Union County Championship Preview; Part II – The Johnson Poll

Johnson’s Big Meet Preview: Union County Championships part 2

As promised, more high school xc analysis…yeah!! I’ve also decided to call whatever this is I’m writing the Johnson Poll, a pretty original name. Before I go into my individual preview, I figured I’d lay out my qualifications for writing an emotion based preview for the Union County Championships:

1. I frequent the running website letsrun.com where emotion always trumps reason

2. I once had Direct Athletics bookmarked on my computer for easy access, but had to remove it because I spent too much time looking at results

3. I graduated from a liberal arts college where they told me my education prepared me for whatever I wanted to do

Now that I’ve shown my qualifications, I’ll look at the race for the boy’s individual championship

Boys Individual Preview

The race for first should be very interesting. 5 of the top 10 individuals return from last year, with the top two both returning. The favorite has to be last year’s champion, Matthew Luppino. Luppino ran the fastest time at the Conference Meet and has run faster than any other competitor over the Warinanco Duel Meet Course. (Fun Fact: Luppino’s winning time than last year’s race is 1 second faster than what Chris Croff ran last weekend on the same course) Luppino also has some serious wheels, having run 4:16 in the 1600 in the spring, so if it comes down to a kick look for him to finish strong.

Jones-ing for a Win

Leland Jones, last year’s runner up, will hope for some county level revenge this year. Jones was eight seconds off Luppino at last year’s championship, but placed higher at the Meet of Champions later in the year. This year it looks like the race between the top two returners will be even tighter. The only head to head meeting between the two this year occurred at the Bowdoin XC Classic. Luppino won handily, but based on his time I suspect Jones was taking the race easy. Earlier in the year, the two ran identical times in separate races at the Bernie McGee class meet. However Jones won his race by almost twenty seconds, while Luppino came in second and likely had someone to run with most of the way.

The Price is Right

Luppino and Jones will likely duke it out up top, but don’t count out New Providence sophomore Jordan Price. Price easily won the Valley Division last week and ran only five seconds slower than Luppino at Holmdel. Price has also run the fastest time of any Union County runner on the season, opening the season in 15:58 at the Randolph Invitational. More impressive than the time (and the times impressive, I’ve run Randolph and don’t think its super- fast or anything) is the fact that he beat Trinity Christian’s Josiah Hanko. Hanko is one of the top runners in the state and beating him, even in an early season meet, is no easy task.

Picking the Winner

If I was smart I’d pick Luppino and argue that he has the most experience and the best mile speed. If I was a gambler I’d pick Jones and say that he has yet to run his full potential this year as he’s not really been pushed in a race yet. But I’m Brash, so I’m picking Price to pull off an upset because I’m real impressed with his early season form and his Holmdel performance. Plus I have a hard time picking someone from Westfield or Summit to win. Finally, I made a pretty sweet pun with his last name so I gotta pick him. Jordan Price, FTW

The Brash List (Gut Feeling Top Ten) 1. Price, NP 2. Jones, Summit 3. Luppino, Westfield 4. Livernois, Scotch Plains 5. Brackman, GL 6. Booth, Summit 7. Sutherland, GL 8. Cahill, GL 9. Blume, Summit 10. Manion, Summit

The Smart List (A Top Ten that makes more sense but isn’t as fun) 1. Luppino 2. Jones 3. Price 4. Russo 5. Livernois 6. Edwards 7. Booth 8. Blume 9. Brackman 10. Clarke, Rahway


Chris Johnson

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