Tuckerton Leader

Young Runners May Give Clout to Pinelands Cross-Country Teams

Sep 01, 2017

For the past several years, Emily Roth was the premier distance runner in the Pinelands Regional girls cross-country program. But Roth graduated in June, and the squad now has to rely on a group of young Wildcats to make some noise this fall.

“All the girls have been working hard since July 5, when our summer practices began,” said coach Holly Egan. “We’ve been course training, weight lifting and beach running. I’m hoping this leads to a winning season.”

Given such grueling training leading up to the season, the Wildcats very well may be contenders within the Shore Conference Class B South division this season. But Egan won’t find out for sure until Sept. 12, when her crew opens up against Point Pleasant Borough and Donovan Catholic at the Wildcats’ home course at Freedom Fields.

Last year, Pinelands went 3-4 during the regular season. Leading the charge this season will be one senior, Susan Grelak, and several underclassmen, including sophomores Jolie Zaccaria and Emily English.

“I’m expecting great things out of Jolie and smart leadership from Susan, my only senior and a seasoned athlete,” Egan said.

Based on results from last season, Zaccaria may be the most promising of the Wildcats. She won the freshman meet at the Ocean County Championships. English wasn’t far behind, in eighth place.

Zaccaria also placed 17th in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II meet, two spots behind Roth, while English finished 43rd amid a very tough field.

Joining them this season will be classmates Yhasmine Johns and Gabrielle Rollison, along with freshmen Samaria Elbadri and Morgan Ross.

Meanwhile, coach Don Angelini’s boys will be in a similar boat, with only two seniors, Ryan Lutz and Liam McGettigan, leading a young group.

“We’re hoping to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish in the division,” Angelini said. “We have a young team and the guys continue to work hard. We’re expecting to be a competitive team this season.”

Behind McGettigan and Lutz, who placed 92nd in Ocean County a year ago, several juniors should provide some clout near the top of the lineup, including Patrick Princiotti, who finished 81st in the county and followed up with a 62nd-place finish in the South Jersey Group II meet; and Justin Schlatmann, who was 50th in South Jersey Group II.

The other returning juniors are Tristan Pharo and Alex Haldenwang.

Further down the roster, the Wildcats have a slew of sophomores who might be big contributors, including Michael Kay, Nolan Rollison and Justin Bowen – who placed 25th, 26th and 28th during last year’s county freshman meet – along with Ryan McGowan, Ben Rivera and Aidan Rollison. This year’s freshman group consists of Adam McCloskey, Jacob Santallanes and Mart Villanueva.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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