The South Sectionals brought us some great cross country action over the weekend, big showdowns, a course record, and more. Check out the section by section highlights below, each header links to full results.
While Smith made it two straight the rest of her teammates joined her as champions in 2019 scoring 27 points and averaging 20:42. Chloe Gerstenbacher and Marleigh Puglia both joined Smith in the top five. Mia LaMarra and Autumn Heaton closed out their scoring runners in eighth and 12th.
This was their first team Sectional win since 1996!
- Julia Smith 11 A P Schalick HS 19:40.40
- A P Schalick HS 27 1+2+5+8+11 (26+29) 1:55 1-5 Split | 20:42 Avg
The Haddonfield girls ran a 19:15 team average to win their 10th sectional title in a row! And their 14th in the past 15 years. Their 21 point run was the lowest of the day at Delsea, they closed their top five by the ninth position! The boys of Haddonfield had the second best point total later in the meet.
Junior Sarah Naticchia led the charge with an 18:20.5 to win the Group 2 South race, her first XC season has gone very well claiming four wins now on the season. Joining Naticchia in the team win was Allison Colflesh, Lilly Sirover, Lindsay Colflesh, Payton Weiner, Olivia Stoner, and Katherine Rice.
- Sarah Naticchia 11 Haddonfield Memorial HS 18:20.50
- Haddonfield Memorial HS 21 1+2+4+5+9 (12+14) 1:45 1-5 Split | 19:15 Avg
A statement win for Highland Regional freshman Grace Wassell, this was her first career victory and a breakthrough run after three straight second place finishes coming into the meet. After all the Sections completed their races the star frosh ranked 10th overall in the merge, one of ten girls to break 19 minutes.
She is the second individual winner in school history, the first since program legend Megan Venables won in 2010 running a 17:23. Venables still holds the New Jersey course record at Holmdel Park with a 17:28, only passed by NY's Katelyn Tuohy's 16:21 last fall.
Team wise Ocean City brought home their third straight title, next year they can attempt to tie the four year streak the school won from 1986-1989. This is their 11th overall Sectional win, the most by one school at the South Sectionals. This year's winning team's top five included Alexa Palmieri in second, Casey McLees third, Rebecca Millar seventh, Erin Hanlon 16th, and Isabella Padula.
- Grace Wassell 9 Highland Reg HS 18:54.70
- Ocean City HS 46 2+3+7+16+18 (19+33) 1:37 1-5 Split | 20:14 Avg
The Kingsway girls powered their way to their fifth straight Sectional title with an impressive course record 18:57 team average, thank you Reuben Frank for that note, and 55 second top five split. That is their tenth Sectional title all-time! Senior Allie Pierontoni and junior Ashlynne Burke led the team in fourth and fifth individually.
Even when throwing the meet together in a merge Kingsway held strong with 54 points (claiming four of the top 15 times), ahead of Haddonfield's 101 merge point total. Kingsway moved up to NJ#5 in the rankings this week.
Olivia Shafer is the first ever to win an individual Sectional title for Egg Harbor Township, the fastest time of the day at Delsea with an 18:08. Her win came after a battle with Kate Rathman of Cherokee second at 18:13, Shawnee freshman Kate Ruona had an awesome run of her own in third clocking 18:14.
- Olivia Shafer 12 Egg Harbor Twp HS 18:08.40
- Kingsway HS 39 4+5+7+11+12 (15+20) 0:55 1-5 Split | 18:57 Avg
Sebastien Reed of Pitman coasted to his third straight Sectional XC win with a 15:49. With that win Reed became just the second boy ever to win three straight in the South Group 1 and the first since Dan Gough of Haddonfield did so back in the 1984 to 1986 seasons.
The Haddon Township boys rattled off their second straight Sectional win and their 10th in the past 12 years. The winning effort saw senior Jake Aylmer out front finishing second at 16:08, his teammates Luke Overbeck and Ethan Bergmann cracked the top ten as well before Matt Conway and Justin Merkh wrapped up the top five in 12th and 13th.
- Sebastien Reed 12 Pitman HS 15:49.00
- Haddon Township HS 40 2+5+8+12+13 (14+25) 0:50 1-5 Split | 16:42 Avg
For Riddell this was his third straight Sectional title, he is remarkably the fifth Haddonfield boy to accomplish this feat including Jonahthan Vitez (2007-09), Chris Platt (2000-02), Dan Gough (1984-86), and Jim Smith (1977-79). For the team as a whole this was their 16th in a row and adds to their state record 37 Sectional titles.
- Martin Riddell 12 Haddonfield Memorial HS 15:33.40
- Haddonfield Memorial HS 23 1+2+5+6+9 (14+19) 0:49 1-5 Split | 16:00 Avg
Kevin Antczak of Mainland Regional wow'd the crowd in the Group 3 race when he coasted in to a 15:11.5 to break the course record of 15:18 by Peter Hess of Toms River North set back in 2002 during the Group 4 South Sectional. Hess went on to win the Group 4 State title that year and finished third at the Meet of Champions.
This is the second straight for Antczak and this coming weekend he'll have plenty of competition in the Group 3 State Championship race to compete with for the win.
On the team side the Ocean City boys made it a sweep for the school with their 25 point victory and 16:34 average, they also won the title in 2018. Most impressive was the strong pack finish they utilized to take this win, they claimed placed three through eight and their seventh runner was 10th, the top five had a split of just 14 seconds!
- Kevin Antczak 12 Mainland Regional HS 15:11.50
- Ocean City HS 25 3+4+5+6+7 (8+10) 0:14 1-5 Split | 16:34 Avg
This was a big time showdown heading in and it did not disappoint with Jackson Braddock and Ethan Wechsler, the defending champ, still battling for the win by the time they hit the final 300 meters on the track.
Braddock ended up with the win at 15:15.9, the first boy Sectional winner in Southern Regional's school history, which would have been a course record if Antzack hadn't already run a 15:11 earlier in the day! Ethan Wechsler just off the old course record himself in second at 15:18.
While Wechsler had to settle for second in the individual race he and his squad did bring home the team title, the first for Cherokee since 2016. Following Wechsler's lead Cherokee scored 42 points and averaged 16:02. Chase Miller fourth, Tyler Jackson sixth, Michael Gavio 14th, and Brett Shea closing out their top five in 16th. This is the ninth overall Sectional win for the Cherokee boys.
- Jackson Braddock 11 Southern Regional HS 15:15.90
- Cherokee HS 42 2+4+6+14+16 (20+36) 1:03 1-5 Split | 16:02 Avg