2011 Shore Coaches Invitational: North Jersey Recap
Ridgewood Boys, Northern Highlands Girls Take Home Top Honors
On a day where New Jersey Cross-Country fans witnessed history made by the nation’s best runner and best team in the same race, it was easy to let some of the meet’s other impressive performances slip under the radar. However, many of North Jersey’s top teams were out on the course making history of their own Saturday, this time at the Shore Coaches Invitational set at Holmdel Park, site of the State Championship meets in November. Before Edward Cheserek continued his record-breaking blitz, this time taking down Joe Rosa’s prestigious course record by running 14:53, and before CBA swept the Championship Race field with an unimaginable team effort, the Ridgewood boys team went out and romped the boys B race with one of the more dominant performances by a North Jersey team at the SCI in recent memory. After Cheserek and CBA had left the crowd stunned, the Northern Highlands girls earned their victory in thrilling fashion, needing a 6th-runner tiebreaker to squeeze by runner-up Princeton. Many other local teams and individuals performed well on a day hampered by the SATs, yet highlighted by greatness.
In a race that saw a terrific individual battle up front, the Ridgewood boys were busy putting together their best effort of the season, going out somewhat conservatively, then storming home en route to an enormous 71-138 win over Northport of New York. Stealing the show this time for the Maroons were juniors Will Ades and Nick Salamone. With huge Holmdel personal-bests, the duo stepped up their game and finished 7th and 9th respectively as Ridgewood's usual number one, Levi Jennings faded to 12th. Ridgewood’s next group ran effectively as a pack, and the Maroons wrapped up their title when Travis Spicer finished 20th, Storm Dublier 23rd and Mark French 24th. Completing a very solid team average of 16:56, Ridgewood put the rest of group 4 on notice as they were only 8 seconds off of NJ #2 West Windsor-Plainsboro South’s average of 16:48 in the Championship race.
By contrast to Ridgewood’s domination, the Northern Highlands girls fought and scratched their way to an exhilarating win in the C race. Tied after five runners with Princeton at 90 points apiece, the Highlanders were awarded their gold medal on a tiebreaker when senior Alex Abitante finished as the sixth runner, 56 seconds and 18 places ahead of Princeton’s 6th Mary Sutton. Northern Highlands was led by a very solid race from Ariana North, who finished 3rd in 19:39 behind Princeton’s number one Elyssa Gensib and race winner Claudia DiSomma from Sparta. Princeton’s 2nd runner finished a strong 6th place, but the Mercer County school then had a large 1:30 gap to their 3rd girl, in which the Highlanders packed North’s sister Karina in 12th, Abitante’s twin sister Kristen in 22nd and sophomore Sophia Licata in 26th. Bergen County had very strong presence in the race, as Deanna DiLandro of Ramapo finished 8th and Ashley Strysko of Holy Angels was right behind her in 9th. Strysko’s team finished 6th in the race, just two points ahead of Old Tappan in 8th.
While no other North Jersey teams or individuals earned victories on the damp Holmdel course, the Indian Hills and Hackensack boys’ teams looked like contenders in their respective groups, both taking 2nd place in close races. After a slow and uneventful morning for Bergen County, Indian Hills got things started in the Varsity C race, battling step for step with Princeton until suffering a narrow 11 point defeat. Princeton ran well in the final mile behind 7th place finisher Connor Donahue to seal the deal, but Indian Hills was pleased with its performance considering several runners ran to Holmdel personal-bests, and others had never run the course before. Seniors Scott Savage and Adam Frank led the way, finishing just three seconds apart in 13th and 17th respectively. Hee Tae An was 22nd, and normal number 5 Chris Evans had a big race crossing right behind An in 23rd. Sophomore Bobby Corcoran was 30th to round out the scoring. Old Tappan finished a somewhat surprising 3rd place, behind a strong effort up front by 8th place finisher William Maltin and 16th place finisher Alex Weiner. Demarest was 5th as a team, while Mike Secreti of Paramus continued his fine season by taking 5th place.
Less than an hour later, Hackensack produced a noteworthy effort in the boys A race, grabbing a silver medal just 12 points behind a strong pack-running Hillsborough team. The Comets were led by senior John Pujols, who turned in one of the best races of his career in finishing second, albeit a distant one to race winner Tim Ball of Piscataway. It was a Holmdel best for Pujols, who then watched teammates Carlos Coranado, Cosmo Nardozza and Angel Uzhca all finish in the top 25. The Ridgewood girls also performed well in the Varsity B race, taking second by a 60-75 score to Ridge, though the outcome could have been different had freshman star Catherine Pagano not been battling leg issues. Senior Caroline Davidson and sophomore Emily Fishbein finished back to back in 8th and 9th.