NJ Runners Boys XC All State Selections




Selection Criteria:

Our voting panel was asked to make their selections based on three criteria:   record in head-to-head competition, honors won and marks and sequence of marks.  Head-to-head means exactly that: competition in the same race, not merely running in the same meet in different races.  For honors won, sectional, group, MOC, regional and national titles hold the most weight but invitationals such as Manhattan and Shore Coaches are heavily weighted also.  Marks on frequently run, well-established courses have the most meaning with Holmdel clearly being the most important.  With all that said, we expected that the voters' judgment would come into play and would count heavily.



The 2011 XC season will see a huge changing of the guard as this year's first and second all-state teams are senior-dominated with only one sophomore and one junior among the 14 athletes selected.  Large schools dominated as group 4 had 6 selections, group 3 had 3 and non-public A 2 (3 if St Benedict's is counted among them).  Groups 2 and 1 had one athlete each.  3 of the athletes chosen are from non-public schools.


1st Team:


Jeramy Elkaim (Senior - Livingston) - Elkaim had an auspicious debut to his season when he ran himself into the all-time top 10 at Garret Mountain, winning the Group 4 race, good for 7th all-time on the well-used course.   The follow up came 10 days later with a 51 second triumph in the American division race of the Super Essex Conference at Branch Brook Park.  He suffered a 13 second defeat at the hands of Edward Cheserek at the Essex County meet but still ran under Dave Oster's course record from 2009.  In the Sectionals on 11/6 he cruised at 15:44 bettering by 5 seconds the 15:49 he had run at Passaic Coaches, solidifying his 7th spot on the all-time course list.  He faced a very tough field in the group 4 meet at Holmdel with Matthew McDonald, Tim, Ball, Anthony Dentino, and a host of others and came away with a 2 second victory over McDonald with a 15:40 mark that moved him into the top 10 all-time on the course, some very fast company.  The Meet of Champions was one of the very few races where Jeramy did not go in the favorite and he knew it would take a superlative effort to beat Jim Rosa, Morgan Pearson, Patrick Rono and company.  He ended up 3rd in excellent 15:29 thrusting himself into 5th on the all-time list behind a cast of great runners.  In the NXN Regional, he wisely ran only to qualify and finished third earning the seat on the plane to Portland.  That seat ended up being quite the adventure as he was delayed by equipment problems, missed connections and full flights.  At the end of the ordeal he made it to Portland came in 73rd.  Jeramy will do his running for Oregon starting next fall.




Mike Mazzacaro (Senior - CBA) - Here's a athlete who ran 4:09.53/9:02.46 for 1600/3200 meters last spring and came into the XC season with a 15:41 PR at Holmdel and somehow was under-rated or overlooked for a large part of the season.  The lead runner on CBA's record setting team, Mazz won his season opener, the Bowdoin Classic on 9/25 with CBA taking the team title, his 16:03.4 an all-time top 10 mark at that venue.  He was then 3rd in the championship race at Shore Coaches as CBA won again over a very strong field and took third at Manhattan as CBA was a rare 2nd. Mike ran with teammates almost the entire race at the Monmouth County meet, before breaking away late and taking third with CBA won that one as well as the Shore Conference race where there was no holding back as he won by 10 seconds.  The Non-Public A race promised to be a good one and Mazzacaro won that one over Morgan Pearson by 5 seconds, as CBA averaged 16:18 a top 10 mark on the all-time list.  At the Meet of Champions where it seemed everyone but Mike was being picked to finish high, Mazzacaro was 2nd, 5 seconds behim Jim Rosa becoming the 5th fastest ever at the state meet course.   In was in that race of course that CBA smashed the all-time team average record with a spectacular 16:05.3.Before the NXN Regional, Coach Heath declared that Mike would not be among the leaders early on, as they would run conservatively early in order to ensure that the team was successful in its bid to make the Nationals.  Finishing 7th there, Mazz led the Colts to a win and a spot in Nationals in Portland, where they finished 5th and Mike was a superb 15th in the sloppy conditions.  Speaking after the race, Mazz said that he felt he could have done even better if he got out harder since it was difficult to attack sue to the slippery condition of the course.  Mike has committed to studying and running for Princeton for the next four years.



