Shute Shatters CR, Haddonfield Sweeps Colonial Conference

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The Colonial Conference Championship was highlighted by Peyton Shute's record-shattering showing. With a time of 15:24 the Gateway-Woodbury junior won by an astounding 23 seconds, broke the West Deptford course record by 20 seconds, and set a four second personal record.

Just a week before at this same course Shute ran a time of 15:44 during the Gloucester County Championship.

The new course record holder stated his opponents played an important role in his strategy change. "That meet at Gloucester County, I went out hard to try and get a little bit of separation and then relax a bit that last mile. This meet, I went out more relaxed with the leaders and then after the first mile, I pushed it a bit during the slight downhill on the second mile, and I really worked that last 1,000 meters as hard as I could trying to get to the finish."

Shute is looking to use his favored grit and grind strategy during the upcoming postseason. "I definitely want to be the Group 3 State Champion: that is my number one goal and that is what I'm most focused on," Shute declared. "For Meet of Champs I'd definitely love to see myself in the top 5, and I'm going to race the Eastbay Regionals out in New York and hopefully I can make it out to Nationals in San Diego." While Shute's standards may seem high, these goals are not out of the Woodbury legend's wheelhouse.

In addition to Shute's historic display, the Haddonfield Memorial HS boys added another Colonial Conference Championship team title to the team's historic resume.

The boys were paced by George Andrus, who has recently made his verbal commitment to Villanova University, finished 2nd in the boys varsity race with a time of 15:47. Andrus was followed by teammates Rob DiMedio, Donald Jellig, Ian Romea and Matt Sulllivan, who all placed inside the top 10 and ran under 17 minutes (5, 7, 8, 10).

The Haddonfield Memorial HS girls won the Colonial Conference Championship as well, and in dominating fashion. Junior Ava Thomas won the individual title with a 36-second PR of 18:43. Thomas's teammates, Riley Austin, Audrey Naticchia and Helene Usher continued the line of Haddonfield finishers, earning the remaining top 4 spots while Dylan Melcher and Sarah Fetter finished 8th and 9th to seal the deal for the Bulldawgs.

Going into the championship race, Haddonfield were ranked second in the state, with a 1-5 split of just 41 seconds. With this immense squad depth, Ava Thomas believes that is what pushes not just the team's success, but her individual success as well. "I think that has everything to do with it, because I have all these people to push me and make me better. Just doing workouts together, it's inspiring to have so many other people do it with me and we're all just getting better together. That's really why we've all improved so much... We're all around the same fitness level. If they can do this I can do this. It's really encouraging to be able to push together, work together and race together."

Thomas and her fellow Bulldawgs won the Conference Championship 18-59 against Haddon Heights with an average of 19:13.