Aidan Groff American Division winner at 16:05.3.
That did not mean beating the Chiefs was impossible. In fact, his brother Aaron was the last Cougar to win the conference crown in 2015.
On Saturday, Groff joined his older brother as the first male winner of the meet from Cherry Hill East in five years. He outlasted Cherokee's Nico Grilli by just over two seconds to cross the line first.
"It means a lot. There's been a lot of big names that have won this meet," Groff said. "I know nobody from East has won this race since my brother in 2015. It means a lot to win it for the team."
Groff's first-place finish helped the Cougars beat the Chiefs by three points in the team race.
"We've been behind Cherokee so much in the past couple years. It means a lot to finally beat them," Groff said.
"It's great. It gives us so much confidence," Groff said. "We were kind of distracted this week. We didn't know if we were going to have Gabe because of a COVID scare, but fortunately the results came back negative and he was able to race. We were pumped up coming into it and happy to pull out the win."
Alexis Tepper American Division Winner at 19:37.5.
Cherry Hill East swept the American Division individual titles at Dream Park. Alexis Tepper won the girls crown in 19:37.56.
Tepper broke away from the pack and finished with a 10-second advantage over Cherokee's Nicole Clifford. Tepper's strategy was to get out fast to avoid a slow start.
"I know I always start off really slow and pick it up as I go, especially in the last mile," Tepper said. "This time I wanted to maintain a solid pace throughout the race and it worked."
"We had a really big goal coming into today," Clifford said. "We knew it wouldn't be easy with Cherry Hill East, but we're really happy with our performance. Everyone ran really well."
"We just wanted to pack together as much as we could, which is what we did," Clifford said. "We had our two girls right behind me. We wanted to stick together as much as possible and that's what we did."
Billy Clewell National Division winner at 16:57.40.
Clewell was motivated by the competition with rivals Paul VI and Bishop Eustace to create a bit of separation in his showdown with Faust and others.
"I just tried to create separation from the beginning," Clewell said. "He was pretty close to me for the majority of the race, but he pushed me and I was happy about it."
Camden Catholic finished in second behind Paul VI in the team race, but the performance still handed the Irish confidence going into the next few weeks.
"We feel great," Clewell said. "Although we may not come in first, we know we all worked hard today and practiced hard and it translates to the races."
Paul VI freshman Shaelan McNally ran away from the competition in the girls National Division race. She finished in 20:12.09, which was 40 seconds faster than her closest competitor.
McNally and her teammates benefited from a week off to prepare for the race. The Eagles finished on top of the team competition.
"It was really good. We skipped the last race so we could do a hard workout so we would run well in this race," McNally said.
Shaelan McNally National Division winner at 20:12.1.