Bishop Eustace Crusaders
Players to watch: The Crusaders graduated five of their top seven runners, all of whom were all-conference selections, but they do return one of the area’s best runners in Shawn Hutchison. The senior clocked a 16:17 to place 35th at the Meet of Champions last fall after placing 12th in the state in Non-Public A. He also took fourth at the South Jersey Open in Division I and fourth at the Olympic Conference Championships. Another notable returner is fellow senior Praveen Vulimiri, who placed 10th at the South Jersey Open, 34th in the conference and 63rd at states. Senior Jonathan Carrie and sophomore Michael Dziuba are other runners who should make an impact.
OUTLOOK: With Hutchison leading the pack, a team that won the South Jersey Non-Public title, finished seventh at states in Non-Public A and won its division at the South Jersey Open should continue to be a threat at the big meets.
Camden Catholic Fighting Irish
Players to watch: The Fighting Irish said goodbye to one of South Jersey’s top runners in Kyle Kirk, leaving the front of the pack to returning all-conference senior Tim Slack. Slack placed ninth at the South Jersey Open, 18th in the Olympic Conference meet and 32nd in Non-Public A at states. He also enjoyed a strong track season in the spring. Another key returner is senior John Slack, who took 61st at the South Jersey Open, 62nd in the conference and 81st at states. Sophomore Greg Del Colombo is expected to build on a promising freshman campaign, while Colin McConnell is another sophomore to watch.
OUTLOOK: Kirk is a huge loss, but Camden Catholic has a strong nucleus returning from a team that took 10th at the Olympic Conference Championships, fourth at sectionals and 11th at states.
Players to watch: Despite graduating No. 1 runner Kaleb Burch, the Chiefs have plenty to be excited about this fall thanks to a talented crop of runners. Sophomores Nick Falk and Jack Shea both made an impact as freshmen and could be the next in a long line of terrific Cherokee runners. Falk placed 34th at sectionals and 61st at states—the highest of any returning runner for the Chiefs—and was also in the top 25 at the Olympic Conference Championships, Burlington County Open and South Jersey Open. Shea was even better at the conference and county meets and South Jersey Open, placing in the top 20 of each, while taking 49th at sectionals. Senior Justin DeTone is another strong competitor who placed 17th in the county and conference and 36th at sectionals. Other solid returners include juniors Mike Zurzolo and Steven Gravlin and seniors Joe Lacy and Noah Gil. Incoming freshman Justin Kelly, coming off a stellar eighth-grade season, will also contend for a spot in the varsity top seven.
OUTLOOK: After placing in the top three as a team at the conference, county and sectional meets, Cherokee has a nice group of runners back and will be one of the teams to watch in South Jersey. But they will have their work cut out for them as conference rival Cherry Hill East returns six of its top seven from last year’s South Jersey Group IV championship team.
Cherry Hill East Cougars
Players to watch: Almost everyone returns from a phenomenal 2013 team, led by junior Aaron Groff, who established himself as one of the state’s elite runners. Among Groff’s many accomplishments last fall was a 28th-place finish at the Meet of Champions, with just five runners who were ahead of him coming back this year. He also took sixth at states, third at sectionals and second at both the Olympic Conference and Camden County meets. In the spring, Groff was the South Jersey Group IV champion and took second in the state in the 3200 meters. But this is far from a one-man team, as senior Dan Helfand is another outstanding runner who took 30th at states and was in the top 10 at the sectional, county and conference meets. Seniors Christian Mele (14th) and Jeff Braun (21st) both had strong sectional performances and were consistent all season, while juniors Cole Parsons and Isaiah Jean-Baptiste and sophomores Marc Meltzer and Josh Dillon are all proven at the varsity level.
OUTLOOK The graduation of all-South Jersey runner Ben Dillon is a big one, but the Cougars will remain one of the top teams in South Jersey. Last year they won titles in South Jersey Group IV, the conference and the county, and placed third at states and ninth at the Meet of Champions.
Cherry Hill West Lions
Players to watch: The Lions are paced by their strong junior class, which gained valuable varsity experience a year ago. Leading that group is Scott Sherry, who finished 25th at sectionals and was in the top 20 at the Olympic Conference and Camden County meets. Liam Coverdale (32nd), Owen Barrett (47th) and Jonathan Hoch (49th) were all in the top 50 at the county meet as sophomores, with Barrett having the best sectional finish of the three with a 68th-place effort. Another returning runner is senior Paul Earnest.
OUTLOOK: As a team the Lions took second in the county, seventh in the conference and eighth in South Jersey Group IV. If the returning juniors continue to improve, they should have success at those meets again.
