PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Holly Bischof was the consensus state Cross Country Runner of the Year after winning the NJSIAA Meet of Champions title in the fall. Last spring, she was second in the Meet of Champions in the 3,200 and won the state title in that event. She was also second in the sectionals in the 1,600. Senior Alexa McGrath was fourth in the S.J. Non-Public A 400-meter hurdles. Senior Julianna Ardire was fourth in the S.J. Non-Public A 100 meters and fifth in the 200. Senior Courtney Kelly was fifth in the 3,200 and seventh at the sectionals in the 1,600 meter. She is among the top distance runners in South Jersey. Junior Kelly Quinn was fifth in the long jump and seventh in the high jump at the sectionals. Senior Nicole Aguiar was sixth in the 100 hurdles at the sectionals.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: The Crusaders appear to be the team to beat in the Olympic National. Eustace should be competitive in Non-Public A, but defending champion Monsignor and Red Bank Catholic make this a very difficult season.
OUTLOOK: The Crusaders will be an outstanding distance team, and how they fare in sprints and field events will determine their success. The potential is there to be a Top 10 team in South Jersey.
Camden Catholic Fighting Irish
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Coach Sonny Anderson lists just two athletes with sufficient experience – junior Lexxus Matos (sprints) and sophomore Dajau Fussell (sprints). Matos was eighth in the 100-meter dash at the S.J. Non-Public A championships.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Bishop Eustace is the team to beat in the Olympic National.
OUTLOOK: This is a program that has gone 0-10 in the last two years and the prospects for improvement will depend on the turnout. Clearly, the Irish are still rebuilding.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Megan Lacy is among the top distance runners in the state and earned her second straight state Group 4 title during the cross country season. Junior Melissa Arnold was also a cross country standout. Junior Jess Woodard won the Meet of Champions in the discus and was fourth in the shot put. She was also the South Jersey Group 4 champion in the shot put (40-11) and sixth in the discus. Junior Rebecca Palkovicz was 15th in the Group 4 championships in the 400 hurdles. Junior Sarah Robbie was fourth in the Group 4 400 meter. Sophomore Elizabeth Montague was sixth in the S.J. Group 4 triple jump and 10th in long jump. Junior Megan Charbeneau (pictured) was fifth in the S.J. Group 4 3,200 meter. Junior Keyarah Jones earned high marks in discus while senior Jess Wright is a valuable pole vaulter.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Lenape will be favored over the Chiefs in both the Olympic American and S.J Group 4.
OUTLOOK: The Chiefs have the ability to contend, even though Lenape is the favorite. This is a definite Top 10 South Jersey team that will put extreme pressure on Lenape in both the division and sectionals.
Cherry Hill East Cougars
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomore Chelsea Campbell was tied for 12th in the S.J. Group 4 high jump, while earning her keep as a key hurdler. Senior Christine Goins placed eighth in the S.J. Group 4 javelin and 23rd in the S.J. Group 4 long jump. Sophomore Maddie Berman placed 29th in the 1,600 meter at the sectionals. Other key returning performers include senior Syde Orange (long jump, triple jump, sprints), senior Danielle Impagliazzo (distance) and juniors Alexa Nichols (800) and Jessica McIntosh (hurdles).
BIGGEST COMPETITION: The Cougars have a lot ahead of them in the Olympic American, with Cherokee, Lenape, Washington Township and Eastern all having solid teams.
OUTLOOK: In many divisions, the Cougars could be competitive, but the Olympic American has too many teams with more talent and experience, so contending isn’t a realistic goal. Last year, 60 percent of the team was freshmen or sophomores, so the Cougars are probably a year away from moving up in the division.
Cherry Hill West Lions
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Ramata Mansaray was 11th in the shot put at the South Jersey Group 3 championships. Senior Carla Still was 11th in the javelin. Other key returning performers are senior Shelby King (sprinter), sophomore Annaliese Reissman (distance) and senior Stephanie Emore (triple jump).
BIGGEST COMPETITION: In the Olympic Conference, Shawnee appears to be the team to beat in the Patriot Division.
OUTLOOK: The Lions don’t have the depth to challenge for a title, but this is a team that should be strong in field events, and how West does in the sprints and distance events will determine if there is improvement.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Jewell Wilson was fourth in the S.J. Group 4 meet in the 100 meter. Senior Katie Hamlet was tied for eighth in the S.J. Group 4 high jump, while senior Amanda Hunter was tied for 12th. Junior Seattle Ellison is among the top sprinters in S.J. Group 4. Sophomore Abena Asare was 15th in the Group 4 400 hurdles and 20th in the 400 meter. Sophomore Emily Davidson was 14th in the 1,600 meter. Other returning veterans are junior distance runner Alex Sobieski and sophomore sprinter/distance runner Jen Strube.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Lenape is the major contender in the American Division and South Jersey Group 4.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings have a solid core of young players and there are a handful of freshmen who could eventually make an impact, but it appears as if Eastern is a year away from being a contender in either the division or Group 4.
Gloucester Catholic Rams
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Stephanie Ochlak placed third in the pole vault at the S.J. Non-Public A championships. Sophomores Julia Hickman and Devon Murphy finished in the Top 25 in the 1,600 meter at the sectionals. Hickman was also 17th in the 3,200. Senior Cat Dougherty was 22nd in the 800 meter at the sectional. Senior Allison Murphy and sophomore Nicole McLeer were in the top 20 in the sectionals for the long jump. Other veterans include senior Liz Heverly (sprints), senior Becca Fillman (sprints/hurdles), junior Liz Priest (springs) and sophomore Rebecca Duffy (sprints).
BIGGEST COMPETITION: In the Tri-County Diamond, Glassboro and Penns Grove will provide formidable opposition.
OUTLOOK: The Rams look to improve from one win, but the competition is steep and the team still relatively young. The immediate goal this season is to show improvement.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Katie Johnston is the defending state champion in the javelin (139-6); she also competes in the hurdles. Junior Emily Carson was second in the state Group 2 meet in the long jump and third in 100 meter. Junior Olivia Blaber was tied for sixth in the state in the 100 hurdles. Sophomore Shelby Cain and junior Meghan Malloy were all-S.J. cross country selections. Cain was fourth in the state Group 2 track meet in the 3,200 meter. Malloy is a transfer from Cinnaminson who was third in the state in the 3,200 last year. Senior Megan Johnston was sixth in the 400 meter at the states. Senior Erica Herrmann was tied for fourth in the Group 2 states in the high jump. Sophomore Lauren Robert advanced in the intermediate hurdles and 4x400 to the state meet. Senior Taylor Fenton advanced in the triple jump to the state meet. Freshman Carly Bonnett is a welcome addition as a middle distance runner.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Defending state Group 2 champion Buena and Cinnaminson are among the teams to watch in S.J. Group 2.
OUTLOOK: Haddonfield won the S.J. Group 2 title, but Buena got revenge by winning the state crown. Once again, Haddonfield will battle for multiple titles. The distance runners should be among the best in Group 2, and Johnston leads a group of individual state championship contenders.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Shaya Wilkerson was the South Jersey triple jump champion, finishing fourth in the Meet of Champions, fourth in the South Jersey Group 4 long jump, and sixth in the high jump. Senior Evann Thompson was the Group 4 champion in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 400 hurdles. She was also second in the 200 meter. Senior Allyson Gallagher was eighth in the Group 4 400-meter hurdles. Junior Natalia Ocasio was third in the S.J. Group 4 800, and second in the Group 4 1,600 meter, while junior Amanda Restivo was third and sophomore Emily McGee was fourth. McGee was also the 800-meter champion. Senior Samantha Stinsman was fourth in the S.J. Group 4 javelin. Senior Ciane Pringle was 11th in the discus in the S.J. Group 4 championships. Other key veterans include distance runner Meghan Henry, sprinter and distance runner Kiara Jelks, and distance runner Olivia Kopec.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Washington Township and Cherokee are teams to watch in the Olympic American. Those two and Southern Regional are among the S.J. Group 4 teams to beat.
