Hecker's finish breaks tie as Seneca wins first title

Posted: November 04, 2007

Christine Hecker is a trained violinist whose abilities force her to miss the occasional cross-country practice or meet. Yesterday, the Seneca freshman's efforts on Delsea's 5,000-kilometer course were music to her teammates' ears.

Although Hecker's individual time of 21 minutes, 31 seconds was only the 37th-best in the Group 3 race, it was her placement - sixth on her team - that broke a tie and gave the Golden Eagles the school's first South Jersey championship.

Seneca and Shawnee were tied, 92-92, through the first five runners. Hecker finished three spots ahead of Shawnee's No. 6 runner.

"I knew it would be close, but I didn't think it would be that close and that it would come down to me," said Hecker, whose eyes lit up when she learned she broke the tie. "Everyone just did awesome today. We're like a big family, and we're so happy."

Seneca, which was paced by Lyndsy Horn's sixth-place effort, advanced to states for the third consecutive year. Timber Creek, Kingsway - led by Chelsea Ley's meet-best 17:57 - and Ocean City also advanced.

"We knew Shawnee and Timber Creek would be tough, and we were all just trying to pass as many people as we could," Horn said. "I'm just really excited, really happy."

The top five teams and top 10 individuals qualified for Saturday's state championships at Holmdel Park in Monmouth County. All Non-Public teams automatically advanced.

The highlight of the boys' races came in Group 4, as Cherokee senior Alex Yersak became just the fifth three-time champion in South Jersey history. He finished in 16:02, edging teammate Kevin Schickling by seven seconds.

Yersak downplayed the accomplishment, wanting to talk more about Cherokee's winning its first sectional title since 2000.

"Today was more of a team thing," he said. "I didn't want to take it out too fast. I wanted to give my teammates a good pace before I broke off. I think it benefited our team. We ran really well today."

Cherry Hill West, Washington Township, Mainland and Toms River North also qualified for states, but the story was Cherokee, which won by 38 points.

"We got our whole team together, and we were able to show everyone what we can do," Schickling said.

In the other races:

The tightest boys' race was in Group 3, with Ocean City edging Highland, 63-66. Brett Johnson and Ryan Birchmeier finished one-two for Ocean City. Johnson said he is finally close to 100 percent after being bothered by hyperaeration, which means he was taking more air into his lungs than he was able to exhale.

"I finally have my stamina and my kick back," said Johnson, who finished in a meet-best 15:57.

Shawnee, Lacey Township and Kingsway also qualified for states.

Haddonfield dominated the boys' and girls' Group 2 races. The Bulldawgs boys outlasted Bridgeton, 35-76, for their 27th all-time sectional title. Boo Vitez's winning time of 16:13 led Haddonfield, which will be joined at states by Bridgeton, Cinnaminson, West Deptford and Delran.

Not to be outdone, the Haddonfield girls took five of the top six spots, with nearly a perfect score of 15, en route to their 16th sectional crown. Marielle Hall led the way with an 18:25 clocking, her second title in a row. She was 1:01 ahead of teammate Liz Sikkema. Buena sophomore Meghan Borz broke up the Bulldawgs' pack in fifth place, as the Chiefs were third as a team and will go to states for the first time in eight years.

Haddon Heights' Josh Black and Mickey Borsellino went one-two, helping the Garnets edge Pennsville, 34-45, in the Group 1 boys' race.

Haddon Township's girls smoked the Group 1 field, placing six runners in the top 10. Freshman Holly Gallagher won in 19:37.

Toms River North took the girls' Group 4 team crown, followed by Lenape, Southern Regional, Millville and Cherry Hill East. Southern's Jillian Smith won the individual title in 18:00, 27 seconds better than Williamstown's Maria Ruiz.

Paul VI won the girls' Non-Public meet, 36-78, over Our Lady of Mercy. The individual winner was OLMA's Jena Peacock (19:02). Moorestown Friends triumphed on the boys' side, 46-86, over Camden Catholic. Holy Cross' Mike Sheehan won the individual title in 16:17.

The Results

GROUP 4 BOYS

Team results (top five teams advance to states): 1, Cherokee 52. 2, Cherry Hill West 90. 3, Washington Township 96. 4, Mainland 100. 5, Toms River North 122.

Individuals (top 10 runners advance to states): 1, Alex Yersak (Cherokee) 16:02. 2, Kevin Schickling (Cherokee) 16:09. 3, Kunal Sharma (Cherry Hill West) 16:10. 4, Alex Clemson (Washington Twp.) 16:18. 5, Ryan Garvin (Lenape) 16:24. 6, Chris Applegate (Cherokee) 16:24. 7, Andrew Sturner (Cherry Hill West) 16:26. 8, Andrew Everett (Mainland) 16:27. 9, Chris Kelly (Washington Twp.) 16:28. 10, Joe Kotran (Toms River North) 16:28.

GROUP 3 BOYS

Team results: 1, Ocean City 63. 2, Highland 66. 3, Shawnee 81. 4, Lacey Township 94. 5, Kingsway 131.

Individuals: 1, Brett Johnson (Ocean City) 15:57. 2, Ryan Birchmeier (Ocean City) 16:02. 3, J.J. Caffarelli (Highland) 16:15. 4, Dave Forward (Shawnee) 16:15. 5, Robert Rawls (Triton) 16:16. 6, Zachariah Rocco (Clearview) 16:20. 7, Kyle Gorczynski (Highland) 16:20. 8, Jake Latini (Seneca) 16:22. 9, J.P. Bonner (Shawnee) 16:23. 10, Phillip Wood (Lacey Twp.) 16:24.

GROUP 2 BOYS

Team results: 1, Haddonfield 35. 2, Bridgeton 76. 3, Cinnaminson 77. 4, West Deptford 130. 5, Delran 140.

Individuals: 1, Boo Vitez (Haddonfield) 16:13. 2, Christopher Poss (Manchester Twp.) 16:28. 3, Todd Campbell (Cinnaminson) 16:30. 4, Ray Schlitt (Haddonfield) 16:31. 5, Colin Baker (Haddonfield) 16:41. 6, Caleb Small (Bridgeton) 16:45. 7, Levi Orr (Bridgeton) 16:50. 8, Daniel Carreon (Haddonfield) 16:53. 9, Carl Lysaght (West Deptford (16:54). 10, Joe Turchio (Barnegat) 16:54.

GROUP 1 BOYS

Team results: 1, Haddon Heights 34. 2, Pennsville 45. 3, Haddon Township 90. 4, Maple Shade 133. 5, Penns Grove 150.

Individuals: 1, Josh Black (Haddon Hts.) 16:18. 2, Mickey Borsellino (Haddon Hts.) 16:22. 3, Mark Kearney (Pennsville) 16:37. 4, Andrew Whitman (Haddon Hts.) 16:46. 5, Anthony Mowers (Pennsville) 16:49. 6, Eric DuBois (Schalick) 16:54. 7, Lamere Buchanan (Glassboro) 16:56. 8, Matthew Powers (Pennsville) 16:56. 9, Colin Lynch (Haddon Hts.) 16:57. 10, Brian Abate (Maple Shade) 17:02.

NON-PUBLIC BOYS

Team results: 1, Moorestown Friends 46. 2, Camden Catholic 86. 3, Paul VI 94. 4, Bishop Eustace 102. 5, St. Augustine Prep 126.

Individuals: 1, Mike Sheehan (Holy Cross) 16:17. 2, Sean Denson (Moorestown Friends) 16:47. 3, Ryan Mathews (St. Augustine) 17:00. 4, Bob Engel (Moorestown Friends) 17:02. 5, Andy Arnold (Bishop Eustace) 17:10. 6, John Siracusa (Holy Spirit) 17:20. 7, Walter Cantwell (Camden Catholic) 17:23. 8, Thomas Hoban (Paul VI) 17:31. 9, Michael Rankin (Paul VI) 17:31. 10, Adam Roszkowski (Wildwood Catholic) 17:43.

GROUP 4 GIRLS

Team results: 1, Toms River North 71. 2, Lenape 95. 3, Southern Regional 101. 4, Millville 103. 5, Cherry Hill East 133.

Individuals: 1, Jillian Smith (Southern) 18:00. 2, Maria Ruiz (Williamstown) 18:27. 3, Missy Showers (Cherry Hill East) 18:42. 4, Lindsay Bertulis (Millville) 18:46. 5, Brooke Kott (Millville) 18:59. 6, Angela Rugino (Toms River North) 19:00. 7, Britney Kott (Millville) 19:02. 8, Caitlin Orr (Lenape) 19:12. 9, Chelsea Cox (Southern) 19:18). 10, Barrie Cohen (Eastern) 19:20.

GROUP 3 GIRLS

Team results: 1, Seneca 92*. 2, Shawnee 92. 3, Timber Creek 104. 4, Kingsway 112. 5, Ocean City 121.

Individuals: 1, Chelsea Ley (Kingsway) 17:57. 2, Casey Doyle (Shawnee) 18:48. 3, Megan Venables (Highland) 18:56. 4, Catie McMahon (Lacey Twp.) 19:31. 5, Megan Arnold (Timber Creek) 19:33. 6, Jenn Rawls (Triton) 19:41. 7, Felicia O'Donnell (Delsea) 19:43. 8, Lyndsy Horn (Seneca) 19:44. 9, Marina Mestres (Shawnee) 19:44. 10, Cassandra Lenkowski (Clearview) 19:49.

GROUP 2 GIRLS

Team results: 1, Haddonfield 16. 2, Barnegat 80. 3, Buena 81. 4, West Deptford 115. 5, Middle Township 147.

Individuals: 1, Marielle Hall (Haddonfield) 18:25. 2, Liz Sikkema (Haddonfield) 19:26. 3, Mia Spinelli (Haddonfield) 19:33. 4, Monica Ramstad (Haddonfield) 19:36. 5, Meghan Borz (Buena) 19:39. 6, Alyssa D'Orazio (Haddonfield) 19:49. 7, Jackie Sikkema (Haddonfield) 19:51. 8, Kassandra Irizarry (Bridgeton) 19:58. 9, Lori Oglesby (Buena) 19:59. 10, Becky Barber (Hadonfield) 20:11.

GROUP 1 GIRLS

Team results: 1, Haddon Township 27. 2, Haddon Heights 78. 3, Maple Shade 118. 4, Cape May Tech 131. 5, Woodstown 133.

Individuals: 1, Holly Gallagher (Haddon Twp.) 19:37. 2, Lisa Borsellino (Haddon Hts.) 20:00. 3, Eileen O'Mara (Haddon Twp.) 20:38. 4, Rachel Quinn (Haddon Hts.) 20:53. 5, Victoria Freels (Maple Shade) 21:08. 6, Marisa Baumann (Haddon Twp.) 21:20. 7, Christina Chila (Paulsboro) 21:32. 8, Courtney McGee (Haddon Twp.) 21:42. 9, Kathryn Mulholland (Haddon Twp.) 21:45. 10, Julie Discher (Haddon Twp.) 21:58.

NON-PUBLIC GIRLS

Team results: 1, Paul VI 36. 2, OLMA 78. 3, Wildwood Catholic 91. 4, Bishop Eustace 94. 5, Holy Spirit 168.

Individuals: 1, Jena Peacock (OLMA) 19:02. 2, Tara Wuko (Wildwood Catholic) 19:47. 3, Chrissy Casiello (Wildwood Catholic) 19:52. 4, Deirdre MacFarlane (Paul VI) 19:58. 5, Karen Wojciechowski (Paul VI) 20:19. 6, Theresa Blumenstein (Paul VI) 20:19. 7, Molley Finnegan (Camden Catholic) 20:23. 8, Montana DiPietrantonio (Bishop Eustace) 20:26. 9, Sarah Gettings (Paul VI) 20:47. 10, Melanie Wiechecki (OLMA) 20:48.

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