And So It Begins Again!!
Randolph Invitational to Open 2012 Campaign
Ready or not, here we go.
The 2012 New Jersey cross-country season is set to kickoff on Friday, when some of the best teams and biggest stars in the state will seek to shine under the lights at the Randolph Invitational at Freedom Park in Randolph. The first gun to get this party started is scheduled to be fired at 6 p.m. There are 11 races on tap, including six varsity (3 boys and 3 girls). The races are divided by school sizes with A being the largest and C the smallest.
Ok, time to dig into each varsity race and check out the top storylines. Boys first
C DIVISION (6:20 p.m.)
The big news here is the debut of junior Josiah Hanko of Trinity Christian. Yes, he’s the younger brother of former Trinity Christian star Andrew Hanko, a 2007 graduate who was an All-State runner.
Hanko, who had been a soccer player at the tiny school in Montville, emerged as one of the top distance runners in the state when he rallied from ninth place over the final 400 to place fourth in the 3,200 at the Meet of Champions last June in 9:14.56. Hanko is the only runner on his team.
A couple of the state’s top Non-Public teams will lineup in this race, as Union Catholic and St. Rose (Belmar) will square off in a race that also features always tough Bronxville of New York, the defending champion.
St. Rose was second and Union Catholic third at the state Non-Public B Championships last fall. UC has five of its top 7 back. ``We should have a chance to win,’’ said UC coach McCabe. ``The guys are great shape and should run well.’’ Bronxville returns two of its top three from last year, junior John Flannery (third last year), and senior John Vetromile (sixth last year).
B DIVISION (6:35 p.m)
The matchup looked great on paper, but the Sussex County throw down between Wallkilll Valley and Pope John, two state powerhouses, lost a lot of juice because Pope John won’t be at full strength. Morris Hills is also in this division, but will not run in the varsity race.
Wallkill Valley, the state Group 2 runner-up last year, brings back its entire top 7 as it begins its quest to try to win its first state tile in school history. Leading the charge for coach Sabrina Lucas is senior James Corti. ``Our main goal is just to come in and run well and mostly focus on improving on our times from last year,’’ said Corti.
Pope John will be minus three of its top guns, including Chris Hatler, who will be on a college visit to Virginia Tech.
Individually, Corti and Steve Maine of Highland will lock horns in what should be a good battle to the line. Maine finished 32nd in 16:24 and Corti was 53rd in 16:40 at the M of C last fall.
A DIVISION (8:45 p.m.)
Look out for North Hunterdon!
The Lions, who peaked at the right time when it finished the season last year with a flourish to place 8th at the Meet of Champs, return 5 of 7 guys who ran at the M of C.
``Summer training was great and the guys are in great shape and ready to go,’’ said North Hunterdon coach Tom Higgins. North Hunterdon looks like it has the potential to be even better than it was last year. ``Could be,’’ said Higgins.
Other teams to keep an eye on include Randolph, Jackson, Ridge, Hunterdon Central, and North Rockland New York.
The individual race features Skyland Conference rivals Andy Adamovics of Montgomery and David Folsom of North Hunterdon. Adamovics ran 16:20 at the M of C last year to place 28th.
Here’s a glance at the girls races.
C DIVISION (6:50 P.M.)
The C Division features big, bad Bronxville of New York, ranked No. 13 in the nation, NJ state Non Public B champion Gill St. Bernard’s, and Group 1 power Kinnelon .
But the New York juggernaut will not have the remarkable Mary Cain, the course record holder with a 17:50.2 last year, in its lineup. Cain, now a junior, had a long outdoor track season, culminating with an appearance at the U.S. Olympic Trials where she ran the 800. Cain ran a N.Y. State record 2:03.34 in the 800 and ran 4:14.74 in the 1,500 as a sophomore! Yikes!!!!
``She had a long track season and is just getting started,’’ said Bronxville longtime coach Jim Mitchell. No need to rush.’’
Mitchell said he expects Cain to race by Sept. 22 at Warwick, and possibly on Sept. 15 at Vanny.
Even without the mighty Cain, Bronxville, behind senior Meredith Rizzo and junior Emilie Hoffer, is still the team to beat as its returns in its entire team that rolled to this championship a year ago.
Gill St. Bernard, with six of its top seven back, should be right in the mix along with defending North Jersey, Section 2 Group 1 champ Whippany Park.
B DIVISION (7:35 P.M.)
This should be a hot one as two of the state’s best, eniors Sarah Disanza of High Point and Claudia DiSomma of Sparta, will lock horns in a Sussex County showdown.
Last year, Disanza had DiSomma’s number, edging her several times in big races, including at the Randolph meet and the Meet of Champions, each time by one place and one step.
Disanza finished her junior year in dramatic style, placing second at the Nike NE Regional to qualify for nationals.
She has doubled her mileage this summer and said she’s coming into this season in the best shape of her career.
Last year, Disanza ran 19:03 and DiSomma 19:04 at this meet. Both said they want to go under that. Judging by how much work they’ve put in, it wouldn’t be surprising if they each sliced 30 seconds or more off those times.
In the team competition, Morris Hills, Pope John, Jackson Liberty, and Pope John are among the teams that will line up.
A DIVISION (9 P.M.)
There’s lots of firepower in this as defending champion Ridge, Randolph, Mount Olive, Hunterdon Central, Bridgewater-Raritan, Jackson and North Rockland of New York will collide.
The individual favorite is Marisa Ruskan of Bridgewater, a Nike National finalist last year who was second in this race last year and fourth at the Meet of Champs last November in 18:22. Also keep an eye on rising stars Carole Harsch of Randolph, Olivia Viparina of Roxbury and Liz Newman of Ridge, the top three freshman at the Meet of Champs last year. Harsch was 26th in 19:22. Viparina was 35th in 19:34, and Newman 38th in 19:35. Senior Kaitlyn Bedard of Hunterdon Central should also be in the lead pack.