The Johnson Poll: North 2 Group 2 Sectional Preview, I’m Bringing Brashy Back
I’m going to start today’s installment of the Johnson Poll with one of my favorite quotes from one of the world’s most inspirational speakers: “OHHHHHHHHHH YEAH!” (Kool Aid Man, 1975)
As you can tell, I’m pumped up! My Group 4 preview was all about BIG, but with my North 2 Group 2 preview I’m going back to my roots- pure emotion, no reason, just brash. Writing the previews for Group 3 and 4 was nice, I got to preview some new teams and put some of the best teams in the state under the microscope. However I had no real attachment to any of the teams (other than PBURG!) so my predictions were a lot less biased and based mainly on recent results (which most people probably think is a good thing.) Today, I get to talk about my Highlanders and emotion will once again trump reason. Reason won’t prevail!
Boys North 2 Group 2 Preview: Can the Mountaineers Reach the Summit
Yes, the team race will be a battle of the alpinists, with the Bernards Mountaineers and the Summit Hill Toppers facing off. (side note: This has been bugging me for a while. Summit Hill Toppers is a very redundant nickname if you ask me. A summit is the same things as the top of a hill, why not call the team the Summit Summiteers.) Bernards won the race last year by three points and both teams return a majority of their squad. With all seniors (and Voorhees) removed from last year’s results it looks like this year’s race should be super close again.
Summit and Bernards match up pretty well. Summit has an advantage up top in Leland Jones (last year’s winner) but Bernards #1 Chris Sisto (last year’s runner up) is not too far behind. Things really get interesting when you compare the 2-5 men of each team. At Shore Coaches Bernards had a faster average (17:26), but Summit was not far behind (17:31). However Summit ran the race without Jones, who would have certainly brought their five man average below Bernards. Looking at recent results, the teams averaged similar times with Bernards producing a 16:32 average at the Skyland Conference Meet compared to Summits 16:38 average at the Union County Meet. It’s tough to compare the two results. While Summits time might be a little slow because the Warinanco Duel Meet Course is a little long (how long, nobody really knows,) Warinanco in general is a fairly quick course. I don’t know much about Natirar Park (where Bernards ran), but according to mile-splits new course rating system, it’s about as average as a cross country course gets. (Warinanco gets a slightly slower rating, but it doesn’t specify how the extra distance of Warinanco factors into the course rating.)
Other than Jones, in my eyes Summit has a slight advantage because they have a faster sixth man. Only 5 seconds separated Summit’s five and six man at Union County’s, while 38 separated Bernards 5 and 6. If one of the top 5 has an off day, it won’t be a big problem for Summit, but could cause a lot of problems for Bernards.
Before I tell you who’ll win, let me talk about GL for just a little bit. The Highlanders came in fifth last year, but are coming off of an impressive performance at Counties. They’ll duke it out for third with Cliffside Park and Madison. Cliffside Park has run some fast times, but they’ve all been on a blazing fast course at Darlington Park. Madison has the top individual on any team not named Summit or Bernards, but lack the depth to challenge Cliffside Park or GL. If the Highlanders can replicate the form they showed at counties, they are a shoe in for third.
Brash List: Top 5 Teams (Group Qualifiers)
1. Bernards (Bet you didn’t see that coming)
2. Summit (Will beat Bernards at Groups to make MOC’s)
4. Cliffside Park
Top 10 Individuals
1. Leland Jones, Summit
2. Chris Sisto, Bernards
3. Patrick Hanley, Madison
4. Will Myers, Bernards
5. Kyle Brackman, GL
6. Mitchel Booth, Summit
7. Richard Gruters, Bernards
8. Ryan Blume, Summit
9. Adam Ziyadeh, Cliffside Park
10. Kyrstoff Sutherland, GL
North 2 Group 2 Girls Sectional Preview: There Can Only Be One!!!
This is the race I’m most excited to preview. (That’s right, I can get excited about a girls race) The biggest storyline is that the terror that is the Lady Vikings of Voorhees moved up to Group 3. The second biggest storyline is that Summit and Bernards lost a lot of key girls to graduation. With so many girls gone, this years race is wide open. Summit, Bernards, and GL (the three top returning teams) raced earlier in the year at Shore Coaches. Summit (82 pts, 21:21 avg) led by senior Gillian McIllroy came out on top, GL (100 pts 21:36 avg) was second, and Bernards (127 pts, 22:02 average) was third. Summit has continued to look like the best team, beating GL the two other times they’ve raced this year.
But there have been signs this year that GL and Bernards could put up a fight. At the Skyland Conference Meet, Bernards Freshman Paige Petty had a breakthrough performance, finishing fifth in a very strong field. GL has also shown signs of fight. At the Union County Conference, Emily Harriot and Amanda St. Clair, finished in 2nd and 4th respectively, ahead of Summits number 2. The Highlanders have a potentially fearsome triumvirate of St. Clair, Harriot, and Emily Herring (GL’s highest finisher last year). If GL’s big 3 can finish in front of Summits number 2, things could get very interesting.
I gave a hint as to who I think will win in the sub-title, a hint that only fans of entertainingly bad 80’s action movies will appreciate. That’s right, I made a Highlander reference. I just have a feeling that everything is going to fall into place for the Highlanders. Their top 3 girls have yet to all perform at the level that they can, and I think they are due for a big race. Maybe I’m feeling extra brash cause I haven’t made many brash picks in my sectional preview, but I legitimately feel that they have a chance. If Bernards can help displace some of Summits girls and GL’s top 3 run well, I think the Highlanders will pull off the upset.
The Ultra-Brash List: Group Qualifiers
1. The Highlanders of Governor Livingston!!!!
5. Hanover Park
Top 10 Individuals Qualifiers
1. Gillian McIllroy, Summit
2. Paige Petty, Bernards
3. Emily Herring, GL
4. Francesca Petraco, Hanover Park
5. Emily Harriot, GL
6. Amanda St. Clair, GL
7. Katie Sullivan, Rutherford
8. Alexandra Della Salla, Summit
9. Beatrice Giordano, Bernards
10. Ally Schlosser, Parsippany
Recap of the Preview (For Lazy Readers)
1. Emotion will Prevail
2. Brash is Back
3. Bernards Mountaineers reach the Summit
4. Excited about the girls
5. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE LADY HIGHLANDERS, FTW