Girls Group Recap: Haddonfield, Freehold Twp, Clearview Win

Haddonfield put on a remarkable show,  Freehold Township and Clearview won its first titles, and Monmouth County ran wild on a hot and humid day at the NJSIAA Group Championships on Saturday at Holmdel Park.

Let's get right into all of the incredible highlights that made this one of the most memorable Group Championship meets ever!!!

Girls Group Championships Recap

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Group 2 Results

The best girls team performance of the meet came from No. 2 ranked Haddonfield, who put on another pack-running clinic to runway with its second straight Group 2 championship and its 11th overall.  That's the third most titles in state history for a girls program.  RBC (20) and Bernards (12) are the only programs to win more.

The Dawgs, which had the biggest margin of victory on the day with their 36-105 victory over No. 6 Rumson had a remarkable 1-5 compression of 19 seconds and averaged 19:36. It's even more impressive when you consider that it was close to 70 degrees during the race.

Haddonfield top five finished 5-6-7-8-11!!! They were junior Audrey Naticchia (19:30), freshman Riley Austin (19:31), junior Ava Thomas (19:34), senior Helene Usher (19:36), and junior Riley Slootsky (19:49).

Haddonfield, which pitched a perfect score of 15 when it won the SJ title last week, will head into the Meet of Champions race next Saturday as the favorite. Haddonfield, which finished well ahead in the merge scoring, has never won a M of C title. It finished as the No. 1 team in the state in 2020, but the M of C wasn't held that year due to Covid.

Individually, Morgan Uhlhorn of Lakeland was the surprise winner of the race as the senior dropped a massive Holmdel Park PR to win in 19:01. Uhlhorn came into the race with a 20:15 Holmdel PR. She is the second straight runner from Lakeland to win this race, following the great Angelina Perez, who is now running a freshman at the University of Florida.

"When the season started I never really thought this could happen,'' said Uhlhorn. "But after I won the last week (North Jersey, Sec. 1) I started to think that maybe this was possible. But it's just so surreal to think that I'm a state champion. This is just amazing, something that I will never forget.

Uhlhorn said the unseasonably warm temps didn't bother her, and the hills at Holmdel aren't and issue.

"I like running when it's hot,'' she said. "I always seem to always run well in the heat. And I run much tougher hills when I train, so the hills here don't bother me. I love running here."


Group 4 Results

Some of greatest moments of the meet were watching Freehold Township and Clearview celebrate winning its first state titles.

Freehold Township, ranked No. 3 in the state, continued its greatest season ever when the Patriots scored a 67-144 victory over No. 7 Ridgewood to win the Group 4 title.

Junior Emma Zawatski won the race in 18:44 for Freehold Township, which put five runners ahead of the No. 3 runner for Ridgewood and put all five scorers in the top 28.

Freehold Township went crazy when they were announced as the winner, and during the celebration sophomore Sophia Briggs, the daughter of head coach Todd Briggs, held the trophy up over her head and yelled out, "we made history.''

The top five for Freehold Township's all underclassmen squad were Zawatski, junior Ava Biemuller, sixth in a Holmdel PR of 19:53, sophomore Leah Rutledge, 24th with a course PR of 20:39, junior Heather Feinstein,  28th with a Holmdel PR of in 20:42, and Briggs, 43rd in 20:14. 

Clearview made its history in Group 3 when the No. 4 team in state used a strong frontal attack to defeat No. 8 North Hunterdon, 57-82. No. 5 Northern Highlands finished third with 85. Clearview averaged school course record 20:07.

It's been a magical season for Clearview, who made a huge jump after placing 11th in this race a year ago.

Abigail Waddington (19:10), Abigail Kotran (19:32), and Margaret Wisniewski (20:01) finished 2-6-12 for Clearview, which averaged 20:07. Cleavrview's No. 4 and No. 5 runners were junior Allison Roe, 24th in 20:40, and senior Aubrey Donahue, 37th in 21:16.   


Non-Public B Results

Wilberforce pulled off a stunner in the Non-Public B race by upsetting No. 10 Villa Walsh to win its second straight state title, 43-54 over Villa Walsh. Wilberforce finished 4-6-8-10-15 and averaged 21:03. Villa Walsh went 5-7-11-13-18 and averaged 21:29.

The top five runners for Wilberforce were sophomore Adeline Edwards (20:23), senior Sophia Park (20:37), freshman Laura Sallade (20:52), sophomore Gwen Mersereau (21:11), and senior Abigail Readlinger (22:12).   


Group 1 Results

Monmouth County flexed its distance dominance by winning four of the six individual titles, including three repeat champs.

Cate DeSousa of RBC won her second straight Non-Public A title in 18:42, the fastest time of the meet. The University of Virginia-bound DeSousa made a hard charge over the final mile to pull away from All-Stater Lindsay Hausman of Kent Place to secure the victory.

Senior Tilly O'Connor of St. Rose, who is headed to Villanova, also won for the second straight year when she ran 19:01 to successfully defend her Non-Public B championship.

Megan Donlevie of Shore Regional, who is headed to Rutgers, took the Group 1 title for the second straight year in 19:36 to lead her team to its second straight championship and sixth overall.

Junior Emma Zawatski of Freehold Township, the 1,600 winner at the Meet of Champions last spring, won the Group 4 race in 18:44, the second fastest time of the day.


Group 3 Results

Liliah Gordon became Northern Burlington's first state champion when the sophomore ran 18:57 to capture the Group 3 title. Gordon, second last year to Lilly Shapiro of Colts Neck, was the fourth fastest runner of the day behind DeSousa, Zawatski, and Hausman.

Gordon, who took control of the race right from the start and led all the way, won the race by 13 seconds over Clearview's Abigail Waddington.

Gordon knows the Meet of Champions race will be much faster, and she's looking forward to the challenge.

"I think it might take a time around 18:10 to win,'' said Gordon, who ran 18:29 to finish eighth at the M of C last year.


Non-Public A Results

Union Catholic came into the Non-Public A race as the No. 1 ranked team in the state and a huge favorite to win its second straight title.

The Vikings successfully defended their title as expected, but it came with some misfortune as UC had to overcome the loss of junior star Peyton Hollis.

Hollis, running in her first XC season, came into the race undefeated and was one of the favorites. But unfortunately she had to drop out of the race just past the top of the bowl with a leg injury.

Union Catholic still had enough firepower to defeat No. 11 Kent Place, 52-88, to repeat as champions and win its fourth title overall. And the Vikings still managed to average 20:17 and finish second in the team merge to Haddonfield.

The top five for the Vikings were senior Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, fifth in 19:11, junior Courtney Kaiser, eighth in 20:00, freshman Emmy O'Hearn, 9th in 20:17, junior Leilani Gibson, 10th in 20:24,, and senior Victoria Urbaez, 17th in 20:56.  



Looking ahead to the Meet of Champions next Saturday at Holmdel Park, this is the most wide open race for the girls individual title in several years. So many runners have a good shot at winning. DeSousa, Zawatski, O'Connor, Gordon, and Kent Place's Lindsay Hausman, the Non-Public A runner-up, are the strongest contenders. If Hollis is healthy enough to run, she would be a contender as well.