NJSIAA Sectionals Roundup

Local Girls Cross-Country Runners Deliver Big State Sectional Efforts

Nov 07, 2018

Southern Ocean County’s girls cross-country runners had an awesome day on Nov. 3. In addition to a pair of individuals from Barnegat High School, both the Southern and Pinelands teams qualified for Saturday’s NJSIAA group championships at Holmdel Park.

In South Jersey Group IV, Southern continued its solid season with an excellent five-runner effort from senior Gianna Citarella, juniors Emily Furlong, Jaelyn D’Amelio and Alexa Mulch, and freshman Rachel Short. The Rams combined for 134 points to finish fourth in an extremely tough section, in which Kingsway took the top spot with 56 points, followed by Shawnee (96) and Cherokee (119).

Southern’s best effort came from its frontrunner all season, Citarella, who took the 13th overall position in 19:56.10. She was followed by Furlong in 16th with a time of 20:03.04 and Short in 28th at 20:24.78. D’Amelio crossed the line in 36th at 20:49.65, and Mulch ran through the chute in 41st at 21:02.92.

In South Jersey Group II, Pinelands’ top five delivered huge efforts and combined for 106 points, good enough to take the second spot behind perennial powerhouse Haddonfield, which blew away the field with 33 points. Delsea finished third with 107 points, and Sterling was fourth with 108.

Sophomore Jolie Zaccaria was the lead runner for the Wildcats, crossing the finish line in 15th place with a time of 22:20.73, followed by freshmen Nadya Sturies (23:04.28) and Jessica Cheney (23:13.21) in 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Senior Jewel Szwed finished in 25th at 23:17.24, and Morgan Ross wrapped up Pinelands’ great effort by placing 37th in 24:05.80.

The Rams and Wildcats now have a shot at reaching the Meet of Champions for the first time in three years. The top two teams in each group automatically qualify for the big meet on Nov. 17. And while it’s going to be a chore to finish among the top two in each group, the Rams and Wildcats can qualify by way of wild card.

After recalculating team scores based on the remaining teams that don’t automatically qualify, the NJSIAA awards the next-best eight teams entry to the Meet of Champions, also at Holmdel Park.

Individually, Barnegat freshmen Lillian Sarno and Bianca Savoy were among the top 10 in South Group II and will represent the Bengals in the Group II race on Saturday.

Sarno finished fourth overall with a time of 20:22.98, just over a minute behind winner Carly Nicholson, a sophomore from Delsea, but within six seconds of Haddonfield’s sophomore twins, Lindsay and Allison Colflesh, who finished in 20:17.08 and 20:21.16, respectively. Savoy was ninth overall in 21:00.42.

For individuals in the group meets, they have to be among the top 10 to advance to the Meet of Champions. While definitely capable of reaching the season finale, Sarno will have her work cut out for her, considering the top 19 from Central Group II – no doubt the group’s premier section this season – and a half-dozen other from North I and II all clocked higher times in their sectional meets.

In the South Jersey Group II boys meet, Pinelands’ Mart Villanueva was the highest-finishing local, crossing the line in 26th place at 17:49.45, while Barnegat’s Peter Dizon ended up 28th in 17:53.40, Barnegat’s Gareth Aguilar took 33rd in 18:07.53, and Pinelands’ Justin Schlatmann placed 38th at 18:12.81.

Southern Regional Gymnast
Qualifies for State Finals

As a team, the Southern gymnastics team wrapped up a fantastic season by finishing second in the NJSIAA South Jersey Championships on Nov. 3, and with it one of the team’s gymnasts earned a spot in the state finals at Montgomery High School on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Freshman Ava Kelly finished with an all-around score of 34.85, good enough for eighth overall, but she qualified for the finale by tying for third place on the floor exercise with a 9.325. She also scored a seventh-place 8.675 on the balance beam to help lead the Rams.

Sophomore Maria Mezzo, who reached the state finals last season as a freshman, just missed qualifying on the vault, scoring an 8.95 for eighth place, while sophomores Hailey Klimas and Ali English just missed qualifying on the floor, scoring a 9.3 and 9.25 for sixth and seventh, respectively.

Senior Gabby Conforti finished ninth on the beam with a score of 8.575. Klimas was 10th on the beam with an 8.5, and Mezzo was 11th with an 8.425. Mezzo placed 11th all-around with a 34.5 as well.

To qualify for the state finals, gymnasts had to finish among the top five in an event and all-around.

David Biggy


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