Boys Storylines At NJSIAA State Group Championships

Holmdel Park Course Tour, Filmed 2019

Group Championships Info & Coverage -

 - See Girls Preview - See Predictions -

Here we go!! The greatest day of the season is finally upon us! Get ur Group Cross Country Championships on!!!

It just doesn't get any better than this. Anyone who disagrees should have their pulse checked!

The NJSIAA Meet of Champions (Nov. 12 at Holmdel) is obviously a great event, but it comes and goes way too fast. Nothing compares to the State Group Championship because of the never ending drama that plays out at New Jersey's cross country Cathedral - Holmdel Park, the Holy Grail of NJ XC courses!!

The Group Championship meet this Saturday is NJ cross country's Mardi Gras!!!! Nothing better than seeing fans running all over the course screaming, blowing horns, banging drums. There are students/fans decked out in war paint and dressed in crazy costumes as they show off their school spirit!!

There's are a lot of awesome storylines!!!

Oh, wait a second. 

Before we get into the previews, there is something else to keep an eye on... the weather!!  Hey parents and XC fans, you better climb back into the attic and grab some shorts!! This will be the warmest day ever for the Group Championships, with temps expected to soar into the 70's. Yup, it's hard to believe that it's November in Jersey!

NJ MileSplit will have full results updates, race videos, interviews, photos, and more from NJSIAA Group Championships.

Boys Group Championships Preview


It won't take long for the fireworks to begin as the first race of the day should ignite lots of sparks and leave lots of smoke when No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy and No. 2 and defending champion Union Catholic square off, And the Boler twins from Delbarton, Collin and Brian, who own the two fastest times at Holmdel this season among runners who are competing on Saturday, could make a run at sub 15:20!!!  

Rankings: Holmdel Park Boys Individuals 2022

CBA, ranked No. 5 in the nation, will be looking for some revenge after placing second to UC, ranked No. 11 nationally, at both the Non-Public A meet and the Meet of Champions last year. The rankings are reversed this time as UC was No. 1 and CBA No. 2 heading into this showdown last year.

CBA, seeking to extend its state record to 31 state titles, is coming off a 15:25 average when it won the Shore Conference title on Oct. 20 at Ocean County Park. UC, which won the Non-Public A title and the M of C for the first time last year,  averaged 16:06 when it won the Union County title on Oct. 20 at Warinanco Park.

Coach Sean McCafferty's CBA squad has four of its top five runners (Joe Barrett, Nick Sullivan, Jack Falkowski, and Alex Kemp) back from the Meet of Champs team last year back, and a very strong 5-6-7.

UC Coach Mike McCabe's pack will be without the injured Jimmy Wischusen, the fastest runner in the state this season at Holmdel (15:22), but does return three of its top seven from last year including Ryan Cichocki, Caudell Cajuste, and Evan Weber. Adding Alex Saldana and Sean Wilson give UC a very solid pack!

As with any race, there are lots of different scenarios that could unfold.

Will CBA solidify its status as the top team in the state with a convincing victory? Will UC rise to the challenge and give CBA a run for their money, and possibly pull off the upset? Will both teams run their best races of the season and produce an epic finish?

It remains to be seen how things will play out,  but two things are for certain-this is a can't miss race and these two teams will leave everything they have on the course.

Oh, just in case anyone is wondering, I forgot to mention that the course record average at Holmdel is 15:52.2, set by CBA at the 2013 Meet of Champions. Hey, you never know!!!

Now let's get into just how fast this race can be up front!!

The Boler boys come in as the clear favorites and will most likely dictate whether it will be a fast early pace or not.

Brian Boler ran 15:23 at Holmdel last month when he finished a step behind Wischusen at the Shore Coaches meet. Collin Boler,  coming off a course record 15:04 at Greystone at the Morris County Championships, ran 15:28 when he was third at Shore Coaches.

If the pace is fast and it isn't too warm (thankfully this race is at 9:30 a.m., so weather shouldn't be an issue yet),  the meet record for All Groups combined of 15:16 by the great Jason DiJoseph of Paul VI in 1988, could be threatened.

The Boler's have the talent to make a run at DiJoseph!! But will they chase it? Will one of them break it? Time will tell!


As usual, the Group 4 race is absolutely loaded!! It's a gauntlet of powerhouses!!!

How loaded?? How many powerhouses?

How about 10 teams ranked in the Top 20, six of which won county championships!  And the amount of individual firepower is just ridiculous as seven county champs will toe the line, and there are a bunch of other super fast runners in this field.

