Powerful winds made it challenging to walk straight, let alone race. But that didn't deter the Kingsway girls and boys, who rolled to another pair of title at the Gloucester County Championships on Thursday.
The Dragons' boys, ranked 8th in the state this week, rolled to their 8th straight county title, with this one at West Deptford Park. The girls in red and black, currently 10th in NJ, won their 5th straight Gloucester crown for Coaches Christian Lynch and Caitlin Hess.
The individual winner in the girls' race was also a title defender. Kingsway junior Ashlynne Burke won again, pulling away from the lead pack not long after the mile mark to take the top spot in 19:16.5. Early in the race, it looked like the Dragons might repeat their perfect 15 score from 2018, with a pack of five at the front.
Washington Twp junior Maura Keane was not going to let that happen. Fourth at the midway point, Keane raced strong through the uneven trails in West Deptford to move up to second at the finish, running 19:38.7. Kingsway took the next three spots, with sophomore Allison MacFarland, junior Sydney Watts and sophomore Allison Helkowski all battling the strong gusts to finish under 20 minutes.
The boys' individual winner had been waiting and working for a year for this one. Brady Shute of Gateway-Woodbury finished second at the 2018 Gloucester County Championships, with Kingsway senior Daniel Reynolds getting by him by just 0.3 seconds.
There would be no lean at the finish needed this year. Shute, a junior, pulled away in the last mile to run 16:14.6 and win by ten seconds. Stone Caraccio led the way for Kingsway, taking second in 16:24.4, with long-time Shute friendly rival Anas Bensaoud of Clearview third in 16:27.5.
"Last year, that was heart-breaking...he caught me right at the line. This meet, more than any meet, was the one I wanted to get to. I'd never won a big meet in high school up until this year," said Shute, winner of six meets so far this season.
Kingsway posted a winning score of 37 and a top-five average of 16:51. Washington Township finished second as they had last year, scoring 61 points and putting their top five across the line just 44 seconds apart. Clearview moved up one spot from 2018 to take third with 87 points.
The depth and large rosters for Kingsway were on full display in the junior varsity races, where they had the top several boys and girls finishers. First and second on the boys side were seniors Kaleb Borkowski and Sam Allen. Allen's season is just getting started after a busy summer - he won New Balance Nationals Outdoor in the 3K race walk and finished second at the U.S. Under-20 National Championships in the 10K race walk, then represented Team U.S.A. in several international competitions, including the Pan Am Games in Costa Rica.
Caroline Heino, a Dragons' senior returning to action after being out the last few weeks, led the way in the junior varsity girls race.
- Boys - Brady Shute (Gateway/Woodbury) 16:14 / Kingsway 37pts
- Girls - Ashlynne Burke (Kingsway) 19:16 / Kingsway 22pts
- Boys - Daniel Reynolds (Kingsway) 16:20 / Kingsway 28pts
- Girls - Ashlynne Burke (Kingsway) 19:06 / Kingsway 15pts
- Boys - Stone Caraccio (Kingsway) 16:28 / Kingsway 32pts
- Girls - Alexis Mullarkey (Kingsway) 18:59 / Kingsway 15pts
- Boys - Joe Grandizio (Kingsway) 16:14 / Kingsway 25pts
- Girls - Rachel Vick (Kingsway) 18:43 / Kingsway 34pts
- Boys - Joe Grandizio (Kingsway) 16:19 / Kingsway 25pts
- Girls - Rachel Vick (Kingsway) 18:46 / Kingsway 20pts
- Boys - Noah Culbreath (Kingsway) 16:23 / Kingsway 28pts
- Girls - Rachel Vick (Kingsway) 19:23 / Clearview Reg 37pts
- Boys - Noah Culbreath (Kingsway) 16:22 / Kingsway 53pts
- Girls - Celine Mazzi (Delsea) 19:02 / Pitman 44pts
- Boys - Kyle Leonard (Washington Twp) 16:30 / Kingsway 39pts
- Girls - Vicky Ajimoko (Williamstown) 18:49 / Kingsway 48pts
2011 (Camden Gloucester)
- Boys - Nick Costello (Delsea) 16:30 / Clearview 48pts
- Girls - Dina Iacone (Washington Twp) 18:38 / Delsea 38pts