Course records by Marco Langon and Cassidy Roop, four team sweeps, a remarkable showing by the Skyland Conference, historic victories, and repeat champions highlighted an electrifying day of racing at the North Jersey, Section 2 Championships on Saturday at Oak Ridge Park in Clark.
The meet was a giant victory party for the Skyland Conference, which won six of the eight team titles, and captured three individual titles! Three schools from the Skyland Conference, North Hunterdon, Ridge, and Voorhees, swept team titles, and Hasbrouck Heights grabbed both titles in Group 1. Four team sweeps is unheard of in one sectional!!!
More on these amazing broom jobs later.
Let's get into the most eagerly anticipated showdown of the season between Langon and Jackson Barna of Ridge, the two top runners in the state all season. The two undefeated runners were together for half the race before Langon pulled away over the final mile before charging across the line to win the Group 4 race in 15:02, shaving seven seconds off the course record of 15:09 that he set at the Bernie Magee Class Meet in September.
The Georgetown-bound Barna, who was leading Langon by a step at the halfway mark, wound up fourth in 15:56. According to Ridge coach Nicole Gilhuley, Barna told her he was dealing with a cramp during the race.
While Roop was excited to become the new course record holder, she was even more ecstatic to help lead her team win its seventh straight sectional title to send head coach Sean Walsh out on top. North Hunterdon won the last six sectional titles in Group 4.
Adam Angelone of Madison pulled off a rare feat when the senior at Madison won his third straight title in Group 2 by running a 1 huge PR of 15:36 to edge Tavaglione by four seconds. Angelone is just the seventh boy in NJ. Sec. 2 history to win three straight titles.
Brandon Chen of West Morris won his second straight Group 3 title and broke his school record with his time of 15:43. Chen's time broke the school record for any course of 15:46 that was set by Luke Lusskin at the 2018 Morris County Championships at Greystone.
Brooke Hunter of Philipsburg continued her amazing rookie season on the trails by making history in the Group 4 race when the junior crossed first and stopped the clock at 18:44. Hunter is the first runner from Phillipsburg (boy or girl) to ever win a sectional XC title, and her 18:43 is the fastest time ever run by Phillipsburg girl on an course!
Hunter was a star on the P-Burg's field hockey team, but always loved running and decided to give it a try this year. Hunter is certainly a rare and remarkable talent. Not many first year runners crack 19 and win a sectional title!
Tara Kibbe, a junior at Lyndhurst, also made history when she won the Group 2 race in 19:31. Kibbe is the first girl from Lyndhurst to capture a sectional XC title.
Kibbe is a great story. A soccer player until last year, Kibbe, fifth in the sectional last fall, only started running last year when she was looking for something to do during the quarantine to stay in shape for soccer. Now she's a sectional XC champ!!
In the girls Group 1 race, Cedar Grove senior Tara Smurla, determined to improve on her 7th place finish last year after placing 5th as a sophomore. etched her name in school record book by becoming the first girl from her school to take home a sectional cross-country crown. Smurla won the race in 19:39.