those dual meet wins are missing most if not all the top varsity guys, it's often up to the athletes aspiring to run with the top flight to perform and continue the winning tradition. They own it, and the storyline of that dual streak involves so many athletes from their program. 

It's important for a team looking to achieve greater things to treat even the small stages as a serious chance to improve upon and own their craft. That's not just duals or freshmen races, that is including workouts, long runs, and all the little things that tie it together. To build a history and culture for future years to be excited about and learn from. 

They aren't all going to be wins, but that's part of the process. 

CBA is just one example of a New Jersey program that has built that winning culture. And you can bet that if you watch for those other successful programs at meets you'll see plenty of ownership over their races large or small as well. From pre-race preparation to cheering on their fellow teammates after they're done.  

"Extra Runners"

  • Many teams are showing strong running despite not having their #1s. Just some examples, Cherokee won the merge without Wechsler on a college visit, Haddonfield at Regis without Riddell, North Hunterdon took Back to the Mountain without Gavin Richards.   
  • Indian Hills girls showing that NJ#3 tag isn't without merit defending their Championship Race title at the Briarwood Invitational over the weekend
  • Hunterdon Central is a team to keep an eye on after their South Jersey Shootout sweep on the boys and girls side. The girls moved into the top ten in the state!
  • Randolph's sophomore front-runner Maya Wilkins has caught our attention, dropping over two minutes at the Warwick Valley Invitational from last year to finish second overall at 19:23. A strong showing from Wilkins, Chloe Whiting, and Meredith Finley powered the squad to a third place finish at 136 points. Will be interesting to see what Wilkins is capable off come championship season after her hot start.