Here we go!!
The NJ XC season will start to really heat up on Saturday when many of New Jersey's top-ranked teams crank up their engines and let it rip for the first time this season at a pair of out of state meets.
Christian Brothers Academy, ranked NJ No. 1 and U.S. No. 8, will be sending their top runners to the line when the Colts defend their title at the Bowdoin Park Invitational on the banks of the Hudson River in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., the site of the Nike Northeast Regional in November.
CBA, the defending Meet of Champions and NE Regional winner, ran their top guys in a controlled dual meet two weeks. CBA is running in the Division 2 race at 11:30 a.m.
On the girls side at Bowdoin, No. 2 Haddonfield and No. 7 Pingry will square off in the Division 1 race at 10 a.m. as as both teams unleash their packs for the first time. No. 12 Mainland is one of the top teams in the girls Division 2 race at 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, the NJ No. 1 Union Catholic girls and NJ No. 2/US No. 9 Union Catholic boys will be racing at the Ocean State Invitational at Goddard Park in Warwick, Rhode Island. It's the first race for UC's top boys while the UC girls, unranked nationally, have an opportunity to make a big statement when they clash with defending national champion and U.S No. 7 Saratoga Springs of New York.
Interview with Paige Sheppard after winning Trials of Miles opening weekend.
Let's look a little deeper at some of these races.
CBA coach Sean McCafferty said his pack is fit and ready to rock.
"The first bigger meet of the season is always a lot of fun,'' said McCafferty. "The boys think about this one for a long time as they run in the summer. We've delayed our training a bit, but they are fit. Our race at Holmdel last week was propitious and got the boys excited for this weekend. On Saturday, we hope to build on that start. We will play off the athletes in our race and work together as best we can. We are pumped to see what they can do as a group.''
Westfield's coach Chris Tafelski, who will send Avery Keith, Ryan Daly, Jimmy Gildea, Graham Korins, Eamon Mason, Tage Mehta, and Kaleb Stoeckmann to the starting line, said this will be a good test for his crew.
"It's our opener, the kids are excited to get back out there,'' said Tafelski. "The field in our race is really strong, so we're looking forward to seeing how we stack up. We'll be successful if we can work well together in the early and middle stages of the race.
On the girls side, Haddonfield will run in the Division 1 race at 10 a.m. Haddonfield coach Jason Russo girls said he's not sure yet who will toe the line for his team because of some illness and the potential for bad weather. But Russo is jacked up to see what his talented pack can do.
"We are super excited to get going,'' said Russo. "It's our first team effort so we're going to control them a bit, but very excited to see what some new faces do. I think we can be pretty competitive, just really trying to focus on team aspect.''
UC, the defending Meet of Champions winner, opened a lot of eyes in its season opener two weeks ago when the Vikings flexed its remarkable firepower with a by throwing down a 1-3-4-5-6 finish and dropping a red hot 18:27 average to runaway with the victory at the first-ever Trials of Miles in Sayreville.
On the boys side, this will be the first race of the season for UC's top seven of Jimmy Wischusen, Alex Saldana, Evan Weber, Sean Wilson, Michael Devine, Alessandro Alvarez-Tullo, and Aidan Cichocki, who will race in the Championship race at 12:15. p.m.
Wischusen, one of the top runners in the country, should be up in the lead pack the whole way and he certainly has the talent to challenge for the win.
Get ur NJ XC on!!!!!!!