The Union Catholic girls knew it was just a matter of time before they all clicked on the same day and executed their race plans to deliver an epic performance.
That time came on Saturday night when junior Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, junior Maameyaa Nyinah, senior Asydiah Pray-Brown, and sophomore Peyton Hollis combined to run 8:54.67, the third fastest time in NJ history, to win the 4x800 at the New Balance National Championships at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
The only two teams to run faster in NJ history are Columbia, which ran 8:45.37 to finish first at the 2014 Penn Relays, and Southern Regional, which ran 8:52.80 to finish first at the 2009 Nike National Championships.
The victory avenged a loss at the New Balance Indoor Nationals to the Purple Track Club of Michigan, who finished second in 9:01.66. The Purple Track Club won the matchup with UC at the NB indoor meet with a winning time of 8:51.93 with UC second in 8:53.69.
But this time Union Catholic, knowing that the Purple Track Club was using the same four runners that ran on its winning 4xmile team on Thursday and on its victorious DMR team on Friday, went out aggressively to make the Purple Track Club work hard early. The strategy worked.
Gunsiorowski blasted out to quick early lead and set the tone for the race with a strong 2:13.52 leadoff leg that resulted in a three second lead over the Charlotte Country Day Track Club of North Carolina. The Purple Track Club was four seconds back.
Nyinah then ran 2:13.84 for UC and handed off to Pray-Brown with 1.5 second edge on Charlotte Country Day. Pray Brown split 2:18.76, but Charlotte Country Day was able to take a two second lead on Union Catholic at the final handoff.
That's when Hollis went to work and wasted not time jumping to the front and then throwing down the hammer as she split 2:08.57 to pull away for the seven second win over the Purple Track Club.