#Johnson’s Big Meet Preview: Union County Championships

In his recent blog post, my co-worker Chris Croff declared fall was his favorite time of year due to “the emotional bliss he experiences while trail running during the jovial autumn weather.” (his words, not mine)  Trail running is nice and all, but to me fall is all about Cross Country.  And on this Wednesday, the local high school cross country season heats up with the Union County Championships at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth, NJ.  As a former Union County Cross Country Championship competitor, I figure I can provide some insights on the boys race.

Before I begin my race preview, I figured it would be a good idea for me to explain the reasoning behind my analysis.  And when I say reasoning, I mean emotional based decision making.  As a graduate of Governor Livingston and as an employee of the Summit Running Company, I have certain biases towards certain teams competing in the race.  So instead of putting my biases aside and using data to make rational predictions, I’m going to put rationality aside and make my predictions on pure gut feeling. 

Boys Team Preview

The boys team race looks like it will come down between two teams, Westfield and Summit.  At the Union County Conference Championships (basically the same race as this Wednesday split up by school size) Westfield and Summit both cruised to easy victories in the Watchung and Mountain Conference races.  Though Summit ran better at the conference meet, Westfield ran a team of all seniors (so much depth) and ran many of their usual top 7 in the JV race.  Once under class runners are substituted into the top 7, it looks as though Westfield is the favorite.  

Though Westfield is the favorite, there is little separating the top 5 of the two teams.  Senior Matt Luppino of Westfield and Junior Leland Jones of Summit are both contenders for the individual title while the two through five men of each team are very close.  On paper Westfield’s 2 through 5 are a few seconds faster than each of their Summit counter parts.  At the conference meet 10 seconds separated Westfield’s number two from Summits, while at the Shore Coaches Invitational earlier in the season; Westfield had a 14 second advantage over Summits number two.

So on paper at least, it looks as though Westfield are the favorites as they are strong up top and have incredible depth, but races aren’t won on paper and I’m throwing reason out the window with my picks.  As a GL graduate I hate to pick Summit to win anything, but as a Summit Running Company Employee I gotta go with the local team, so I’ll pick Summit to win in a very tight race.

Top 5 Teams on Paper                                                                                                  

  1. Westfield
  2. Summit
  3. Scotch Plains
  4. Union Catholic
  5. Governor Livingston

What’s Actually Gonna Happen (Emotion based picks)

  1. Summit (Why not?)
  2. Westfield (They always win, need to share better)
  3. GL (really wanna see them beat UC)
  4. Union Catholic (good team but I dont wanna pick em to finish any hire)
  5. Scotch Plains (good showing at conferences)

So there’s my two cents on the upcoming race,if I have time I will do a preview of the girls race and the individual race tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more BIG MEET PREVIEWS throughout the season

-Chris J

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