Matt McDonald (Senior - North Hunterdon) - Another athlete who received a minimum of attention during the course of the season, Matt ran 9 (invitational/championship) races leading up to the Meet of Champions and lost only to Jeramy Elkaim twice.  He won the opener, the Petty Fun Run, then was 2nd to Elkaim in the Shore Coaches A race with a 15:52 PR on the Holmdel course.  At the H-W-S Championships he had a 20 second win followed by a 15 second gap at the Skylands Conference race.  The Sectionals produced a thrilling race with Tim Ball of Piscataway as the two hit the track together and Matt bested Ball by less than a second.  In the Group race Matt was 2nd to Elkaim again in yet another Holmdel PR of 15:42.  Important to at least all-time stat watchers, that mark put Matt on the all-time North Hunterdon team along with names like Andy Martin, Brad Hudson, Bill Babcock and Brendan Heffernan.  Nice company but the best was yet to come as McDonald ran the race of his life to finish 4th at the Meet of Champions, putting him at the top of the North Hunterdon all-time list and 9th all-time on the Holmdel course list.  He was the last qualifier at the Footlocker Northeast race and in San Diego led the Jersey contigent with a 23rd place finish.









Morgan Pearson (Senior - Delbarton) - Last year Morgan ran in the shadow of teammate Pat Schellberg.  This year, with Schellberg off to the University of North Carolina, the Duke-bound Pearson came into his own.  Already an NXN individual qualifier in 2009, Pearson's first big race was in October at Shore Coaches where he won the D race in 16:15.  The next week he was 3rd in the D race in 13:00.34 for 4K at Manhattan Invitational on a day where sub-13:00 minute times were hard to come by due to a change in the course resulting from on-going construction.  Delbarton journeyed to the Brown Invitational where Morgan won the Division 1 race by 40 seconds and his team won the title. Next up, a 20 second victory at the Morris County Championships and then at CTC a second to Edward Cheserek.  At the Group meet he had a 1 second PR over the 15:47 mark from the 2009 MOC, again 5 seconds behind winner Mike Mazzacaro.  The Meet of Champs brought yet another Holmdel PR, a 15:39 mark good for 5th place in one of the deepest races ever at that venue.  Eschewing NXN this year, he was nosed out for the win at Footlocker Northeast by 0.8 seconds and went on to finish 27th art Footlocker Nationals.





Edward Cheserek (Sophomore - St Benedicts) - To say Cheserek's reputation proceeded him is a gross understatement.  Stories about Holmdel workouts and previous race results in his native Kenya had fans eagerly anticipating his debut, only to learn that Edward had injured himself and wouldn't open his season until October.  That first race came in the Independent Schools National Championship which he won despite clearly not being totally fit.  The following week at Manhattan he went head-to-head with Jim Rosa finishing 2nd by 6 seconds but ahead of a number of big names.  The Brown Invitational was really his coming out party as he won the championship race in 15:00.80, capturing national attention. He then scored a big win and a course record at the Essex County meet where he broke the course record that had stood for 22 years by 15 seconds.  Before the NXN Regionals he won the NJISAA Prep Championships and then broke the course record at Warinanco Park which had stood .  Clearly the cold was not to his liking at Bowdoin Park but he finished 2nd to Jim Rosa's course record and punched his ticket to Portland where he finished only 2 seconds behind winner Lukas Verzbicas in the cold and the mud.







