The North Jersey Report- Week 3
By: Matthew Murphy
Indian Hills Repeats; Ramsey, Don Bosco and Ridgewood Fare Well at Invitationals
With all eyes and ears focused on Garret Mountain where Kenyan wonder Edward Cheserek made history, it was easy to forget all the North Jersey teams that were active and once again successful at other major invitationals this weekend. Plenty of athletes performed well in Cheserek’s shadow at the the Passaic Coaches meet, but it was at the 2nd annual Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational that North Jersey teams saw the most success…and animals.
Combining racing with a day of fun, several teams traveled to Great Adventure theme park in Jackson to participate in the large invitational, which allows runners to compete through the Wild Safari right alongside the animals and then spend an afternoon on the rollercoasters. For the second straight year, the Indian Hills boys squad made the most of their adventure, defending their championship and winning the boys B race with a bit of an upset over nearby Colt’s Neck. The Braves have looked quite formidable in the early part of the season, considering they lost several top runners from last year’s team and have more of a balanced pack this season. On a muddy but extremely flat 3.1 mile course, senior Scott Savage led the way by running 16:30 for a seventh place finish. He was followed by teammates Heetae An, Bobby Corcoran and Adam Frank, who took 13th, 14th and 16th place respectively. Chris Evans rounded out the scoring with his 23rd place effort. In the boys C race, Ramsey suffered its second straight defeat to a top ten ranked New York state team in as many weeks, but looked sharp behind gutty performances by seniors Chris Eltringham and Erik Buser who finished second and third. The Rams lost by a 77-91 score to Somers of New York, but it was Eltringham who was narrowly beaten out for the individual title by Harrison Brakewood of Voorhees. Running just off the lead pack for much of the race, the Ramsey duo turned on the jets in the last mile, picking off several runners until Eltringham fought to take down Brakewood in the finishing stretch but simply ran out of room. Brakewood, who has developed a knack for winning nail-biters this season, clocked a 15:54 along with Eltringham, with Buser a few strides back in 15:58. Junior Dan Dugan finished 21st for the Rams, and Patrick Watters and Nik Haas crossed the line back to back in 32nd and 33rd.
Also in the B race, Ben Malone of Pascack Valley continued his early season winning streak and took home gold, crossing the line in 15:53. Although his time was 9 seconds off the fastest time of the day, Malone may have been running at less than 100% after apparently coming down with a throat infection earlier in the week. He still had plenty in the tank to hold off a very good runner-up in Hightstown’s Luke Dermody, who finished second in 15:58. Mike Secreti of Paramus was a solid 10th place in the race.
While the Safari action was thrilling, the area’s top two teams, Don Bosco and Ridgewood, headed north for the prestigious Bowdoin XC Classic in Wappinger Falls, NY. Running against some of the toughest competition in the Northeast region, both squads fared very well with Don Bosco finishing 2nd and Ridgewood 5th. The Ironmen were outdone by CBA, which dismantled the field and validated its number one national ranking with a very impressive 16:30 team average and a 46 point win over Bosco. Christian Costello and Ryan Tucker both cracked the top 10 in leading their team, with Costello crossing in 7th and Tucker 9th. They were followed by Kyle Levermore, Nick Lapinski, and Nick Mendolia who finished 16th, 20th and 23rd respectively as Don Bosco had a compact 1-5 spread of 43 seconds and averaged 16:53 as a team. Ridgewood upheld its number 5 state ranking as it finished behind Massachusetts power Pembroke, and just 11 points off of NJ #3 Westfield. Frontrunner Levi Jennings had a tough day taking 17th, but his teammates picked him up by packing three runners in four seconds, as Nick Salamone, Will Ades and Travis Spicer finished 26th, 28th and 29th. Storm Dublier was 43rd to complete a 17:22 average. In other empire state action, Ramapo’s Deanna DiLandro finished a fine 5th place at the Warwick Valley XC Wave Mania behind the blistering pace of New York phenom Mary Cain.