Brace Yourself…. Sectionals are Coming.
Don’t worry… the Johnson Poll is back… everyone can relax. Over the next couple days I will preview the North 2 Sectional Meet for all 4 groups. Why just North 2 you ask? Why not do a super big meet preview of all 4 sections for all 4 groups for both boys and girls? I’ll give you two reasons why:
- I know North 2. I know the teams. I know the individuals. And most importantly, I know Warinanco Park. I know every twist and turn, I know the hills (if you can call them that), I know that there will be soccer practice going on by the two mile mark (there always is), I know that the lake will be taken over by Canadian Geese, and I know that seniors from Union County will be running over the course for the hundredth (and final) time.
- I’m Lazy. Writing previews for 32 races… no thanks, I’ll stick to North 2.
To start the state sectional version of the Johnson Poll off with a bang, I’m going to begin my big meet preview with the Group 3 boys. As usual, the preview will be filled with brash picks, bad puns, and even worse pop culture references. And as a new feature for this week’s Johnson pole, I’m going to make up new mascots for each of the teams on the fly in a sort of weird word association exercise.
Boys Group 3 Team Preview
This race is stacked. Traditional XC powerhouses like the Millburn Mill Burners and the Mendham Man Hams duke it out with the newly dominant Morristown Towns People and the recently promoted Chatham Chatters and Voorhees Horsee’s (I like my team names better than the real ones). Further all the top contenders return large portions of their squads from last year. Taking a page from Letsrun, I scored last year’s meet with all the seniors taken out. Here are the results
Is that how the race is gonna go down, nope. Morristown is gonna win. They’ve beaten every other team in the section pretty handily at different points in the year. They won the Morris County meet easily and ran better than Millburn at the Manhattan Invitational. Still, Millburn returns a strong squad and I am picking them for second. Even though Millburn lost to Voorhees at Shore Coaches, the Mill Burners usual number 1, Robert Stone, was their third runner on the day. With Stone running well (he was the top finisher from North 2 Group 3 at Manhattan) Millburn should have second place wrapped up. The battle for 3rd should be close, with Chatham, Voorhees, and Mendham all in contention. If I’m gonna be brash (I’m always brash) I’m picking Chatham for third. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any Union County teams will make it to groups from Group 3.
Like a Rolling Stone: Boys Individual Preview
Robert Stone of Millburn won last year, I think he’ll win this year as well. Other individuals who will be in the mix are Paul Ehman of Mendham, Will Mitchell of Chatham, Sean Lyons of Morristown, and Christian Thompson of Voorhees. Top Union County Performers to watch out for are Andrew Livernois of Scotch Plains, Harlan Clarke of Rahway, and Connor McMahon of Cranford. They all have an outside chance of placing in the top ten and moving on to groups.
- Stone, Millburn
- Ehman, West Morris Mendham
- Thompson, Voorhees
- Mitchell, Chatham
- Lyons, Morristown
- Vernazza, Chatham
- Whitney. Voorhees
- Torres, Morristown
- Arabagian, Morristown
- Grossman, Millburn
North 2 Group 3 Girls Preview
If it were any other year, this race would be easy to pick. Way back when (in like 2008), picking the Voorhees girls to win their section was about as sure of a bet you could make. However for once, the lady horsee’s are in the midst of a down year. Though strong up top, they lack the trademark depth that once made them one of the most fearsome teams in the state. So for once, the girls North 2 Group 3 race is wide open. Check out last year’s results with seniors removed:
Mendham won last year’s race, but only returns three girls. Last year’s runners up, Morristown, return a strong team, but so do West Morris Central. At the Morris County Championships, West Morris Central finished ahead of both Mendham and Morristown. Where do Vorhees and Millburn fit into this race? It’s hard to say. Neither Vorhees or Millburn ran full teams at Shore Coaches or at the Manhattan Invitational so they haven’t competed directly against any of the Morris County teams. So the best I can do is compare times across courses. According to milesplit, the Morris County Course is 17 seconds faster than the Skyland Conference Course. Voorhees averaged 19:48 at Skyland’s. With the additional 17 seconds added to the Morris County schools average times from their county race, only West Morris Central has a faster average than Voorhees. Does that mean Voorhees will come in second, maybe? Enough analysis, time for some predictions
- 1. West Morris Central
- 2. Mendham
- 3. Voorhees
- 4. Morristown
- 5. Millburn
Individual Preview: Mackenzie Barry’s Em
The individual race will be won by Mackenzie Barry of Mendham. You can take that pick to the bank. After Barry, look out for O’kane of Morristown, Sharkey of West Morris Central, and Clarissa Mode of Voorhees.
- 1. Barry, Mendham
- 2. Sharkey, West Morris
- 3. Mode, Voorhees
- 4. Castaneda, West Morris
- 5. O’Kane, Morristown
- 6. Driscoll, Voorhees
- 7. Timoney, Mendham
- 8. Weiss, Millburn
- 9. Barone, Morristown
- 10. Ferraro, South Plainfield
That’s enough XC for today, Johnson Poll, out.