Let's take a look at the tale of the tape for the top teams that will be chasing the coveted Group 4 trophy. And remember that this race goes off at 1:30 p.m., when it could be 80 degrees!!! That will be a factor!

Rankings: Top 20 Boys Teams Post-Sectionals

No. 3 Cherokee - The Chiefs are the South Jersey champs, and are seeking its first title since 2019 and its seventh overall. Cherokee defeated Westfield, 80-89 at the Shore Coaches meet, and beat Southern at the sectional.

No. 4  Westfield - set a course record 15:45 at Oak Ridge when it won the North 2 title. The Blue Devils are chasing its first title since winning a third straight in 2011, and they have won a Group 4 record 15 championships.

No. 6 Ridge - The defending champion and the Skyland Conf. and Somerset County champ and , which finished second to Westfield in North 2 has won three state titles (one in Group 2, one in Group 3, and one in Group 4).

No. 11 Southern Regional - The Ocean County champion finished second to Cherokee in SJ. The Rams are seeking their first state title.   

No. 14 Montgomery - The Cougars knocked off three ranked teams when it captured their first sectional title by finishing first in Central Jersey. 

No. 15 Princeton - Placed second, just three points behind Montgomery, in Central. The Tigers have won four state titles, most recently in 2016 when Princeton also captured the Meet of Champions title.     

No. 16 Montclair - The Mounties flew under just about everyone's radar until they knocked off favored Ridgewood, 50-57, to win their first sectional title when they captured the North 1 trophy.  Montclair has never won a state title and has never qualified for the Meet of champions, but with eight wild cards available, Montclair has a shot to grab one and advance.

No. 17 Ridgewood - The Maroons, who finished second to Montclair in North 1, won their two state titles in 1991 and '92.

No. 18 Manalapan - The Braves, who have never won a state title, advanced by placing third behind Montgomery and Princeton in Central, and finishing ahead of Monroe.

No. 19 Monroe Township - The Falcons, the GMC champs, had a rough race at the Central meet when they finished fourth behind Montgomery, Princeton and Manalapan. But it would be a mistake to count out Monroe as a contender to advance. They have the talent to rebound.   

I think this race will boil down to a great battle between Cherokee and Westfield. Cherokee has a great 1-2 punch in Nick Kuenkel and Patrick Ditmars, the top two finishers in the South sectional race. Westfield has a great frontrunner in Avery Keith, and a very tight pack. It should come down to whichever team can close its gaps the most at the back of the pack.

Now let's take a look at all the individual talent up front, which could produce several sub 16 times. But maybe not!! Once again, I remind you to keep in mind that this race will be run in temps in the mid 70's, which will unquestionably hurt the times. I never thought I'd see the day when warm weather would be a major storyline in November!!

With that being said, who will handle the heat the best and cross first.

Junior Nick Kuenkel of Cherokee, the Burlington County and  South Champ, is the favorite based on his 15:56 victory at the Shore Coaches Invitational when he finished ahead of Westfield junior Avery Keith (15:59), and Akshay Vadul of Edison (16:01).

Vadul, the GMC and North 2 winner, ran 15:12, No. 2 in Oak Ridge Park history, when he edged Keith (15:13) at the sectional meet.

While Kuenkel, Vadul, and Keith are the three fastest at Holmdel in this race, there are several runners capable of pulling off the upset. They include Dylan Decambre of Bergen Tech, the Bergen County and North 1 winner,  Union County champ Lucas Reguinho of ElizabethStephen Kyvelos of Manalapan, the Monmouth County and Central Sectional champ, Fabian Ramales of Southern Regional, the Ocean County winner, and Patrick Doran of Ridge, the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Conf. and Somerset County champion. 


One of the best races of the day could very well be the Group 3 showdown between No. 7  Summit, No. 8 North Hunterdon, No. 9 Chatham, and No. 20 Highland Regional

At the North 2 meet last week, Summit edged North Hunterdon on a tiebreaker after both teams scored 57 points, and Chatham was third, just four points behind with 62. Add South Jersey champ Highland into the mix, and this very well could be decided by single digits.

A deeper dive show that Summit's smaller gap between its No. 4 and No. 5 runner, and its 38 second 1-5 spread were huge keys to victory. If Summit can keep its pack that tight again, it will be hard to beat.

