Union Catholic, Barna, Shapiro Torch Course At RunningLane

Results From Garmin RunningLane XC Championships

On a day that will go down as the fastest and one of the greatest in U.S. high school cross-country history, New Jersey produced plenty of smoke as the Union Catholic boys, Jackson Barna and Lilly Shapiro torched the course at John Hunt Park with historic performances at Saturday's Garmin RunningLane Championships in Huntsville, Alabama.

This meet, which featured many of the top teams and runners in the country, served as the unofficial National Championships after the Nike Team Nationals were cancelled. 

Union Catholic, which came into the race ranked No. 1 in NJ and No. 7 in the U.S., dropped the biggest bomb for the Garden State when the Vikings capped off one of the best seasons in state history by putting three guys under 15 minutes, including the fastest sophomore time ever by Jimmy Wischusen, and becoming the fastest team in NJ history with a jaw-dropping 15:02.72 average on its way to a fourth--place finish with 299 points in the gold division race.

The lightning fast course combined with the deep talent pool of runners produced many of the fastest times ever run in U.S. history, and hundreds of PR's were set. 

Just how fast was it? Check out these mind-bending numbers!

In the gold races alone, 71 boys dipped under the 15 minute mark, and 128 girls broke 18!

The boys gold race was won by US#1 Newbury Park of California, which threw down the fastest race in high school history by sweeping the top three places with the three fastest high school XC times ever run on the way to a mind-blowing average of 14:14, the fastest in U.S. history. 

Newbury's 1-2-3 of Colin Sahlman (14:03.29), Leo Young (14:05.07), and Lex Young (14:05.49), and fourth-place finisher Zane Bergen of Niwot (Colo.), who ran 14:09.91, all ran under the former all-time fastest time of 14:10.4 set in 2000 by Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford, Michigan at the Michigan State Championships at the Michigan International Speedway. 

NJ's top guns made a huge dent on the all-time lists.  

The Georgetown-bound Barna, a senior at Ridge, finished eighth in the gold race in 14:22.14, the third fastest time ever run in NJ high school history. UC's Shane Brosnan was 13th in 14:25.64, No. 4 in state history, and, according to the MileSplit data base, UC's Wischusen became the fastest sophomore in U.S. history by placing 16th in 14:33.94. 

The 14:33.94 by Wischusen broke the national sophomore record of 14:34.17 set in 2020 by Isaac Teeples of Kamiakin High School in Washington when he won the Mid-Columbia Conference League Championship meet at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick, WA. Teeples was 10th in Saturday gold race in 14:23.78. 

The only NJ runner to ever go faster in a 5K XC race than Barna, Brosnan or Wischusen is the legendary Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict's Prep. Cheserek, widely considered the best high school distance runner in U.S. history, owns the state's two fastest XC 5K times ever run of 14:18.7 in 2012 and 14:20. in 2011, both coming when he won the Essex County Championship race at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield.

As for the rest of UC's crew, after the dynamic duo of Brosnan and Wischusen, senior Myles Plummer was 68th in 14:59.65, junior Caudell Cajuste placed 196th in 15:37.26, and junior Ryan Cichocki finished 198th in 15:37.26. Freshman Evan Weber (16:24.82) and sophomore Josh Hunsinger (17:23.84) were the No. 6 and No. 7 runners for UC.  

UC's five-man average of 15:02.72 broke the state record for the fastest 5K average on any course by a NJ team of 15:03.78 that was set by Christian Brothers Academy at the 2013 Shore Conference Championships at Ocean County Park.

In the girls competition, Colts Neck's Lilly Shapiro finished 13th in 16:51, the third fastest time ever run by a NJ girl. Only Janet Smith of J.P. Stevens, who ran 16:44 when she won the 1983 Foot Locker National title at Balboa Park in San Diego, and Angelina Perez of Lakeland, who ran 16:44 in the Independence Division race at the Big North Championships this past October, have run faster than the North Carolina-bound Shapiro.

Led by Shapiro, NJ# 3 Colts Neck finished  24th with 563 points, one place ahead of NJ#2 Ridgewood, 25th with 561 points.   

Shapiro, second to Perez at the M of C, along with Brosnan, third at the M of C, will conclude their remarkable high school careers when they compete at the Eastbay National Championships next Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego.