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Oct 28, 2019

Local Cross Country Teams Fight to the Finish

By Tim Morris

Courtesy of CBA Athletics. Christina Brothers Academy cross county team

Early season performances have given the Colts Neck and Holmdel boys’ cross country teams reasons to re-evaluate their respective seasons.

Both teams are composed mostly of sophomores and juniors, and both started the campaign with a lot of “if”s.

When Colts Neck started the season at the Battle at Ocean County Park class meet in Lakewood, running faster times than anticipated and then finished first in the Varsity B race at the Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational in Jackson Township, Head Coach Jim Schlentz said he was “pleasantly surprised” and added “our goals changed a lot.”

Suddenly, the Cougars, who have one of the Shore Conference’s best athletes in junior Matt Bogdan, had a supporting cast behind him and could look forward to the state meets.

The Cougars followed their early success with a convincing win at the Shore Conference B North Division race at Holmdel Park. The meet scores were in dual meet format, and Colts Neck dominated, shutting out five of the seven teams. The closest meet was against Middletown North, 22-33.

Bogdan, who has run a personal best 15:22 for 5,000 meters this season, finished first overall in a pedestrian, for him, 17:19. Fellow junior Dylan Perkinson was fourth (17:51) with senior Kyler Roeder (18:04), sophomore Christian Mariner (18:18) and sophomore Ryan Johnson (18:35) in sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

“We are going to do real well,” Schlentz said of Colts Neck’s prospects for 2019.

Courtesy of Damon Godfrey. Holmdel High School boys’ cross country team

Damon Godfrey’s Holmdel Hornets look like they are ready to be among the best teams in Central Jersey Group II with a shot at making it to the Meet of Champions.

“I am very happy with the boys’ performance,” Godfrey said. “We are a very young team this year with four sophomores and a junior in our top seven, so we had a lot of unknown going into the season. The young guys have really stepped up and are working very hard.”

The A Central Division meet, also held at Holmdel Park, didn’t keep dual meet scores. The Hornets won the championship with a low team score of 29. Shore Regional was second with 64.

Junior Ethan Hood won the race in 17:42. Senior Williams Valenzuela was the team’s second scorer in fourth (18:17). He was followed by a trio of sophomores, Haroon Shaikh (18:38), Alec Mihalenko (18:42) and Louis Mejorada (18:47).

Middletown South head coach Vic Bayers has another up-and-coming squad. The Eagles won the Varsity A Division at the Stewart Invitational held at the Greystone cross country course in Morris Plains.

South stacked their five scorers within 33 seconds of each other to beat Bridgewater-Raritan, 64-80.

Juniors Jack Huston (16:56) and Ty Hasemi (16:57) finished eighth and ninth with sophomore Sean Addison (17:07) in 13th. Juniors Lang Daly (17:27) and Sean Fitzpatrick (17:28) were 18th and 19th.

Red Bank Regional’s Teddy Purdon, a senior, was the top local finisher, in second place, touring the 5,000-meter layout in 16:14.

Middletown North sophomore Connor Kinch (16:38) and senior Kevin Carragher (16:42) placed third and fourth. The Lions’ Sean Mahoney was right behind in sixth (16:44).

North took third with 91 points.

And, then, there is Christian Brothers Academy, the No. 1 team in the state. The Colts have visions of adding to their record Meet of Champions victories and returning to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, Dec. 7.

CBA’s big test of the early season was the Bowdoin X/C Classic at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, New York. This is the course that will host the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional, which serves as the qualifier for the national championships, on Saturday, Nov. 30. The Colts went there to get a look at some of the teams they will be competing against as well as do a test run over the course.

The Colts passed the test, winning convincingly and topping LaSalle College High School from Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 69-110. Westfield, one of CBA’s biggest threats in New Jersey, was third with 182 points.

Senior Shaw Powell led the way for the Colts in second overall posting a 16:12.8. Troy Hill was fourth in 16:20.60. Tim Cahill (17:03.7), Nolan Kus (17:08.8) and Ben Santos (17:12.1) went 15-22-26.

Dyestat ranks CBA No. 9 in country.