Players to watch: The Pioneers graduated a terrific runner in Bill Dolan, but a deep roster remains. Junior Nathan Shivers is expected to have a strong presence at the conference, county and sectional meets after impressive seasons in winter and spring track. Senior Daniel Henry had solid performances in the Tri-County Conference meet (22nd) and Gloucester County meet (26th) last year and also placed 56th at sectionals. Senior Hunter McNamara and junior Ronald Moore also placed in the top 50 at both the conference and county meets, while seniors Matt Knighton and Casimir Kmiec are other strong returners. Junior Aiden Mokris and senior Jacob Meisle are also back.
OUTLOOK: Clearview finished fifth in the county and sixth in the conference, while placing 14th at sectionals. Expect another consistent season despite the loss of Dolan.
Players to watch: The Vikings return their top eight runners, including a pair of talented juniors who emerged as the leaders of the team in 2013. Nicolas Pschunder placed in the top 20 in South Jersey Group IV, the Camden County Championships and the South Jersey Open, while Vipal Bhat was in the top 20 in the county, the South Jersey Open and the Olympic Conference meet, and just missed out at sectionals with a 23rd-place effort. In the spring, Pschunder was fourth in the 1600 at the South Jersey Group IV meet with a time of 4:19, and Bhat was all-conference in the 3200. Senior captain Anthony “Jake” Caruso and senior Anthony Sokolowski were both in the top 50 in the county and the conference. Other key returners are senior Bailey Backal and juniors Joshua Chazin and Don Shamilov.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings were consistent at all of the big events last fall, finishing in the top 10 at the sectional, county and conference meets as well as the South Jersey Open. With all of their top runners back, they should be even more of a force this fall.
Gloucester Catholic Rams
Players to watch: Junior Sean Simila will again be one of the top runners for the Rams after a solid sophomore season in which he placed 45th at the Tri-County Conference meet and 50th at states in Non-Public B. Sophomore Sean Ward showed promise as a rookie—he placed second at the Great Adventure Safari freshman race and third at the South Jersey freshman meet—and is another key returner. Also back are senior Brendan Kain, juniors Louis Rodriguez, Bailey Wethman and Matt Dyson, and sophomores Frankie Tassi, Eddie Wiechecki, Ryan Cassidy, Nicholas Giordano and Bryan Delzangle. Incoming freshmen include Patch Glennan, C.J. Pegues, Brandon Moore, Devon Gadek and Mike Zelenski.
OUTLOOK: The Rams improved by six spots at the Non-Public B state meet, taking 10th. They also placed eighth at sectionals and 10th at the conference meet and should continue to make progress with much of the team returning.
Players to watch: Junior Greg Pelose is coming off a breakout sophomore season and should have no problem building on it. Last year he claimed an eighth-place finish at sectionals and an 11th-place finish at states in Group II. He was also 47th at the Meet of Champions and fourth in the Colonial Conference. Austin Stoner is another terrific junior who was sixth at sectionals and 38th in the state. Seniors Danny Brennan and Chris Goings joined Pelose and Stoner in the top 15 at sectionals and the conference meet. The Bulldawgs also had the top seven finishers in the JV conference meet, led by junior Colin Gallagher in first. Additional runners who will challenge for top spots are seniors Jack Wood, Chad Evans, Danny Stevens and Blake Barr and sophomore Brandon Quanci.
Outlook: Haddonfield has won 162 consecutive meets dating back to 1997, and also extended its streak of sectional championships to 10 with last year’s Group II title. That was the Bulldawgs’ 33rd sectional championship overall, a state record. They went on to win their 15th state title and first since 2010 and they finished first in South Jersey. Although there are certainly spots to fill, expect them to stay among the elite.
Players to watch: After an impressive sophomore season, Noah Culbreath (pictured) was even better as a junior, as he was crowned the South Jersey Group IV champion. He also placed ninth at states, 27th at the Meet of Champions, fourth in the Tri-County Conference and captured the Gloucester County title. More of the same can be expected in 2014 from the senior. Right behind Culbreath is a guy who would be the No. 1 runner on most teams in senior Kyle Evernham. He placed in the top 10 at the sectional, county and conference meets and just missed out on that honor with a 13th-place showing at states. Senior Myles Boerlin had top 20 performances at sectionals, Tri-County Conference and Gloucester County, while junior Mark Mihlebach and senior Trevor Culbreath were also consistent performers who had big track seasons this past spring. Juniors Brendan Stevens and John Palladino are other runners to keep an eye on this fall.
Outlook: The Dragons won the county title, took second in the conference and South Jersey Group IV and placed eighth in the state. A dynamite returning nucleus led by Noah Culbreath will keep them in the mix for titles at all of those meets in 2014.
Players to watch: Senior Matt Zubrzycki came on strong at the end of last year, placing 22nd in South Jersey Group IV. He also was 15th at the Burlington County Open and 24th at the Olympic Conference meet. Another senior, Yianni Christou, had an outstanding county performance, finishing eighth, while also taking 28th in the conference and 32nd at sectionals. Junior Danny Fraley was in the top 20 in the county, while other returners include senior Seamus Steele and juniors Craig Lauer and Mike Figura.