OUTLOOK: The Indians were 5-0 last season and won their first South Jersey Group 4 title. The expectations remain high for coach Gerald Richardson’s team. Lenape will be a threat not only in South Jersey but for a state title, and the Indians are among the teams that should battle for the No. 1 spot in South Jersey.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Shauna Harris was third in the pole vault at the South Jersey Group 3 championships while junior Alexandra Elder placed fifth. Sophomore Alina Voelker placed 10th in the 800 meter and 11th in the 1,600 meter at the Group 3 championships. Junior Bridgette Bottinel was 10th in the long jump. Senior Katie McGettigan was eighth in the high jump. Sophomore Kelly Hopkins was seventh in the discus.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: In South Jersey Group 3, defending champion Delsea remains the team to beat.
OUTLOOK: The Quakers have some strong performers but a lack of depth may make it difficult to keep up with the likes of Delsea and Ocean City in Group 3.
Paul VI Eagles
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Sara Gilson was 10th in the 1,600 meter at the South Jersey Non-Public A championships. Sophomore Kristen McShane was fourth in the shot put and 10th in the 400 at the sectionals. Junior Savannah Britt was 13th in the long jump at the sectionals. Senior Liz Dowd and junior Catherine Fiore both finished in the Top 20 in the S.J. Non-Public A 800 meter. Senior Taylor Rasmussen placed sixth in the discus at the sectionals and sophomore Carly McMichael was 14th in the javelin.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Bishop Eustace is the favorite in the Olympic National.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles will have a solid team, but don’t appear to have the depth to defeat a team such as Eustace in the National Division. Climbing up in South Jersey Non-Public A won’t be easy, simply due to the stiff competition.
Seneca Golden Eagles
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Juniors Paige Macauley and Amy Monoghan were 12th and 13th respectively in the S.J. Group 3 1,600 meter. Macauley was seventh in the 3,200. Sophomore Moriah Webb was 14th in the 400 meter. Senior Erica Light competes in the 100 hurdles.
BIGGEST?COMPETITION:? In South Jersey Group 3, the competition is fierce and defending champion Delsea is clearly the team to beat.
OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles are young and will be solid in the distance events, but developing depth in the field events will be a priority. Last season, Seneca finished ninth in the South Jersey Group 3 meet and a higher place is a realistic goal this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Annie Johnson was the S.J. Group 4 champion in the 100 meter (12.27) and the 400 (57.71). She was second in the state Group 4 meet in the 400 and placed fourth in the Meet of Champions. Sophomore Julia DeSpirito was second in the S.J. Group 4 800 meter and eighth in the 1,600, while senior Kristen Niedrach was 11th. Senior Ciarra Stroud was 17th in the 800 meter.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Winslow Township and Timber Creek will be the teams to beat in the division.
OUTLOOK: The Renegades were 3-2 last season and matching or surpassing that mark is realistic. The Renegades will be strong in the sprints and middle distance, but the key for coach Beth Ritter’s Renegades is how the field events develop.
Washington Township Minutemaids
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Dina Iacone is the defending state Group 4 champion in the 3,200 (10:42.12). She also captured the South Jersey Group 4 titles in the 1,600 meter and 3,200, and was third in the Meet of Champions for the 3,200. She will continue her running career and education at Cornell University. Senior Miranda Roberts was fifth in the Group 4 100-meter hurdles and also competes in the 100 meter and pole vault. Other key veterans are junior Brianna Harrington (weights) and senior Emily Comerford (javelin). Freshman Lindsey Kane will be a strong distance addition; she ran 5:29 in her first indoor mile.
BIGGEST COMPETITION: Lenape is the team to beat in the American Division and South Jersey Group 4.
OUTLOOK: Once again, the Minutemaids will have a strong team, one more than capable of being in the Top 10 in South Jersey. Overtaking an experienced Lenape team will be a difficult task.
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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Spring Sports Preview, January, 2012.
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