Ridge coach Tim Mooney was the first victim -- excuse me, subject -- of NJ MileSplit's showcase of coaches choosing their favorite memories from high school track and cross-country.
We're asking coaches to provide the three most memorable moments -- team or individual -- on the cross-country course or track while they've been a coach. The only rule is that a coach cannot name an achievement -- whether it be a title won, a record broken, etc. -- by one of his or her own student-athletes.
The Mooney feature was so wildly successful -- NJ MileSplit editor Robert Kellert has self-quarantined himself to answer the thousands of glowing emails -- that we thought we'd shoot straight ahead to a Hall of Famer as our next guest, the honorable Tim McLoone of Rumson-Fair Haven.
As most know, Tim is the figurehead for Holiday Express, a non-profit organization in its 28th year which utilizes up to 2,500 volunteers annually and, quoting the website, is "dedicated to bringing music, gifts and holiday cheer to those less fortunate." Tim is also a restaurateur, night club owner, and the voice of the Seton Hall men's basketball team at the Prudential Center.
And most importantly for our purposes, for the last 14 years he's been the head coach for the Rumson boys and girls cross-country teams. Since 2008 he's been coaching all three seasons, cross-country and indoor and outdoor track. This spring would have been his first as head coach of the girls outdoor track team.
Last October, Tim was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Here's what Tim had to say about his most memorable moments, in chronological order:
Marty Liquori wins the mile at the 1965 Essex County Championships
McLoone witnessed one of the finest milers to ever come out of New Jersey in Marty Liquori, but he bent the rules of our game a bit. McLoone witnessed Liquori first hand all right -- he raced him!
Liquori, of course, gained national notoriety for himself and Essex Catholic in 1967. He became just the third American high school boy to break the four-minute mile when he ran 3:59.8.
"I know you're looking for our observations as coaches, but I feel like we don't talk about Marty Liquori enough," McLoone said. "These days we get excited about our runners going 4:07 or 4:08. In 1967 Marty ran 3:59 for the full mile. That's still incredible to me."
In the spring of 1965, McLoone was a senior at Seton Hall Prep under the tutelage of coach Bill Persichetty (the former world record holder from Fordham in the 4x800 and former national record holder in the indoor 600), and competing in the Essex County Championships at Montclair.
"I'd never been beaten by anyone younger than me my senior year that spring, and I was winning the mile at the Essex County meet," McLoone said. "I think I had a 10-yard lead with 200 to go, and this kid comes from behind and beats me by about 180. It was a sophomore who beat me, and I found out it was Marty Liquori. Unbelievable."
Renaldo Nehemiah wins the 1977 Union County 110-meter hurdles
Since McLoone is in the habit of breaking our rules about using only coaching observations, he offered one more, but this time as a friend of former Westfield coach Jack Martin.
Following his track career at Harvard, McLoone became roommates with Martin (who ran for Seton Hall) and Bob Keough (who was an All-American at Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Md.)
"Because Jack was coaching Westfield I went to the Union County meet and I saw the best hurdler I ever saw," McLoone said. "Skeets Nehemiah (a senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood) was running the hurdles so fast it looked like he was running without hurdles. He devastated the whole field. I had not seen anything like that, and I've never seen anything like it since."
McLoone noted that the 1977 hurdles race wasn't even the most incredible thing he had seen Nehemiah do. Two years later while running for Maryland at the Penn Relays, Nehemiah was handed the baton with a considerable gap between him and Villanova anchor Tim Dale in the meet-concluding 4x400 relay.
"He rarely ran the 400, and when he got the baton you could hear 38,000 people go aawwww because they wanted to see a race and Skeets was a good 30-40 yards behind," McLoone said. "But you could see the guy from Villanova hear the crowd and his shoulders went right up, and you could almost see him thinking, oh, I have no chance. Skeets ran a 44.3 which was the fastest split to that time and won the race for Maryland."
Nehemiah also anchored the Terrapins' shuttle hurdles and 4x200 and was named MVP of the meet. Nehemiah also never ran another 400.
Sydney McLaughlin -- Can't-Miss Track
"When you see a rock star, you know you're in the presence of greatness," McLoone said. "I don't have a particular story about Sydney -- it's hard for me to pin down a race because it's more about the craziness of her excellence."
McLoone does remember fondly McLaughlin's final meet in New Jersey when the Union Catholic superstar won her fourth straight 400 hurdles title (56.97) and the open 400 (51.91) at the 2017 outdoor Meet of Champions.
"She may have been the most watched athlete that day," McLoone said. "For me it was always about the crowd and how they reacted to her. What I love about Sydney is that other girls adored her, they just wanted to be Sydney McLaughlin. I still remember that high-pitched female scream when they saw her."