Daza and Scheid make it close. Aliaga and LaBurt beat all open women.
It doesn’t get much closer than how the New Balance Grand Prix came in 2019. Fabian Daza of Fairview finished the series with 5,681 points while Justin Scheid of Succasunna was but four points back in 5,677. What is interesting about the two is that the two men ran in only two races against each other; the By Hook or By Crook 12K and the Ashenfelter 8K. Scheid bested Daza in both of those races but Daza captured higher points in his two championship Category One races. Scheid had wins at five races while Daza had only three wins.
Both men are submasters age; Scheid is 34 and Daza 38. It’s a whole different picture for the top women. First place women, Hortencia Aliaga of Garfield is 48, and second place Suzanne LaBurt of Greenwood Lake NY is 56. Those two went over 5,600 with Aliaga at 5,682 to LaBurt at 5,638. Maybe if someone dug through the 2019 race results and calculated a mythical grand prix based on age grading the places would be reversed.
In that mythical grand prix both women would move down while Nora Cary of Morristown who is 64 would rise to the top. It was a masters world for the women in 2019 with only Lauren Jackson of Augusta at 39 in third place and Taylor Rehe, 25 in ninth place and Stacey Slaughter, 27, of Parsippany finishing the top ten.
Jackson finished with 5,559 points, only three ahead of fourth place Aya Leitz, 42, of Jersey City. Kim Anicito, 40, of Parlin was less than ten points back from Leitz with 5,549, and only 8 points ahead of Cary with 5,441 points.
Two good friends almost tied for seventh and eighth place. Karen Auteri, 38, of Belvidere finished one point ahead of Laura DeLea, 54, of Sparta; 5,400 to 5,399.
Interesting that Mark Minervini, 26, of Stanhope placed third with 5,521 points with John Hogan, 54, of Township of Washington only 2 points back, followed by Rufino Mendez of Metuchen, 39, 18 points behind Hogan with 5,501 points.
A significant gap opens from Mendez to Gary Rosenberg, 49, of Morristown with 5,390 points in sixth place. Only ten points separate seventh place from tenth with Robert Skoropski, 47, of Rockaway with 5,332 points and David Chan, 30, of Ewing with 5,325. Ramon Vasquez, 41, of Cliffside Park and Ken Ginsburg, 50, of Bedminster tied with 5,322 points for ninth and tenth places.
The top three finishers in the overall grand prix win a tidy sum in prize money thanks to the title sponsor, New Balance; $500.00, $400.00, $300.00. The top three in each five year age division win money, $200.00, $125.00 and $100.00. This needs to be publicized more. Yes, there are some restrictions. You must complete all nine races in the grand prix to qualify for prize money, and that is easily done by the competitive runners in the highly populated divisions. The senior masters get a little break from that requirement – I think only one category three race is required to earn prize money.
Those top three overall men and women get removed from the age division. For example, Daza, Scheid and Minervini are excluded from the Men 16 to 39 (open) age division and Mendez moves up to claim the $200.00, and Chan gets $ 125.00.
In addition to the New Balance Individual Grand Prix, there is also grand prix Mini One distance, Mini Two and Mini Three, and cross country. We’ll take a look at those in another post.
All of the top athletes have received letters of congratulations and invitation to the annual USATF New Jersey Awards Banquet that is taking place on January 18th at the Pines Manor in Edison. At the Banquet they will be honored and presented with their award in the Long Distance Running section of the Pines Manor hall. The event has grown to such numbers, just over 500 in recent years, that the Long Distance Running group is spun off from the other awardees, like Youth, Track and Field and Racewalking after the initial opening ceremonies.