UC Pulls Off Historic Sweep, Wischusen Breaks CR At Union

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Union Catholic's supremacy in Union County continued in mind-blowing and record-smashing fashion when the Vikings produced perhaps the most stunning and jaw-dropping team sweep at any county championship meet in state history on Thursday.

The UC boys and girls took down both course record averages, and Jimmy Wischusen of UC crushed the course record when the Vikings lit up the 3.19-mile course with a dazzling daily double for the ages at the 86th Union County Championships at historic Warinanco Park in Elizabeth.

It was the fourth straight title for the UC boys, ranked No. 3 in the state, who upset No. 2 Westfield, and the UC girls, ranked No. 1 in NJ and No. 9 nationally, won its third straight title in what their coach called the greatest girls performance in state history.

This marks the second straight race that UC's boys and girls smashed course records. They also did it at the Union County Conference Championships at Oak Ridge Park last week.

I can't think of any program in NJ history that has accomplished the boy/girl course record average sweep at the same county meet. It really is an all-time great double! Utterly astounding!      


The biggest questions heading into this race were how much Union Catholic would break the course record average by, and whether the Vikings could earn a very rare shutout victory.

The answer to the first question is 36 seconds!!! Yes, that's how much time the Vikings sliced off the CR average when the top five averaged 18:18!!!! The former record of 18:54 was set by UC last year. You read that right!

All five scorers for UC ran under the course record average! That's just ridiculous!   

UC's 18:18 is the second fastest CR average in NJ history by a girls team on any course!!! The only NJ that with a faster average is Colts Neck, who ran 18:16 at the 2021 Shore Conference Championships at Ocean County Park, which is a little shorter and even flatter than Warinanco.

As for the second question? 


The Vikings blitzed the competition by becoming just the third girls team in meet history to pitch a shutout with a 1-2-3-4-5-6-8 finish for 15 points! You read that right. UC put its seven runners in the top eight!!

The only other girls team to hang 15 points at the county meet are Westfield's 1995 and '96 squads, coached by the late Thom Hornish.

Senior Peyton Hollis led the epic showing for the Vikings by winning her second straight title in 17:52, the third fastest time in course history. The Duke-bound Hollis, who opened a gap with a big surge the second mile, was just off the course record of 17:49 that she set last year. Freshman phenom Paige Sheppard was second in 17:55, the fourth fastest time in course history, senior Courtney Kaiser was third in 18:09, No. 5 all-time at Warinanco, freshman Caleigh Kaiser placed fourth in 18:45, freshman Kayla Devine was fifth in 18:52, sophomore Ella Solorzano finished sixth in 18:57, and sophomore Emmy O'Hearn placed eighth in 19:30.

UC coach Mike McCabe put his girls teams performance into historical perspective.

"I think this is the best performance by a NJ team ever,'' said McCabe. They ran 18:18 and we put 7 in the top 8. No other team has ever dominated a county race like that while running that fast. That was just an amazing performance. Our top three went our hard and kept pushing and everyone ran exactly the way we hoped.''


For the second straight year, UC and Westfield clashed in an instant classic as the two national powers practically turned the race into a dual meet, and for the second straight UC pulled off the upset victory. 

The University of Virginia-bound Wiscushen led the charge for the Vikings with a masterful and electrifying performance by dropping a grenade on the course, stopping the clock at a mind-numbing 15:12 to destroy the course record!! That's 16 seconds faster than the former CR of 15:28 set in 2021 by UC's Shane Brosnan, now running at Harvard.

Wischusen led a 1-3-4-5-13 scoring combination for the Vikings that totaled 26 points. Westfield countered with a 2-6-8-9-10 for 35 points. UC and Westfield took 14 of the top 16 places in a race that featured 5 guys under 15:51!!

There was so much firepower in this race that UC and Westfield produced the two fastest averages in course history. UC averaged 15:46 and Westfield ran 15:59! The former record of 16:02 was set by UC in 2021. That same 2021 UC team averaged 16:01 when it won the Meet of Champions title.

On paper, Westfield had the edge after averaging 16:22 at Bowdoin Park and 16:08 at Holmdel this season, but UC ran its best race of the season and received career best races from seniors Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, third in 15:49, and Sean Wilson, fourth in 15:49. The finishes by Alvarez-Tullo, Wilson, and Alex Saldano, fifth in 15:50, proved to be the key to victory for UC as the Vikings were able to put 4 runners ahead of Westfield's No. 2 man. Junior Aidan Cichocki also came up big for UC by placing 13th in 16:11 to seal the deal.

The course record was especially satisfying for Wischusen, who missed this race last year with an injury after placing second as a sophomore in 2021 with a time of 15:39.

Wischusen was locked in a tight duel with Westfield senior Avery Keith when they both went through the mile in 4:43. But Wischusen cranked out a 4:39 second mile to open a gap on Keith, who finished second in 15:42. In the second half of the race, Wischusen was chasing Brosnan and racing the clock as he ran himself into the history book and became the King of Warinanco! Wischusen pointed at the clock in celebration as he came charging across the line.

McCabe called the victory by his pack the biggest upset ever for the Vikings.

"It's the biggest upset victory our boys have ever had,'' said McCabe. "Westfield is such a great team and we knew it would take our best race to beat them. I wasn't sure what to expect. I really wanted our guys to mix it up and go after it, and they responded with their best race, especially over the last 1K when they poured it on and finished strong to close it out. I'm really proud of how the guys raced. The stepped up to the challenge.''