McCabe Named National Girls Coach Of Year By USTFCCCA

Mike McCabe, Union Catholic's head track and field coach, made history on Thursday when he was named the National Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

McCabe, selected as the N.J. Girls T&F Coach of the Year for the sixth straight time this past year by the USTFCCCA, is the first coach from New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic Region (boys or girls) to be selected by the USTFCCCA as a National Coach of the Year.

"I am honored to be selected National Girls track and field coach of the year by the USTFCCCA,'' said McCabe, who was also be inducted into Union Catholic's Hall of Fame next month.  "This was the most balanced team in Union Catholic history. It was a pleasure to coach this group during such a challenging year. I want to thank my coaching staff, athletes and parents for all they have done to make this possible.''

McCabe, who just completed his 18th season as head coach at UC, will be honored in December at the USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Florida, which will be held at the Grande Lakes Resort.

During this past outdoor season, McCabe's girls team flexed its amazing display of balance to smash multiple meet scoring records as the Vikings steamrolled their way to a sixth straight undefeated season to solidify its status as the No. 1 team in New Jersey. 

The Vikings captured the Union County Relay title, the Union County Track and Field Championship, and the State Non-Public A title each for the sixth straight time, and ran the fastest times in the state in three relays, were ranked in the top eight in the state in every relay, and earned several All-American honors at the Nike National Championships.

UC finished the campaign with the No. 1 time in the state in the 4x200 (1:41.99), the No. 1 time in the state in the shuttle hurdles (59.49), the No. 1 time in the state in the sprint medley (4:02.25), the No. 2 time in the state in the 4x100 (47.70), the No. 2 time in the state in the 4x800 (9:01.49), the No. 2 time in the state in the 4x200 (3:52.29), and the No. 8 time in the state in the distance medley (12:43.43). Additionally, juniors Jada Mia Puryear (40-8 1/2 in the shot put) and Daniela Peralta (126-1 in the javelin) both shattered school records.

Just how balanced and dominate was the attack for the Vikings?

At the Union County Relays, the Vikings won seven events, scored in the top three in all 16 events, and racked up a mind-blowing 138 points. That's just 22 away from a perfect score. And at the Union County T&F Championships, UC rolled up 83 points in the field and 81 on the track to win the meet with 164 points, 100 more than the runner-up.

It was more of the same at the State Non-Public A Championships when the Vikings won nine events, scored in every event, and rang up 189 points to shatter the All Groups meet record (all Groups combined) of 179 points that the Vikings scored in 2019. To give you an idea of just how impressive that performance is, the maximum number of points that can be scored in the 18 events is 390. That means the Vikings scored 48.5 percent of all the possible points!

"We've had incredible teams over the years -- 2015 comes to mind, when we started this little run, because we had Sydney McLaughlin and our 4×400 went 3:35 -- but this one stands out because of how much depth we had across all event areas," said McCabe. "How many coaches can say they had athletes score in every single event of a state meet? That's unheard of. I still can't wrap my head around it."

At the national level, the Vikings were just as impressive as 12 different girls earned All-American honors in seven relays at the Nike Nationals last month at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

On the first day of competition at Nike Nationals, the Vikings got off to a fast start when junior Nick Givan split a PR of 48.68 when he ran down the Lions Track Club to give UC the victory in the mixed 4x400 (two boys and two girls). Givan crossed the line in 3:34.66, just ahead of the Lions TC, second in 3:34.80. UC's' first three runners were sophomore Maameyaa Nyinah (58.3), Connor Cooper (50.5), and junior Asydiah Pray-Brown (58.86).

The following day, the Vikings placed third in the girls 4x200 as sophomore Leah Gould, junior Sydney McDonald, senior Avery Jordan, and sophomore Ajanae Thompson combined to run 1:43.20, and McDonald, Jordan, Thompson, and senior A'Liyah Thomas teamed up to run a NJ#2 47.70 in the 4x100 to qualify for the final. In the 4x100 final, UC placed fourth in 48.06.

UC also girls picked up two third-place finishes on day three. Senior Morgan Williams (2:15.21), Pray-Brown (2:16.45), Nyinah (2:18.19), and sophomore Kaleigh Gunsiorowski.(2:11.64) combined to finish third in 9:01.49, the 12th fastest time in NJ history. UC also placed third in the shuttle hurdles when Thompson, Jordan, sophomore Alexandra Bonn, and Thomas ran a NJ#4 all-time 59.49, just over a second off the state record of 58.30 that UC ran to place fourth at the 2018 New Balance Nationals.

Then on the final day of the National Championship, the UC put an exclamation point on their remarkable showing by producing one of the rarest feats ever accomplished at a national meet when the Vikings flexed its remarkable depth by placing two teams in the top five in the sprint medley relay. That's right, eight different runners (seven underclassmen) produced a 2-5 finish with times of 4:02.25 and 4:09.05! UC's runner-up squad consisted of Gould, Thompson, Pray-Brown (57.75 for 400), and Gunsiorowski (2:13.73 for 800), junior Ashlee Okunonke, Bonn, Williams (58.54 for 400), and freshman Leilani Gibson (2:17.70 for 800) ran on the fifth-place SMR team.

McCabe said one of the biggest keys to his success is that his athletes have a passion for winning and maintaining the tradition of excellence that UC program has built.      

"We've been so successful for a while that we instill a mentality in our team that, 'Everybody is coming for us. You have to bring your 'A' game, because everybody else will be," McCabe said. "Our girls buy in each year, because they want to continue the run and the tradition that we've built here over the years."



(All 3 Seasons Combined) 

277 - All-Americans

91 - National Champions (including athletes that ran on relays) 

61 - Union County Titles (33 boys / 28 girls)

51 - Number of seasons coached (XC / indoor and outdoor combined) 

47 - NJ Meet of Champions Titles (30 individuals / 17 relays)

29 - Union County Conference Titles (19 boys / 10 girls) 

26 - State Titles (19 girls / 7 boys)

18- Number of years as the head coach at Union Catholic.

15 - Current State Records (14 girls, one boys): Note-UC held 4 other state records that have since been broken. 

7 - The number of years since UC's girls lost to a NJ team (last loss was at the Outdoor Non-Public A State Championships in 2014 when UC placed 5th)

4 - Current National Records (all girls). Note: UC held one other national record that has been broken.

2 - National Team Titles (2013, 2014 - Boys Indoors)