Our voting panel was asked to make their selections based on three criteria: record in head-to-head competition, honors won and marks and sequence of marks. Head-to-head means exactly that: competition in the same race, not merely running in the same meet in different races. For honors won, sectional, group, MOC, regional and national titles hold the most weight but invitationals such as Manhattan and Shore Coaches are heavily weighted also. Marks on frequently run, well-established courses have the most meaning with Holmdel clearly being the most important. With all that said, we expected that the voters' judgment would come into play and would count heavily.
The voting for first team was very close reflecting the high quality of the records and merits of the athletes after the dominant Megans. In fact, the voting was so close that we were unable to distinguish a clear break between a number of athletes and have therefore named 8 athletes to the first team - a "tie" if you like. As a result, only 6 athletes have been named to the 2nd team.
This year's All-State selections are dominated by upper classmen (4 juniors and 3 seniors) followed by a second team with 3 freshmen, 2 juniors and 2 seniors. 5 of the 14 selections for 1st and 2nd teams are from non-public schools; 8 are from north Jersey, 3 from central and 3 from the southern part of the state. Group 4 had the most athletes on the 1st and 2nd teams with 4, non-Public A and group 2 had 3 each and group 3 and Non-Public B had 2 each.
Holly Bischof (Junior - Bishop Eustace) - 2010 was a major step up for Bischof. Coming into the year she had a Holmdel PR of 19:01. She improved that to 18:46 in finishing 2nd in the E race at Shore Coaches and then to 18:22 in the Non-Public A race (another 2nd place) and eventually 18:09 for 2nd place in the Meet of Champions. The later mark puts her at 13th all-time at the state meet venue. In between those races, Bischof was 2nd in the junior race at the Cherokee Challenge, won the National division race at the Olympic Conference Divisional meet, the Varsity 1 race at the South Jersey Open, was 2nd at the Olympic Conference Championships and won the Robert Kiessling Memorial meet. She was also 16th at Footlocker Northeast.
Dana Giordano (Junior - Bernards) - Dana's year started off with a bang as she had the fastest time of the day in winning the D race at the Wild Safari Invitational at Great Adventure. In her next test at Shore Coaches, Giordano won the E race over a tough field that included Bischof, Amanda Corbosiero and Kristen Landry. October produced two big wins - at the Somerset County meet and at the very tough Skylands Conference meet where she faced the best from Hillsborough, Voorhees, Ridge, North Hunterdon, Hunterdon Central and Pingry. Two more meets - Sectionals and Groups - resulted in two more wins. At the Meet of Champs Giordano had an off-race, finishing 17th but she bounced back nicely with a strong 7th at the NXN Regionals, barely missing the trip to the nationals in Portland. At the end of the season, Giordano ranks behind only Meg Waldron and Karen Ahearn on the all-time Bernards list at Holmdel.
Samantha Jones (Junior - Randolph) - When teammate Joelle Amaral went down with a season ending injury, Sam stepped up in a big way. Big shoes to fill for an athlete running her first XC season. 2nd to Amaral at Shore Coaches in the A race, she then went on to win the Greystone Invitational by more than a minute, was 4th at 4000 meters in the A race at the Manhattan Invitational, was 2nd at the Morris County Championships, won her sectional race and was 2nd in Group 4 at the state meet in a superb 18:28. In that meet she led her team to qualify for the Meet of Champions, something many said Randolph could not manage without Amaral. At the Meet of Champions she came within 2 seconds of matching her PR from the week before with her 7th place finish. Her 5th place at the NXN Northeast Regional at Bowdoin Park earned her a trip to Portland where she ran very well in trying conditions and finished 31st. Only a junior, Samantha will be back next year to lead a young Randolph team that always seems to be in the mix.
