Monday, November 27, 2017

Ashenfelter 8K surprises

On Sunday, November 26, 2017


No doubt that the Horace Ashenfelter 8K on Thursday had all the excitement that this race always generates.  The race that is just shy of five miles features a perfect course of slight grades and only one tiny hill that tests all the runners as it comes in the last mile of the race in Glen Ridge.  It has been the championship race for all divisions in the USATF New Jersey line-up for some time. 

All the teams come to race that one last time against their rival teams, and one last time for the individual to grab higher points in the New Balance Grand Prix.

So, it wasn’t surprising to see Aaron Leskow of Morristown, Kyle Price of North Brunswick, Joshua Izewski of Doylestown PA and Tim Ball of Piscataway on the starting line. 

But Morgan Pearson?  The former Del Barton standout who was running in 2011 with the Rosa twins, Joe and Jim in the Meet of Champions 3200 meters when the officials stopped the race with one lap to go due to lightning approaching the track?  Yeah, that Morgan Pearson, who after graduation went to Duke for a year or two and transferred to Colorado where he was a seven time All-American.

Pearson hit the finish line in 23:14.14, nearly a minute and a half before Leskow finished in 24:37.  Price was next in 24:55, holding off Izewski by one second and Ball next in 25:14.  Justin Scheid of Succasunna finished in 8th place in 25:33.

In the women’s race, Shelby Greany of Tuxedo Park NY and Nicolette Mateescu of Kendall Park NJ ran together for much of the race.  With the finish line in view the two put the hammer down with a race to win.  Greany hit the line in 27:52 with Mateescue next in 27:54.

The best masters women’s performance was by Nora Cary, 62, of Morristown whose 34:11 hit 91.89% Performance Level Percentage.  On the men’s masters side, Mark Zamek’s (54) 28:01 was graded at 88.27% with Gary Leaman 58, of Hardwick scoring only ticks off in 88.21% for his 29:01 finish. 

While Pearson’s appearance was a surprise, likely the debut of the Team Leonia, coached by Hector Matos, Jr. was an even bigger surprise.  Team Leonia placed first in the open men’s division.  How could that happen with all those talented and fast adidas Garden State Track Club men there?  Garden State spread their talent amongst their six teams; a strategy that works well for the club by creating an inter-club competition within a race.

Had their top men been on their A team the new kids on the block, Team Leonia, would not have captured the Gold.

In an as-close-as can-be finish in the M40 division, The Garmin racing team scored first with a combined time of 2:24:12, while the Garden State’s time was 2:24:17 – a mere five seconds difference.  And that wasn’t the only close one in the M40.  Fleet Feet Essex finished with 2:43:34 with Garden State’s B team hitting 2:43:37.

In the M50 division the Garmin team was on top.  The Shore Athletic Club was first in the M60, and the Clifton Road Runners were first in M70.

Garden State won the open women’s division.  The new in 2016 club, the New Jersey Racing Project in second.  The Garmin women took first in both the W40 and W50 while Cary’s North Jersey Masters team won the W60 division.  The durable Morris County Striders W70 and W80 teams were the sole competitors in those divisions.


There were 4, 072 finishers at the Flemington Turkey Trot with Robert Whitney of High Bridge winning the race in 15:59 and Kristen Prendergast of Annandale the first woman in 18:12.

At the Morristown 5K Matti Groll of Scottsdale AZ won the race in 15:44 with Cecilia Barowski, no town noted, first in 18:15.  Nearly 2,300 runners finished the race at Ginty Field in Morris Township.

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