Johnson Poll: North 2 Group 4 Sectional Preview
BIg…BIG… Big…BIG Johnson Poll today. That’s right; today’s installment of the Johnson Poll is all about Big. Big Meet, Big Schools, Big Teams, Big Dogs, Big Time Fun! Outrageous Fun! It’s Gonna be HUGE!
Group 4 Boys: Running with the Devils
The Group 4 race is all about the Devils. The Westfield Blue Devils, Ridge Red Devils, and Hunterdon Central Red Devils will clash, turning Warinanco Park into a veritable storm of fire and brimstone (that might keep the geese away for once.) The Warriors of Watchung Hills will fight to keep the flames at bay, while the Hawks of J.P. Stevens will try and soar above the competition. But when the smoke clears and the race is over, there will only be one winner, the Blue Devils of Westfield.
Westfield returns last year’s winner, Matt Luppino as well as last year’s 8th place finisher, Phillip Edwards. Luppino and Edwards are Westfield’s only returners from last year, but that won’t be a problem for the Blue Devil’s who have a strong group of upper classmen to fill in for last year’s seniors. Coming off a strong win at the Union County Meet, Westfield will once again show why they are ranked in the top ten in the state.
The race for the next four spots should be much more interesting. 5 teams: Ridge, Hunterdon Central, North Hunterdon, J.P. Stevens, and Watchung Hills will fight it out for the remaining four spots and a trip to groups. Each team makes a strong case to move on to groups. Hunterdon Central posted the fastest 5 man average (17:37) at Shore Coaches of any of the contenders, but Ridge was one second behind them. North Hunterdon also ran well at Shore Coaches, posting a 17:48 team average and feature one of the strongest individuals in the race, David Mugavero. JP Stevens returns all 5 scorers from last year while Watchung Hills also returns a strong squad.
Lucky for me, 4 of these 5 teams recently competed at the Skyland Conference Championships. Ridge placed the highest, coming in 4th, ahead of Watchung Hills (5th), Hunterdon Central (6th), and North Hunterdon (8th). In my eyes, Ridge is a cut above the other four, and should wind up in second. After that, the final three spots are up in the air. But that won’t stop me from telling you who’ll make it to groups.
- Watchung Hills
- JP Stevens
Top 10 Individuals
- Luppino, Westfield
- Mugavero, North Hunterdon
- Edwards, Westfield
- Patel, JP Stevens
- Negri, Watchung Hills
- Russo, Westfield
- Cardova, Elizabeth
- Layding, North Hunterdon
- Little, Hunterdon Central
- Esler, Westfield
Group 4 Girls Preview: Mighty Lions succumb to pack of Devils
While in the Boys race, Westfield is the clear favorite, things are much closer on lady’s side. North Hunterdon, last year winner, returns an incredibly strong squad. Looking at last year’s results, North Hunterdon has 5 of the top 6 returners. Below are results for last year’s race with seniors removed:
Going off of just last year’s results, it looks like North Hunterdon has it in the bag. But don’t count out the Lady Blue Devil’s just yet. North Hunterdon and Westfield have competed against each other twice so far this year. At the Bernie McGee Invitational North Hunterdon finished ahead of Westfield (in the merged results) while at Shore Coaches, Westfield finished two spots ahead of North Hunterdon (with a slower average time). North Hunterdon has a formidable one two punch with Eve Glasergreen and Cailyn Levine, while Westfield strength is in their pack, with only a 40 second difference between their one and five runners.
In a smaller Huge race like Sectionals (let me clarify, the size of the race is relatively small, but the race itself is Huge) the one two punch of North Hunterdon will count for less. Westfield could finish all five of their girls in the top 10 and could finish all 5 before North Hunterdon’s third. That being said, North Hunterdon’s 3-5 girls will not be far behind the Westfield pack and if they break up the Westfield pack, things could go their way.
The other three group qualifying spots will likely be taken by Ridge, Watchung Hills, and Phillipsburg. Ridge was only 7 points behind North Hunterdon at Skyland’s and could wind up in second if Westfield or North Hunterdon falter.
The Individual Race will be an all North Hunterdon affair between Glasergreen (last years winner) and Lavigne (4th last year) with Glasergreen likely coming out on top. Gabby Stravach of Westfield (Union County Runner Up) will likely lead the chase pack, the two North Hunterdon girls are just on different level than the rest of the field.
The Brash List: Top 5 Teams
- 1. Westfield (strength in Numbers)
- 2. North Hunterdon (could beat Westfield in bigger race)
- 3. Ridge (coming on strong)
- 4. Watchung Hills
- 5. PBURG! (PBURG!)
Top 10 Individuals
- 1. Glasergreen, North Hunterdon
- 2. Lavigne, North Hunterdon
- 3. Stravach, Westfield
- 4. Spring, Ridge
- 5. O’Dwyer, Westfield
- 6. Newman, Ridge
- 7. Brennan, Westfield
- 8. Marcotullio, Westfield
- 9. Regner, Ridge
- 10. Falk, North Hunterdon
Recap of the Preview: For Lazy Readers
- 1. Westfield Sweep
- 2. Devils is a very common team name
- 3. Luppino and Glasergreen, FTW
- 4. PBURG!