Caroline Kellner (Junior - West Windsor-Plainsboro South) - Kellner's 3 wins in 2010 were all by wide margins - 1:14, 0:49 and 0:21 at Shore Invitational B, the Mercer County Championships and Sectionals respectively. Her season started with a 4th at 3200 in the Cherokee Challenge junior race the toughest race of the day. She was 2nd at Manhattan and 4th at the Group 4 state meet where her time was 5 seconds slower than she ran at Shore Coaches (18:45 versus 18:40). She roared back at the Meet of Champions for a huge 18:09 PR and a fine 3rd place finish, missing on second by a hair in a sprint too the finish with Bischof who was also timed in 18:09. Caroline qualified for the Footlocker Nationals with her fine 18:28 for 7th place at Sunken Meadows and finished 37th at the race in San Diego.
Megan Lacy (Junior - Cherokee) - No girl in New Jersey save Megan Venables had a better season than did Lacy. She opened with an 18 second win at 3200 meters at the Cherokee Challenge and followed that up with a win over Haley Pierce (Tatnall, Delaware) at the Maymount XC Festival in Richmond, VA. In her next effort in the Championship race at Shore Coaches, she dropped her Holmdel PR 36 seconds with her second place finish behind Venables. That mark was good for 13th on the all-time list at that juncture. The rest of Megan's schedule was tour de force: a 59-second win at Olympic Conference Division American race, a 1:24 gap over second place at the Burlington County Open, a 44 second win at the Olympic Conference Championships and a 1:04 gap top second at the group South Jersey Sectionals. In the state group 4 race her 17:55 would have been the talk of the day were it not for Venables' course record. That performance stands as the 9th fastest of all time at Holmdel. Her Meet of Champions race was a fine 18:13 but was a disappointment to Megan as she hoped to be closer to Venables and higher than her 4th place finish. She rebounded nicely with an 18:09 3rd place finish at Footlocker Northeast to win the trip to the Nationals. Her time is believed to be in the top 5 all-time at the venue. At Footlocker Nationals, Megan was 24th in 18:18.
Molly McNamara (Senior - Red Bank Catholic) - The Stanford-bound senior was consistent throughout the season and came up big at the end when it mattered most. . She led off with an 18:24 in winning the C race at the Wild Safari Invitational. Her 18:43 was good for 3rd in the Championship race at Shore Coaches and she improved on that with an 18:31 win in the Monmouth County meet at Holmdel helping her team to a 67-point victory. She continued her winning ways with a 1:01 win at Ocean County Park as RBC took the team title by 74 points. In the State Group meet and Meet of Champions she ran identical 18:21 PRs, edging Bischof for the win in the former and taking 6th in the later. RBC won the group meet and was 3rd in the Meet of Champions. McNamara went on to win the NXN Northeast Regionals to earn a trip to Portland where she was a fine 25th in the National Championship race.
Julianna Miller (Senior - Hillsborough) - Juliana was the lead on the team that won the MOC for the second year in a row. In the one invitational they ran, she was 4th in the championship race at Shore Coaches in 19:06. By the end of the season she had improved that mark to 18:30 at the group meet and finally 18:18 at the Meet of Champions, leading Hillsborough to a 16 point win over Voorhees. In between those meets she was 2nd at the Somerset County meet and third in the tough Skylands Conference championships. Miller ran well at the NXN Regional, taking third place to win the trip to Portland where she finished 76th in the championship race.
Megan Venables (Senior - Highland Regional) - What is there to say? Simply one of the greatest seasons ever by a New Jersey XC runner. Megan was undefeated until the Footlocker Northeast qualifier where she decided to ease off and save herself rather than chasing the win. All she needed was to finish in the top ten (she came in 4th to easily qualify for the Footlocker Nationals). She broke two significant course records: Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia and of course Holmdel. The Belmont record had stood since 2001; Venables broke the record by 49 seconds. After winning the Shore Coaches Invitational (her first time at that meet) at Holmdel in 17:50 which was 7th all-time at that point, Megan knew she had a legitimate shot at the course record. She broke the 17:35.5 record set in 1983 by all-timer and national champion Janet Smith of J.P. Stevens with her 17:28 effort at the state group 3 meet on November 13.
