The Union Catholic boys and girls cross-country teams, highlighted by Jerika Lufrano’s near course record run, swept the team titles at the Union County Conference Championships at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Lufrano, a junior, threw down the greatest performance in meet history when she blitzed the 3.19-mile course with a meet record time of 18:33, No. 2 all-time in course history. Her victory ignited the Vikings to a near course record average and a 27-37 upset victory over Gov. Livingston, ranked No. 7 in the state. Lufrano ran away from 2016 Union County champion Victoria Vanriele of Gov Livingston and moved into the No. 2 spot in course history. Vanriele was second in 19:11.
Only Katie McCafferty of Oak Knoll, who ran 18:30 to win the Union County title in 2007, has ever covered Warinanco’s 3.19-mile dual meet course faster than Lufrano.
Lufrano’s 18:33 also helped Union Catholic average 19:45, just seven seconds off the course record average of 19:38 set in 2013 by Westfield.
UC received great performances by sophomores: Leena Morant placed third in 19:38, Zamira Ysaac was fifth in 1955, Zoe Lee placed seventh in 20:14, and Ashleigh Patterson was 11th in 20:28.
UC will have a rematch with Gov. Livingston and showdown with Watchung Division and defending champion Westfield (No. 9) at the Union County Championships on Oct. 25 at Warinanco.
Lufrano feels she has a chance to break the course record at the county meet and she feels the team race will be a great one.
“I was surprised by how fast I ran,’’ said Lufrano. “It felt great to get that close to the course record and I think I can go faster and get under 18:30 and get that record. And the team race should be a great one at the county meet. Westfield and GL are very strong teams, so we will have to have a great race to win, and I think we’ll be ready to run our best.’’
In the boys Mountain Division race, the Vikings averaged 17:06 and finished 3-4-5-11-16 on the way to a 39-50 victory over runner-up Summit. Justin Cadas led the charge for the Vikings by placing third in 16:47. Trevor Garrity was fourth in 16:52, Andre Rodriguez was fifth in 16:55. Max Berg was 11th in 17:19, and Gerard Rokosz was 16th in 16:40.
Next up for the Union Catholic boys is a showdown with defending champion Westfield, ranked No. 7 in the state, at the County meet next Thursday.