Friday, May 29, 2020

Click here to
sign up for our newsletter!

The Journal Publications will be operating remotely effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Nov 15, 2019

Colts Neck Leads Local Teams as Cross Country Season Closes

By Tim Morris

cross country

Matt Bogdan ran his summer workouts with a chip on his shoulder.

The Colts Neck High School junior was anxious to prove he belonged alongside the top cross country runners in the state.

“It forced me to work hard to put my name up there [with the best runners] and keep it there,” he explained. “It gave me more motivation.”

That added motivation and work has made the Cougar harrier one of the breakout runners of the 2019 cross country season. Starting with his season-opening win at Six Flags Great Adventure Wild Safari Invitational, to his personal best 15:21 for 5,000 meters and, most recently, to his third place in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III race, Bogdan has clearly established himself as a runner to watch.

“Working hard the entire year paid off,” Bogdan said.

The motivation Bogdan said drives him comes primarily from wanting to leave his mark at Colts Neck, a program that has produced some of the state’s finest distance runners like state champions Craig Forys and Jordan Brannan. He has been conscious of the times they put down during their careers and is looking to top them or at least get close.

Another motivation for Bogdan was rebounding from a difficult sophomore cross country season. After an outstanding freshman year, Bogdan went through a growth spurt, growing nine inches in a year. That caused him to have knee issues which impacted last cross country season.

“I was concerned that [the knee pain] would be lingering and last a while,” the Cougar recalled.

Fortunately, his body adjusted to his growth spurt, and last winter, he was back to full training.

“I slowly worked [training runs] up running faster, harder workouts,” Bogdan explained. “My long runs were 7 and 11 miles, and I worked it up to 8 and 12 and 8 to 13 and 14 [miles].”

Colts Neck’s Matt Bogdan has emerged as one of best harriers in Central Jersey.

Bogdan came back in a big way during the outdoor track and field season, running personal bests of 4:21.45 for 1,600 meters and 9:29.50 for the 3,200. His 1,600 time was quicker than Brannan ran as a sophomore and is second only to Forys.

Cougar Head Coach Jim Schlentz said that after the growth spurt Bogdan became a more “powerful runner.”

What has impressed Schlentz the most about his standout is how smooth a runner he is.

“He looks so easy,” he said. “When I’m watching him, I can’t tell how fast he’s running.”

Armed with the confidence he gained from the track season and motivated to make his mark in cross country, Bogdan put in his best summer of training.

“Matt is really, really fit,” said Schlentz.

Bogdan’s fitness has helped him and the Colts Neck cross country team achieve their goals. Bogdan wanted to run a 5K cross country race under 15:30, which he did.

With Bogdan leading the charge, the Colts Neck cross country team is enjoying unexpected success. A better-than-expected second place finish at the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championships at Jamesburg’s Thompson Park has Schlentz reevaluating his team. The Cougars’ seem to be a year ahead of schedule.

Schlentz was looking for the 2019 season as one in which to lay the foundation for 2020. With just one senior among the team’s first six, the Cougars looked like a team poised for big things next year.

With Bogdan’s third place in the CJ II race – 16:02 at Thompson Park – the Cougars easily took second place with 72 points. Powerhouse West Windsor-Plainsboro North, favored to contend for the Meet of Champions title had 25.

“We are peaking almost perfectly,” said Schlentz.

Another junior, Dylan Perkins (16:43) was the Cougars’ No. 2 at Thompson Park, finishing in 11th place.

Christian Mariner (16:54), Kyle Roeder (17:06) and Ryan Johnson (17:21) earned 14-19-25 spots. Roeder is the lone senior among the group.

The Hornets maintained their status as one of CJ II’s top teams, finishing fourth with 140 points.

Ethan Hood paced Holmdel with his sixth place (16:46). Completing the scoring were Alec Mihalenko (17:16), Louis Mejorada (17:26), William Valenzuela (17:46) and Declan Johnson (17:58) in 21-26-38-49.

By finishing eighth, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Gabe LePage punched his ticket to the Groups. The Bulldog clocked 16:53 for his race.

Middletown North competed in North Jersey Section II up at Morris Plains in Greystone-Central Park. The Lions, led by the 7-8 finish of Connor Kinch (16:26) and Kevin Carragher (16:27), were fourth in Group III with 103 points.

Kevin Carragher has helped the Middletown North cross country team qualify for the Group championships this fall.

Sean Murphy (16:41) was 13th followed by Anthony Sclafani (17:22) and Michael Murphy (17:24) in 37th and 38th.

There is no sectional championship for parochial schools, but that didn’t keep the state’s No. 1 team, Christian Brothers Academy, from collecting another championship. Despite holding out its best runners, the Colts easily won the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference (NJTCT) held Nov. 9 at Morris Plains. CBA’s 48 points were comfortably ahead of runner-up Union Catholic’s 85.

Michael Dora (16:27), Daniel De Masi (16:38) and Nolan Kus (16:43) led the way finishing 6-8-10. Sean Elliott (16:47) and Paul Trezza (16:54) completed the team scoring in 11th and 13th.

Last month, CBA confirmed its top ranking in the state by handily winning the loaded Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships putting up dual-meet scores in both triumphs.

At Holmdel Park, Shaw Powell (15:53) and Troy Hill (16:12) went 1-2 to lead the CBA parade at the county championships. Chris DeSousa (16:33) and Tim Cahill (16:37) were fourth and fifth as CBA had a low score of 22.

Ocean County Park in Lakewood hosted the Shore Conference meet. Powell (15:13) and Hill (15:16) finished 2-3 as the Colts had a team score of 26.