MaryKathleen McCurdy led a blitz of Cherry Hill East girls across the finish line while Audubon's Zachary Williams earned his first career invitational title on Saturday when they laced 'em up at the Ray Hoagland Rancocas Valley XC Invite in Eastampton.
Cherry Hill East claimed a sweep of the team titles for the third straight season, and it was McCurdy's girls team which made the most profound statement. The Cougars claimed the top four spots in the girls race, led by McCurdy's win in 20:24.
The gold medal was McCurdy's first of her cross country career; the junior was fourth at this meet last fall. McCurdy, a fifth-place finisher in the Camden County meet last fall, seems destined for bigger things this fall. Before her win in Eastampton, she opened this season with a runner-up finish at the Battle at Ocean County Park last week.
Sophomore Madison McNiff (second, 20:37), senior Aliza Kotzen (third, 21:06), and junior Isabel Slimm (fourth, 21:51) finished up the top-four sweep, and junior Sabrina Rounds (sixth, 22:07) closed out Cherry Hill East's impressive 1:42 split.
On the boys side, Audubon's Williams made it a sweep of first-time winners at the Hoagland meet with his nine-second victory in 16:45.
Before this season Williams had only one sub-17 5K, a 16:55 when he placed third at the South Jersey, Group 1 meet last fall. Last week Williams ran 16:52 at a Colonial Conference batch meet.
The Cherry Hill East boys, paced by junior Gabe Rodriguez' runner-up finish in 16:54, also enjoyed a dominating performance over the field, dusting runner-up Shawnee 40-106.
Cherry Hill East, a Group 4 qualifier last season, pushed four into the top 10 and closed with a 17:23 average and a 58-second compression. For the Cougars, Rodriguez was followed by sophomore Ethan Anderer fifth in 17:10, sophomore Dylan Hagan eighth in 17:29, senior Maxwell Haught 10th in 17:35 and senior Paul Bruce 16th in 17:53.
Coach Ray Hoagland