XC Weekend - Megan Venables Roars at Belmont Plateau!


It took Highland Regional's Megan Venables exactly 17:36.4 to make a clear statement to the XC pundits out there. Venables, a senior, who has run 18:01 at Holmdel, smashed the previous CR on the challenging Belmont Plateau layout this past Saturday at the Briarwood Invitational.  Venables became the first female athlete ever to dip under 18 minutes at Belmont erasing Jessica Cickay's record of 18:26 set in 2001 by a startling 47 seconds.

This is the second year in a row that a Jersey runner has broken a course record at the famed Philly course. Last year it was Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North who wrecked the boys’ CR. Rosa's coach Brian Gould was in attendance to watch his sister run and later commented on the feat.  Said Gould, "I was here to see my little sister run. I was very impressed. Megan ran great.  She showed absolutely no fear during the race".   He continued, "I would say that Megan's race today was as impressive as Joe's last year...maybe more impressive."

Megan spoke about the race with our senior writer, Joe Lanzalotto, after the historic run. When asked about her training she said that her summer mileage had been around 65 miles per week and that she had incorporated some weight training into her routine for the first time. Her mileage for the week leading up to the race was 50; she will be increasing that to 70 next week.

When asked about the race , Venables made the following observations;

* She was unaware of the CR for Belmont Plateau, but knew she would have to run fast to beat PA super soph Sara Sargent of Pennsbury.

* If there were clocks on the course, Megan did not see them so she had no idea what the pace was.

* She trailed Sargent by approximately 5 seconds at the mile mark, but pulled even at 2 miles and then just kept going. Venables also indicated that she felt strong throughout the race and only started to feel fatigued towards the very end.

When asked the inevitable question regarding her Shore Coaches debut on Oct.2nd, Megan said that she would go out hard with Janet Smith’s (Edison) CR of 17:35.5 set in 1983 in mind. If the record does not come to her at Shore, she would aim for it later in the season at the Groups Championships or the Meet of Champions.



In other action on Saturday, The SJ Shootout saw Miles Schoedler of Ocean City break his second CR in as many weeks. The senior from the shore ran 15:40 to win the "Stud" race at this unique event, breaking the record of 15:43 set by Joe Kotran of Toms River North at last years edition of the meet. Also, for the second week  in a row, the Ocean City Boys took the team title.

On the girls side, Ocean City's Mary Kate Brelsford took the "Studette" race in 19:25 beating Felicia O'Donnell of Delsea by 7 seconds.  O'Donnell led Delsea to the team title with a 17-21 win over Toms River No.


Going back to Friday afternoon. Bergen County got things going with the Season Opener Invitational at Darlington Park in Mahwah. The 2 fastest guys were Nick Ward (Indian Hills '11) at 15:49 and Patrick Rono (Lyndhurst '12)  at 15:50. Each won their respective divisions by wide margins.

The top girl in the field was DePaul's Alyssa LaGuardia who scored  an 18:21 victory in the "B" race.  Kristen Traub of Eastern Christian shook off her DQ at Randolph the previous week and scored the win in the "C" race with a time of 18:37, and Jen Molke of #3 ranked  Holy Angels took the "A" race in 19:20, leading a 1-2 finshi to give oly Angels the team win with 30 points.


Class meets were the order of the day in Central Jersey with the Magee Invitational at Warinanco, the Thompson Park Class Meet at you guessed it and the Battle of Ocean Co. Park at where else...OCP.


The news at Warinanco came out of the Senior race for boys and the Junior race for the girls.  Matt McDonald (No. Hunterdon '('11) picked up where he left off last week and took the win in 16:15.5, while Bernards' Dana Giordano  ran 19:12 for a comfortable margin of victory.


The Old Bridge boys had a  successful day at the site of the CJ Sectional, as they  scored  individual wins in the Soph and Jr. races at the Thompson Pk. Class Meet,. with Joe Capolino  taking the Jr. race in 17:30.4 and Ryan Colon (17:31.21)  leading a 1-2-3 finish for OB in the Soph race. The top time of the day came from North Brunswick's  Cullen Davis who ran a smokin' 15:54.41 for the win over Khari Bowen of Monroe. In Girls racing, Brianna Feerst won the Junior Girls event in 19:19.o9 for the days fastest time. The Senior run was taken by  Brianna Feerst of Jackson Memorial in 19:20.29. (see Mike Frye's NJR report for more info (Thompson Park Report). 


The Battle oat Ocean County park was a lightly attended affair that saw Jackson Memorials Greg Caldwell  take the Boys Jr./Sr. race in 16:03