Outlook: Lenape graduated its top runner in Dan O’Leary from a team that took second in the county, fifth in the conference and seventh at sectionals. But Zubrzycki and Christou should move to the front of the pack and keep the Indians competitive.
Players to watch: The Quakers graduated their top two runners in Joe Inglis and Kevin Horton, but junior Christian Cramer appears ready to take over the top spot. He was consistent in all of the big meets in 2013, taking 16th in Burlington County, 22nd in South Jersey Group III and 75th at states. Junior Harrison Morris missed the end of last cross country season with an injury but had a very strong spring track season, setting a school sophomore record in the mile. He is poised to join Cramer at the top of the team. Junior Ty Schneider, a top-five runner by the end of his freshman season, is also back after missing his entire sophomore year with a broken foot. Senior Mike Barsoum finished in the top 50 at the sectional and conference meets, while Kevin Fox’s solid freshman campaign included a 41st-place showing in the county. Seniors Sam Spirgel and Andrew Voyack join Barsoum as team captains.
Outlook: Moorestown finished in the top five at the sectional, county and Burlington County League meets, to go with a 19th-place showing at states. The Quakers should remain contenders if their returners can take the next step to becoming top runners.
Moorestown Friends Foxes
Players to watch: The Foxes have a solid senior class returning, led by Andrew Edzenga, David Berg, Ray Mayer, Luke Shaffer and Alex Master. Zach Day and Harvey Robin are returning juniors, while Will Kimberly and Roman Daniel are incoming freshmen expected to contribute this fall.
Outlook: Moorestown Friends has a strong core of returning runners who have trained hard all summer. The Foxes are looking forward to competing in the large invitational races like the Cherokee Challenge.
Paul VI Eagles
Players to watch: The Eagles suffered three season-ending injuries to their top seven runners in 2013, so the returning runners are largely untested. Stephen Conte had an impressive rookie season and should be one of the Eagles’ top runners this fall. Last year he consistently ran in the 17-minute range and placed 25th at the Camden County meet. Seniors William Schmidt, David Hassinger and Ben Rottler-Gurley were also in the top 50 in the county. Sophomore Chris Giacobbe is another runner to keep an eye on.
Outlook: After winning the South Jersey Non-Public A title in 2012, the Eagles finished second at sectionals last year. This year’s team has a lot of new faces but is also full of potential, and could be in the mix for a division title if the newcomers develop quickly.
Seneca Golden Eagles
Players to watch: Senior Joey Hackney is the leading returner for Seneca after placing 45th at both the Burlington County and South Jersey Group III meets. Senior Danny Nesco and junior Kevin Curtin are also key runners back in the fold. Senior Wes Baronowski and junior George Castro could also have an impact, and Seneca is counting on juniors Art Suchodola, Trey Mikulski and Ryan Groves to provide depth.
Outlook: The Golden Eagles were around the middle of the pack at most of the big meets last year and hope to move up a few spots despite losing several strong seniors from 2013.
Players to watch: No. 1 runner Trevor Sye has graduated, but the Renegades bring back several talented runners who could be ready for the role. Senior Bryan Dickinson was in the top 30 at the Olympic Conference and Burlington County meets and also placed 38th in South Jersey Group IV. Junior John Kearns was Shawnee’s top returning runner at sectionals, as he finished 37th, while junior Jason Richwall took 23rd in the county. Other returners are senior Brendan Higgins and junior Joey Lipinsky, who took second in the conference JV meet.
Outlook: The Renegades enjoyed an impressive 2013 season, placing in the top five at the county and conference meets and taking sixth at sectionals. An excellent top three returning runners should keep them among the leaders at the championship meets.
Washington Township Minutemen
Players to watch: Dennis Williamson, a senior, is the most accomplished returner for the Minutemen and should be their No. 1 runner. He placed 20th in Gloucester County, 30th in the Olympic Conference and 65th in South Jersey Group IV a year ago. Senior Nick Tiwari, who was injured last fall, was the Minutemen’s top distance runner during track season and will challenge Williamson for the top spot. Juniors Mike Roscioli and Alex Tursi and senior Lenny Iacovera all placed in the top 40 at the county meet in 2013. Senior Andrew Torney is also a veteran returner.
Outlook: Washington Township, the South Jersey Group IV champion in 2012, was in rebuilding mode last year but still finished fourth in the county and 12th at sectionals. The Minutemen will look to improve behind a deep, talented list of returners.
For this year’s Boys and Girls Cross Country schedules, click here
Photo: Kingsway’s Noah Culbreath
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Fall Sports Preview, July, 2014.
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