Patrick Rono (Senior - Lyndhurst) - Opening with wins at the Season Opener at Darlington Park (15:50 in the C race) and Shore Coaches (by 17 seconds in 16:10 in the E race), Patrick asserted himself as the dominant runner in Bergen County this XC season.  He next went on to post the fastest time of the day at the NJIC meet then at the Bergen County Group meet recorded the second fastest time ever run at Darlington Park (15:14) behind on Bob Keino's 15:05 from 1993.  He backed that up with a 15:17 winner at the Bergen County Meet of Champions, followed by a 51 second win at the North 2, Group 1 Sectionals at Warinanco Park. The Group 1 meet resulted in another triumph by 21 seconds and a nice setup for the Meet of Champions the following week.  That race was a 15:46, 9 second PR that was good for 7th place.  He was the second fastest New Jersey qualifier at Footlocker Northeast, finishing in 7th place with a time of 15:47 only 5 seconds out of 1st place.  At the Footlocker Nationals he was the second Jersey finisher, placing 24th.










Jim Rosa (Senior - West Windsor-Plainsboro North) - The Stanford-bound James was unbeaten until the very last race of the year, NXN in Portland.  He won the championship race at Shore Coaches, Manhattan, the Mercer County meet, sectionals, the Group 3 State Meet, the Meet of Champions and the NXN Regional at Bowdoin Park.  The NXN Regional race produced a course record of 15:36, 5 seconds faster than the previous mark set in 2001.  Perhaps as great an accomplishment as that string of wins and certainly one not appreciated by most, Jim helped to hold his team together in the face of the loss of his twin Joe to injury for the season.  The team showed well in almost every meet it ran this year and a part of the credit goes to James for his senior leadership.  At the end of the season, Jim's scorecard was 7 wins out of 8 races (the one loss came at NXN in Portland) including two wins over Edward Cheserek the eventual 2nd placer at NXN and times of 15:15, 15:30 and 15:46 at Holmdel.  Quite a season for a guy who once thought he wasn't a very good XC runner.










2nd Team:


Tim Ball (Junior - Piscataway) 

Anthony Dentino (Senior - Washington)

Mike O'Dowd (Senior - Colts Neck)

Miles Schoedler (Senior - Ocean City)

Paul Szulewski (Senior  - Williamstown)

Collin Frost (Senior - Randolph)

Ben Potts (Senior - Haddonfield)




Honorable Mention:


Kevin Byrne (Senior - Red Bank Catholic)

Cullen Davis (Senior - North Brunswick)

CJ DeFabio (Senior - Watchung Hills)

Connor Herr (Junior - Shawnee)

George Kelly (Junior - CBA)

Andrew Kirna (Senior - Westfield)

Jack Leahy (Junior - Westfield)

Stephen Lewandowski (Junior - Mountain Lakes)

Ryan Mahalsky (Senior - Hillsborough)

Ben Malone (Sophomore - Pascack Valley)

Dan Mykityshyn (Senior - CBA)

Matt Nelson (Sophomore - Barnegat Twp)

Matt Nussbaum (Senior - Haddonfield)

Brian O'Toole (Senior - Robbinsville)

Pat Rynkowski (Senior - Ridgewood)

Blake Udland (Junior - Millburn)

Nick Ward (Senior - Indian Hills)



Boys Coach of the Year:  Tom Heath (CBA) 

Sweet 16 (Meet of Champions titles) for Coach Heath and it must have been sweet after not having garnered the top spot since 2005.  And this one was done with emphasis, the team averaging 16:05.8 a runner to smash the 2008 West Windsor Plainsboro North team's average of 16:14.2 by 8.5 seconds per runner.  In addition to MOC, CBA scored wins at the Bowdoin Park Classic, the Shore Coaches championship race, the Monmouth County Championships, Shore Conference, the state Non-Public A group meet and the NXN Regional race.  The two non-winners were a 2nd place finish to Shaker at the Manhattan Invitational and a 5th place finish in the Nike Cross National Championships.  In CBA country, XC is next to godliness and the proof is on their website as I write this: