The Kingsway cross country team continues to roll along.
On Nov. 16, the Kingsway girls cross country team marched into Delsea Regional High School to take on the best South Jersey Group IV schools. Those teams saw the best of the Dragons that day, as Kingsway walked out of there with its fifth consecutive South Jersey Group IV championship.
The Dragons not only won; they were dominant. They finished 40 points ahead of Cherokee and also took down Shawnee and Cherry Hill East. They are the third, fourth, and fifth ranked teams in South Jersey. They also ranked in the top 20 in South Jersey.
All seven of the varsity runners finished in the top 20 of a race that featured the top 120 girls in South Jersey Group IV. They had five girls in the top 12. Allie Pierontoni, Ashlynne Burke, and freshman Aubrey Pierontoni finished in the top seven.
“We really wanted to go out there and snatch control of the race from the beginning,” said Allie Pierontoni, who ran 18:25. “We knew we had a target on our backs and didn’t want to allow these other teams the opportunity to hang in there with us later in the race. We wanted to get out as a pack and control the race.”
Kingsway’s pack running mentality truly is a staple of their program, going back to the days of former legendary coach Milt Fredericks and his teams, who won a multitude of championships in the 1980s and 1990s.
After the race, it was discovered that the girls broke the South Jersey record for the fastest team average of all time. Their girls had an AVERAGE time of 18:57 for 5000 meters (3.1 miles). This broke the old record (19:01) held by the great Kingsway championship squad that included Rachel Vick, Destiny Stanford, and Mackenzie Nugent who currently are running at UConn, Howard, and Pitt respectively.
So, does the team or the community take it for granted?
“These girls take every championship seriously,” said Hess. “They are driven to continue every streak we have.”
“Sometimes, people outside of the program see the program’s success and assume that winning the South Jersey Group IV championship is just going to happen every year and therefore isn’t special to win,” Hess continued. “They’re each special in their own way, and each one should be celebrated as if it were the first one.”
With five of the top seven runners returning next year, it appears that this group has a great chance to continue this remarkable streak.
“We truly take pride in our championship streak,” said Burke. “We don’t want to let down the people who came before us and got this program to the place where it is. Also, the girls currently on the team run for each other. We refuse to let each other down.”
By Christian Lynch