Union Catholic Boys Set Fastest Time in State History, Finish Fourth at RunningLane Championships – Union News Daily
SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The Catholic Union Boys Cross Country capped off a magical season by becoming the fastest team in New Jersey history and placing fourth in a race loaded with national powers, and Jimmy Wischusen and Kaleigh Gunsiorowski broke records at the Garmin RunningLane Championships at John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Alabama on Saturday, December 4.
This meet served as the unofficial National Championships, as the Nike Cross Nationals were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Union Catholic, an independent school in Scotch Plains, entered the race ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and No. 7 in the nation. He cemented his place among the greatest packs in state history by putting three guys under 15 minutes, including Wischusen’s second fastest time in US history, and becoming fastest team in New Jersey history with an average of 15:02.72 in their fourth-place finish with 299 points in the Gold Division race.
The Catholic Union’s five-man average of 15:02.72 broke the previous 5k state team record, 15:03.78, set by Christian Brothers Academy at the cross-country championships. country at the 2013 Shore Conference at Ocean County Park.
The lightning-fast course produced many of the fastest times ever run in United States history; hundreds of personal bests have been set. In Gold Division races, 71 boys dipped below 15 minutes and 128 girls dipped over 18 minutes.
The boys’ gold race was won by the nation’s No. 1 school, California’s Newbury Park, which launched the fastest race in high school history and swept the top three spots with all three times fastest high school cross-country runs ever on the way to an average of 2:14 p.m.
Colin Sahlman of Newbury (14:03.29), Leo Young (14:05.07) and Lex Young (14:05.49), as well as fourth runner-up Zane Bergen of Niwot, Colorado, who ran 14:09.91, all ran faster than the former all-time fastest time of 14:10.4, set in 2000 by Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford, Michigan.
Union Catholic was led by the dynamic duo of Shane Brosnan and Wischusen.
Harvard-bound Brosnan led the charge for Union Catholic placing 13th in 14:25.64, the fourth-fastest 5K cross-country time ever by a New Jersey runner. Brosnan concluded his season on Saturday, Dec. 11 by finishing seventh at the EastBay Nationals in San Diego.
Wischusen, according to the MileSplit database, became the second fastest in United States history by placing 16th in 14:33.94, the fifth fastest time ever in New Jersey.
The only New Jersey runners to go faster in a 5K cross-country race than Brosnan and Wischusen are legendary Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep and Jackson Barna of Ridge. Cheserek, widely considered the best high school distance runner in US history, has the two fastest cross country times in the state – 14:18.7 in 2012 and 14:20 in 2011 , both at the Essex County XC Championship meet at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield. Barna became New Jersey’s third-fastest runner on Saturday, Dec. 4, when he placed eighth in 14:22.14.
All seven Catholic Union runners set huge personal bests.
After Brosnan and Wischusen, the Catholic Union scorers were Myles Plummer, 68th in 14:59.65; junior Caudell Cadresse, 196th in 15:37.26; and junior Ryan Cichocki, 198th in 15:37.26. Freshman Evan Weber (16:24.82) and second Josh Hunsinger (17:23.84) were the No. 6 and No. 7 runners for Union Catholic.
In women’s competition for Union Catholic, Gunsiorowski, a junior who played soccer until this season, capped off her remarkable rookie season on the trails by placing 19th in the Silver Division race in 18:13.42 to beat the school record of 18:17, set in 2018 by Jerika Lufrano. In the Bronze Division race, Holy Cross-bound Abby Granrath clocked a season-best 19:40.74, to finish 47th.
The Catholic Union Boys’ performance on Saturday, Dec. 4 is the latest gem for the Vikings in a season full of coronations. In addition to their record 15:02 average, the Vikings won their first Meet of Champions title by an average of 16:01, No. 2 in Holmdel Park history; won the non-public A title for the first time; repeated as Union County Champions with a Warinanco Park course record average of 16:03; and ran a course-record average of 15:49 at Oak Ridge Park.
Considering that only one New Jersey cross country team has ever won a national title – CBA in 2011 at Portland Meadows, Oregon – and only one team has run faster than Union Catholic at Holmdel Park – CBA has ran 15:52 in 2013 – Union Catholic is just near the top of New Jersey’s list of all-time greatest teams.
Photo courtesy of the Catholic Union