Tuckerton Leader

Pinelands Cross-Country Squads Are Young, Promising

Sep 07, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Pinelands junior Jolie Zaccaria

It’s not much of a secret. The Pinelands Regional girls cross-country team often has a light roster, typically with a dozen or less runners making regular treks through the various 3.1-mile courses in Ocean County and elsewhere.

As this season gets set to begin next week, coach Holly Egan’s crew is only 10 deep, yet the future is bright.

“We are a young team, with no seniors,” said Egan, whose squad went 3-4 in meets a year ago. “However, we are excited about the upcoming freshmen class and the immediate impact they will make this season. The strength and perseverance shown during the humid summer months have shown me what these girls are capable of, and I hope we can turn around our losing season from last year and become a team to be reckoned with.”

The leader of the Wildcats’ pack last fall was Jolie Zaccaria, and she likely will lead the way again for Pinelands. Now a junior, Zaccaria last season finished 47th overall in the Ocean County Championships and ended up 17th in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II meet. Joining her to lead the Wildcats are classmates Gabrielle Rollison, who took 57th in SJ II, and Yhasmine Johns.

The larger youth movement begins with sophomores Samaria El Badri and Morgan Ross. El Badri placed fourth in the freshman race of the Ocean County Championships, while Ross wasn’t far behind in seventh. In the state sectional meet, El Badri finished 27th overall and Ross crossed the line in 48th.

Additionally, freshmen Jessica Cheney and Nadya Sturies are joining the fray, and Egan is expecting solid contributions from both youngsters. Also, a pair of winter and spring track athletes – Karissa Walling and Jewel Szwed – recently joined the squad and should help add some depth in dual meets.

As for the boys squad, turning around their 2-5 effort of a year ago won’t be an easy one in the always tough Shore Conference Class B South division, but coach Don Angelini is optimistic.

“Our team hopes to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish in B South,” he said. “We’re a young team, but we continue to grow in talent and numbers.”

With another youth movement fueling the charge, Angelini’s group is led by a pair of seniors, Justin Schlatmann and Patrick Princiotti, who finished 50th and 93rd overall in Ocean County last season. Schlatmann, whose top time last fall was 17:43, also led the Wildcats during the South Jersey Group II meet with a 42nd-place finish.

Behind the seniors should be a trio of juniors in Nolan Rollison (86th in the county last season), Justin Bowen and Ben Rivera; and a pair of sophomores: Matt Villanueva, who finished 54th in SJ II, and Jacob Santillanes, who placed 62nd in SJ II.

Adding to the depth for the boys will be junior Jack Roth, sophomore Adam McCloskey, and a trio of freshmen: Colin Cadena, Brian Delbury and Matthew Kline.

Both Pinelands’ squads open their season on the road in a tri-meet on Sept. 11, at which the Wildcats will square off with B South powers Donovan Catholic and Point Pleasant Borough. The following week, on Sept. 18, they will go to Ocean County Park for a tri-meet with Manchester and Jackson Liberty. On Sept. 25, Pinelands will host Lakewood and Barnegat at the Little Egg Harbor Recreation Complex.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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