Highland averaged 16:15 and looked very impressive in its 14-point win over Ocean City. But for Highland to come out on top it will need to tighten up its pack a bit.   

The other sectionals champs, Colts Neck in Central, and Northern Highlands in North 1, are long shots, but you never know??

Summit won its only state title in 2014. Defending champ North Hunterdon has captured 10 state titles. Chatham hasn't won a state title,  and Highland Reg. has captured two championships with its last one coming in Group 4 in 1994.

Individually, junior Peyton Shute of Gateway/Woodbury has been the favorite all season, and he will be tough to knock off.  Shute won the South title last week in an unpressed 15:17, has run 16:01 at Holmdel this season, and he broke the course records at the Cherokee Challenge and at West Deptford Park.

But look out for Rahway senior Micah Lawson, who is coming off a very impressive victory in 15:20 at the North 2 meet at Oak Ridge. Lawson is rolling right now, and he could be a factor for the individual victory as well.


This race should be dominated by No. 5 ranked Haddonfield as the Dawgs are expected to win their fifth straight title and its 20th overall with the biggest margin of victory of all the boys team champs. That's not a slight against the other teams in this race, it's just that Haddonfield is that strong.

Haddonfield, led by the course record 14:59 by Villanova-bound George Andrus, put its five scorers in the top 10 and averaged 15:52 when it defeated a very good Cinnaminson squad, 22-59, to win the South title.

Cinnaminson and the other sectional champs, Rumson (Central), West Morris (North 2), and Pascack Valley (North 1), will try to dethrone Haddonfield. If they do, it would be the biggest upset of the meet.

Andrus is the heavy favorite to become the ninth Haddonfield boy to win a state championship. Among the runners who will try to knock off Andrus are sectional champs Tadael Mihret of Rutherford (North 2),  Owen Horevay of Lakeland Regional (North 1), and Mark Viggiano of Ocean Township (Central).


One of the toughest races to predict is the boys Group 1 team competition. There just isn't a whole lot separating North 1 winner Kinnelon,  North 2 champ McNair Academic, Central winner Metuchen, and South Jersey kingpin Haddon Township.

Meanwhile, the race for the individual title is a little more clear as Villanova-bound Colin Riley of Dayton HS is favored to win his second straight title.

Let's take a closer look at the four sectional champs.

Kinnelon had five runners in the top 17, averaged 18:00 and had a 1-5 spread of 1:43 at Garret Mountain, the toughest of the four sectional courses.

McNair had five runners in the top 10, averaged 17:24 and had a 1-5 spread of 1:47 at Oak Ridge. 

Metuchen had five runners in the top 15,  and averaged 17:58 with a 1-5 split of 1:33 at Thompson Park.

Haddon Township, which won in 2018 and 2019, put its five scorers in the top 14, averaged 17:12 at Dream Park, and had a 1-5 split of 1:00.

Haddon Township's compression makes them the favorite, but this could go a couple different ways.

Kinnelon is seeking its first title since 1970, and McNair is chasing its first state titles. Metuchen has won five championships, most recently capturing a second straight in 2016, and Haddon Township has racked up 13 state championships across Group 1, 2, and 3.

Individually, Riley is a big favorite to win again. He ran 15:54 when he was 12th at the Meet of Champions last year, won the Central title in an un-pushed 16:17, and he finished 33 seconds ahead of Ian Zalewski of Verona when he finished first at the Shore Coaches Invitational.

Zalewski, the North 2 winner, in 16:12 and the Essex County champ, probably represents Riley's strongest challenger. Also keep an eye on North 1 winner Andrew Garcia of Kinnelon, and South winner Elijah Whitaker of Glassboro


Both defending champions will be missing in this race. 

Newark Academy, which won the last three Non-Public B titles, has moved to Non-Public A this season, and Brian Theobald of St. Rose, the 2021 champ, won't be racing because of an injury.

This is a tough one to score on paper because of Theobald's absence, but St. Rose has the talent to overcome the loss of its top gun, and is still the favorite.

St. Rose averaged 18:07 and had a 1-5 compression of 1:11 at the Monmouth County Championships at Holmdel, but that was with Theobald. Without Theobald, St. Rose averaged 17:11 and had a 1-5 spread of 1:45 without Theobald at the Shore Conference Championships at Ocean County Park. 

Individually, without Theobald in the race, Jeremy Sallade of The Wilberforce School looks like the favorite. Sallade finished third at the Mercer County Championships, and has run 17:03 at Holmdel this season.


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