First off, congratulations to all the Summit area teams that qualified for the Meet of Champions. Of the 11 teams I covered in the group preview, 4 teams advanced to MOC’s and three other teams sent individual qualifiers. Add Oratory Prep into the mix, and the immediate Summit area is sending 5 teams to Holmdel. To put this into perspective, 5 of the 40 (1/8) teams competing at Holmdel on Saturday are from the immediate Summit area. Now I’m pretty sure the Summit area houses much less than 1/8th of NJ’s population, so proportionately this area is very well represented. Way to Go!!!!!
Like the Group preview, I’m just gonna focus on the local teams and individuals and discuss where I think they’ll finish. It’s not that I don’t like the other teams it’s that I don’t really pay attention to what’s going on outside of North Jersey (In other words, I’m lazy). And to make myself look smart, I’m going to give a range of where I think each team and individual will finish.
Will Mitchell, Chatham: Mitchell finished twelfth in a fast Group 3 race and advanced to MOC’s as one of the ten Wild Card qualifiers. Mitchell’s time of 16:19 was the 31st fastest time of the Group meet. Historically (over the last 4 years) 30th place is right around 16:20. Taking these factors into consideration, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Mitchell will finish between 25th and 30th.
Antanina Belzer, Millburn: Like Mitchell, Belzer advanced to MOC’s as a wild card qualifier after placing 13th in Group 4. Belzer’s time of 19:27 is the 45th fastest from the Group meet and over the past 4 years, Belzer’s time would have placed between 26th and 42nd at MOC’s. The girl’s field is very deep this year, so look for Belzer to finish between 40th and 50th.
Gillian McIllroy, Summit: All close readers of the Johnson Poll will recall that I picked McIllroy to finish third in Group 2. Guess what, she finished third. (See I do know what I’m doing.) McIllroy’s time of 19:01 was the 16th fastest from the Group meet, and usually a time of 19:00 will finish around 20th. McIllroy has been killing it all year and I think she has at least one more solid race under her belt. McIllroy will finish in 16th and break 19:00. (So much for giving ranges)
Millburn Boys: Millburn finished fourth in Group 4 and advanced to MOC’s as the 1st Wild Card Qualifier. Millburn’s team average of 16:41 was the 6th fastest from the Group Meet. Looking at average times is a far from perfect way to compare teams, for example Millburn posted a faster average time than Cherry Hill East at groups, but lost to them by 6 points. Millburn has really been coming on strong as a team this year, and are led by likely top 10 finisher Robert Stone (5th place last year.) Look for Millburn to finish between 5th and 7th.
New Providence Boys: New Providence snuck into the Meet of Champions, finishing third in Group 1. New Providence’s team average of 17:50 from Groups is the third slowest of any men’s team competing. New Providence is kind of in no man’s land as a team; their average is thirty seconds behind the team with the 4th slowest average. If Jordan Price can replicate his midseason form, New Providence might be able to sneak up on Pingry, but most likely they will finish 17th. (Considering that’s 17th in the State, that’s not bad at all)
Oratory Prep: Oratory faces a similar situation as New Providence, coming into MOC’s with the slowest average time from the Group Meet, despite finishing in second in Non-Public B. If Oratory can put a good performance together, they can finish as high as 17th.
Summit Boys: Summit advanced to MOC’s by finishing third in group 2, despite a rough race. If Leland Jones can bounce back from a subpar race (by his high standards) at groups, Summit can place pretty well. They have the 14th fastest average from the group meet, and are likely hungry for revenge against Bernards. If Jones runs well and if the rest of the Summit pack can return to their mid-season form I think they can finish eleventh. For this to happen, they’ll have to post a sub 17 average and one of the teams from Group 3, 4, or Non-Public A will have to have an off day. 11th is close to a best case scenario for Summit and I think it’s more likely that they’ll finish either 13th or 14th. The gap between Summit and the bigger (Groups 3, 4) or faster (Non-Public A, Haddon…) schools is just a little too great for them to make up this year. ((Side Note: What’s in the water down Haddonfield way, EPO?)(Side Side Note: That’s a Joke; I am in no way suggesting that Haddon schools are doped to the gills.))
All things considered, Summits place this year at MOC’s isn’t super important. They have a young team (top 5 at groups were all juniors) and competing against the Big Dogs at MOC’s will provide them with valuable experience for next year when they break into the top 10. And if they have another tough race and come up short of their expectations, it’s just more fuel on the fire for next year.
Kent Place: Easily the biggest surprise of the Group Meet for me was Kent Place winning the Non-Public B title. In my group preview, I picked the dragons (sweet mascot) to finish third, but the ladies from Kent Place proved me wrong. After yelling out their school words “Fire and Blood” (not their school words) at the starting line the dragons overpowered their competition with a 4-5 finish. The targaryans Dragons come into MOC’s with the 16th best average time. Best case scenario for Kent Place is a 14th place finish, more likely they’ll finish 15th or 16th. But if watching a certain medieval fantasy drama on a premium cable channel has taught me anything, it’s to never count out the Dragons.
Top 5 Teams, Just for Fun
Ok, I know I said I wasn’t going to try and predict the top teams, but I just couldn’t resist.
Top 5 Boys Teams:
1. CBA (this is the easy part)
2. Middle Town North
3. Don Bosco
4. West Windsor Plainsboro South
Top 5 Girls Teams:
1. West Windsor Plainsboro South
3. Red Bank Catholic
4. Mount Olive
5. Voorhees (cant count em out)
Until Indoor (maybe)
-The Johnson Poll