Venables' complete season included wins at Briarwood (the 17:40 Belmont course record), the championship race at Shore Coaches, the Suffolk County Officials Invitational (a superb 18:26 on the Footlocker Northeast course at Sunken Meadow), the Camden County and Tri-County Conference Championships, south Jersey sectionals, Group 3 state meet and Meet of Champions. After easing through the qualifying race at Sunken Meadow, Megan was 5th at Footlocker Nationals.
Mackenzie Barry (Freshman - Mendham)
Nisa Cicitta (Freshman - Voorhees)
Amanda Corbosiero (Freshman - Mt St Dominics)
Tara Hanley (Junior - Chatham)
Alyssa LaGuardia (Senior - DePaul)
Kristen Traub (Junior - Eastern Christian)
Lennon Cooper (Freshman - Holmdel)
Sarah DiSanza (Sophomore - High Point Regional)
Mary Dombrowski (Junior - Hillsborough)
Jenna Dubrow (Senior - Jackson Memorial)
Emily Dunne (Senior - Academy of the Holy Angels)
Hannah Eckstein (Senior - Red Bank Catholic)
Brianna Feerst (Junior - Point Pleasant Beach)
Kristen Landry (Senior - Mountain Lakes)
Jen Molke (Senior - Academy of the Holy Angels)
Allison Payenski (Senior - Hunterdon Central)
Caroline Ticse (Senior - Allentown)
Erin Thompson (Senior - Immaculate Heart Academy)
Girls Coach of the Year: Rich Refi (Hillsborough) - Imagine that you've won the Meet of Champions and are now told that due to the budget situation resulting from cuts in state support, the ony way you can compete in invitationals is if you raise the money yourself. That's what happened to Hillsborough. So, unable to compete at invitationals (the great Hillsborough parent-support team paid for Shore Coaches from their own pockets), Rich Refi made the most of the meets his team could run. They didn't open until October 2 at Shore Coaches where they bested Voorhees by 2 points in the Championship race. They didn't race again until October 20 when they won the Somerset County race but then had a tough time at the Skylands conference meet 8 days later, losing to Voorhees by 24. At the Sectionals they placed 4 in the top 10 and 5 in the top 15 for a 39 point win and then rolled to the Group 4 title and won MOC by 16 over Voorhees.
In addition to the restriction on invitationals which may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise, Hillsborough lost 3 team members from the group that won the 2009 MOC by a point including their #1 Ashley Smolinka. However, Julianna Miller's development along with that of the younger members of last year's team - Kelly Jankowicz, Alexandra Cady and Stephanie Nunes along with sophs Mary Dombrowski and Mallory Drake and senior Sarah Skrabal put Hillsborough over the top.
Girl's Athlete of the Year: Megan Venables (Senior - Highland Regional)
Top Freshman Girl: Amanda Corbosiero (Mt St Dominic Academy) - What a year for this freshman who ran like a veteran. She had wins in the Randolph Invitational season opening C race, the Varsity 1 race at the Passaic County Coaches Invitational, the American Division race at the Super Essex Conference and the A race at the XC Fall classic at Thompson Park. She also led her Mt St Dominic team to a win in the Essex County meet with a 17:54 course record. In her first experience at Holmdel, she was 3rd in the E race with her 19:31. She improved that PR to 18:55 with her Non-Public B win over Traub and capped it off with a 9th place 18:33 at the Meet of Champions.
Editors Note: Thanks to the members of the NJRunners rankings panel for their time and efforts all season long, to Kevin Byrne Sr. for his invaluable input to the selection process, to the photographers of NJRunners who contributed the images here and all season long. And a Big Thanks to Joe Lanzalotto who stepped into the breach and produced a terrific piece.