Cherokee Girls, Kingsway Boys Win Group 4 Relay Titles

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The Cherokee girls put on a sizzling show by burning two US No. 1 times en route to their first title, and Kingsway captured the boys title at Saturday's NJSIAA Group 4 Relays at the Bennett Center in Toms River.   

Cherokee has been on an amazing run since the cross-country season. In November, the Chiefs won the State Group 4 XC title, the Meet of Champions, and the Nike Northeast Regional all for the first time ever. And now they add their first State Relay Championship.

The Chiefs, who outscored runner-up Rancocas Valley, 52-32, got things rolling by reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in the country in the distance medley relay by running 12:12.72. Cherokee added another US No. 1 time in the SMR with a time of 4:10.45, and it also finished first in the 4x800 (9:41.87), and the 4x400 (4:07.10), and placed third in both the pole vault and the 4x200. 

In the DMR, Oklahoma-bound Nicole Clifford spilt 3:39.9 (#1 all-time indoor split in school history), Alison Cooke 60.8, Kelsey Niglio 2:18.4, and Megan Niglio 5:13.4 as the quartet combined on the victory. Cherokee's 12:12.72 is  the fastest time in school history, indoors or indoors. 

Cherokee's SMR squad, which also ran the fastest time in school history (indoors or outdoors), consisted of Kelsey Niglio (60.3), Maddie Van Haren (27.1), Cooke (26.5), and Clifford (2:16.6). Kelsey Niglio (60.0), Cooke (63.4), Kerry O'Day (64.1) and Clifford (59.5) shared the baton for Cherokee in the 4x400, and the Niglio sister, O'Day, and  Clifford ran on the 4x800.

Cherokee's 4x200 team placed third out of the unseeded heat as Van Haren (27.6), Jillian Strauss (28.4), Erin St. John (27.8), and Cooke (26.9) ran 1:50.78. Strauss (9-0) and Isabella Kadar (7-0) combined to get third in the PV.


In the boys competition, Kingsway, clinging to a 32-29 lead over Westfield heading into the 4x400 relay, clinched its fourth title by placing second, one place ahead of Westfield, to secure a 40-35 victory.

Kingsway, which also captured state relay titles in 2014, 2015, and 2020, won one race and placed in six of the nine events on the way to the championship.

The biggest highlight for Kingsway came when the Dragons won the 4x200 in 1:32.59 as Damon Dukes, Benny Liles, Mathias Alexander and Evan Corcoran shared the baton. Kingsway's 4x200 is unbeaten this season and is ranked No. 2 in the state with the school record 1:31.63 it ran at the Hispanic Games at the NY Armory last week. Only East Orange (1:31.62) has run faster among NJ teams.  

Kingsway also placed second in the DMR (10:56.59), third in the SMR, fourth in the 4x800, and fourth in the high jump. 

The hottest race of the meet in the boys competition was the SMR as Westfield blasted a US No. 2 3:37.32 with Union (3:40.01) and Kingsway (3:40.66) finishing 2-3 with the No. 5 and No. 6 fastest time in the country. The only team in the nation that has run faster than Westfield in the SMR s Staples of Connecticut (3:36.73).  

The boys pole vault featured another great performance from the Hillsborough's O'Sullivan brothers as Brian, a junior, cleared 15-0, and Kevin, a senior, made 14-6, to give Hillsborough the victory. Brian is tied for the state lead this season at 15-6, and Kevin is tied for No. 4 at 15-0.