What an astonishing performance by Haddonfield’s Briana Gess, who became the first South Jersey freshman ever to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals and ran one of the fastest times ever by a New Jersey girl on Van Cortlandt Park’s historic course.
Gess ran 17:43 to place fifth in a loaded field at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals Saturday on the legendary Van Cortlandt Park 5,000-meter course in the Bronx.
Her time might be even more remarkable than her place. More on her time later.
The top 10 runners in each of four regions advance to the Foot Locker Nationals, two weeks away at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Gess was the only New Jersey girl in the top 10.
She finished just 11 seconds behind overall winner Tessa Barrett of Abington Heights High School, a Penn State signee from Waverly, Pa., in the Poconos.
Incredibly, Gess is the fifth Haddonfield runner to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals since the meet’s inception back in 1979.
Jim Smith (1979) and Chris Platt (2001) have represented Haddonfield in the boys race, and Erin Donohue (1998) and Marielle Hall (2009) have represented Haddonfield in the girls race.
Gess’s fifth-place finish is best ever by a New Jersey freshman at Foot Locker Northeast Regionals. The only other New Jersey freshman to qualify for nationals was Briana Jackucewicz of Colts Neck, who placed seventh at Regionals as a freshman in 18:01 and went on to place 37th at nationals.
Gess is only the ninth South Jersey girl to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals, although she’s the sixth in the last four years.
5. Briana Gess (Haddonfield), 17:43
4. Holly Bischof (Hainesport, Bishop Eustace), 18:24.9
3. Megan Lacy (Marlton, Cherokee), 18:08.0
4. Megan Venables (Laurel Springs, Highland), 18:11.0
3. Chelsea Ley (Clarksboro, Kingsway), 18:33.1
5. Marielle Hall (Haddonfield), 18:36.4
5. Chelsea Ley (Clarksboro, Kingsway), 18:08.3
2. Brittany Sedberry (Beesley’s Point, Ocean City), 18:16.4
2. Erin Donohue (Haddonfield), 18:08
3. Michelle Rowen (Turnersville, Washington Twp.)
Now, the important question of exactly where Gess ranks with her 17:45 in state history.
This is amazing.
Gess’s time is FOURTH-FASTEST ever by a New Jersey girl at Van Cortlandt and fastest in 25 years!
With thanks to “Kalaby” and Pat Montferrat for helping fill in the missing years, here is the all-time Van Cortlandt 5,000-meter New Jersey list. Talk about elite company! Wow!!!
17:08.1 … Janet Smith (North Edison), 1983
17:28.7 … Michelle Rowen (Washington Twp.), 1982
17:42.3 … Christi Constantin (Kittatinny Reg.), 1988
17:43.0 … Briana Gess (Haddonfield), 2013
17:52.0 … Ashley Higginson (Colts Neck), 2006
17:53.6 … Kathleen McCafferty (Oak Knoll), 2007
17:54.9 … Danielle Tauro (Southern Reg.), 2005
17:55.4 … Jodie Bilotta (North Hunterdon), 1985
17:55.6 … Kathleen Trotter (Red BankReg.), 2002
17:55.9 … Anne Marie Letko (North Hunterdon), 1985
We’ll have more on Foot Locker Regionals during the week and next week leading up to Nationals!