Cherokee and CHE Split, Ruona Wins At Olympic Batch Meet

Full Results | Photos | Team Results

Cherokee and Cherry Hill East, two of the best programs in the state, dominated the day by splitting the boys and girls Varisty 1 titles in a pair of great showdowns, Cole Kolodziej won a dramatic three-man battle, and Nico Grilli and Kate Ruona ran the fastest times at Saturday's Olympic Conference Batch Meet at DREAM Park in Logan Township.

Boys Merge | Girls Merge

The best team race of the day came in the girls Varsity 1 as unranked Cherokee and NJ#13 Cherry Hill East hooked up in a dandy.

With the score deadlocked at 21-21 after each team had four runners across, Cherokee's freshman Olivia Parkinson finished 10th in 21:15 and CHE's Sabrina Rounds was 11th in 21:24 to give Cherokee the heart-pounding 31-32 upset victory. Cherokee and CHE combined for 10 of the top 11 finishers in the race.   

Cherokee's top five went 2-5-6-8-10 and averaged 20:44 and Cherry Hill East finished 1-4-7-9-11 and averaged 20:45. 

Cherry Hill East sophomore Alexis Tepper won the race in 19:57, finishing 16 seconds ahead of Cherokee junior Nicole Clifford.

The other scorers for Cherokee, which had just one senior in its top seven, were sophomore Kelsey Niglio, 5th in 20:35, and three freshmen, Kerry O'Day, 6th in 20:39, Alaina Bromley, 8th in 20:57, and Parkinson.

The rest of the scorers for CHE behind Clifford were senior MaryKathleen McCurdy, 4th in 20:23, junior Madison McNiff, 7th in 20:49, sophomore Inesa Grace Linker, 9th in 21:12, and Rounds.

In a clash of state powerhouses in the boys Varsity 1 race, NJ#4 Cherry Hill East had a 1-5 compression of 46 seconds, averaged 16:38, and put six runners ahead of the fourth runner for NJ#12 Cherokee on the way to a very impressive 25-38 victory.

Kate Ruona ran the fastest time of the meet at 19:23.

Related: Week 1 Results & Coverage Hub

Grilli, a senior at Cherokee, won the race in 16:11, but then CHE went 2-3-4-7-9 to clinch the victory.

CHE's top five were senior Aidan Groff,  second in 16:17, senior Gabe Rodriguez, third in 16:20, Aidan Eyre, fourth in 16:39, sophomore Mike McCurdy, seventh in 16:51, and junior Dylan Hagan, ninth in 17:04. 

Cherokee's scorers behind Grilli were senior Brett Shea, 6th in 16:48, sophomore Conor Jacob, 8th in 16:54, senior Dylan Odud, 11th in 17:22, and sophomore Patrick Ditmars, 12th in 17:47. Cherokee averaged 17:00.

The Division 2 competition featured an epic finish in the boys race between Kolodziej, a senior at Washington Township, Julian Lawson, also a senior at Washington Township, and Shawnee senior John Ruona.

How close was it?

All three were clocked in 16:38!! Kolodziej was first with an FAT time of 16:38.19, Lawson second in 16:38.75, and Ruona third in 16:38.92.

Kolodziej and Lawson's 1-2 frontal attack sparked Washington Township to a 1-2-5-6-9 finish and a 23-50 victory over Shawnee.  The others three scorers in Washington's strong pack were junior Chris Colavita, fifth in 17:03, senior Mason Brewster, sixth in 17:13, and junior Nate Kidwell, ninth in 17:40.

On the girls side, Ruona, a talented sophomore, blew the race apart with a winning time of 19:23, nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up Emma Klouchek of Seneca was second in 20:58.

Ruona's victory helped lead Shawnee to the team title, 39-51 over Washington Township. Shawnee put its seven runners in before Washington's No. 4 runner to secure the victory.