“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
- Muhammad Ali
Just as Ali said…well, almost…the races were won far away from witnesses, out there on the trails and roads and fields, long before we went to the starting line.
Some people out there may actually think that Cherokee makes it look easy. We’ve had a good amount of success and it may occur to some that, perhaps, there is a secret that we have discovered…and if they could only know that secret….
Actually, there is a secret. It is called “hard work”. …Ok, it’s really not that much of a secret. It’s just that some people accept it easier than others. We have been fortunate, over the years, to have many individuals who fully accept the importance of hard work. It has become a tradition at Cherokee to do all that is necessary to be successful. It is not easy…despite how it may look to an outsider. It requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice, and you, the members of Cherokee Cross Country 2005, have made that sacrifice. You dedicated yourselves to your summer training. You worked hard all season long. You raced with courage and spirit. You earned your success!
This season, the success was even sweeter, as it wasn’t totally expected. We were in a rebuilding year after graduating six of our top eight runners, and we found ourselves counting on a number of individuals with little varsity experience. We did not know how they would respond.
As it turned out, we need not have been concerned. Here’s what happened…
On Sunday, June 19th,
the summer training for the 2005 season officially began. Yersak, McLaughlin,
Maneval, Dolan, McFadden and Candy had graduated. Only three runners returned who had run under
During the week of August 16th to the 21st, Cherokee runners attended the RunningWorks Cross Country Camp in the Poconos. Six days devoted to becoming a better runner…and, for some, a better GaGa player!
On August 23rd, we met at for the first official day of practice. Thanks to the fine leadership of our seniors, the team came in with a strong base established over 10 weeks of good, progressive summer training.
On September 3rd,
the Courier Post issued its season preview article. Cherokee began the season ranked 3rd
On Saturday, September 10th,
we headed up to
On Tuesday, September 13th,
we opened our season with an easy win over
On the morning of Saturday, September 17th, the 10th annual Cherokee Challenge got underway. With 1500 competitors from 75 different schools, the Challenge is the 2nd largest meet in the state behind the Shore Coaches Invitational. The Cherokee runners fared well against the strong competition, led by sophomore champion, Alex Yersak. Greg Bredeck, Vinny Marziano, Will Andes, and Rich Nelson medaled in the senior race. Mike Medvec and Colin Cunningham won awards in the junior race. Kevin Schickling, along with Yersak, medaled in the sophomore competition. And, Marc Saccomanno and Rob Roselli picked up hardware in the freshman race. The meet proved costly, however, as team leader, Marziano, suffered a calf injury that would continue to plague him for the rest of the season; and senior, Mike Brown, newly returned from a bout with mono, sustained a season-ending injury.
On Wednesday, September 21st,
the team’s dual meet record improved to 2 wins and 0 losses with an 18-46
On Saturday, September 21st,
we headed back to GCC for the 2nd Annual South Jersey Shoot-out,
consisting of 3 varsity races – the
The team improved to 4 and 0
on Tuesday, September 27th with wins over Cherry Hill East
and, district rival,
The team traveled to
On Monday, October 3rd,
On the 6th of October, three freshmen and three sophomores competed in the Burlington County Frosh/Soph Meet at the Rancocas Valley Sports Complex. While all six ran well, Liam Eells got the nod for Runner of the Meet with his first sub-20 5k.
Strong winds and rain greeted
the team on Saturday, October 8th as we arrived for the South
Jersey Open at
On Tuesday, October 11th,
we faced the first serious threat to our dual meet win streak in several years
when we lined up against
The following Saturday, October 15th, while the varsity team traveled to Holmdel for a workout in preparation for the state meet, the rest of the team competed in the South Jersey Hall of Fame Class Meet. Marc Saccomanno, Rob Roselli and Sean Hartnett ran strong races to place 3rd, 5th and 8th in the freshman race while Ryan Lutz led the sophomore contingent with his 4th place finish. All four are new runners with a lot of potential for the future.
Having not lost to a
The South Jersey Frosh/Soph Meet was next for the team on Monday, October 24th at GCC. Although this was their 3rd race in 9 days, the guys still gave it their best effort. Liam Eells PRed at and newcomer, Geoff Schellack, ran tough to set a course PR and earn Runner of the Meet honors.
On Friday, October 28th,
the varsity put together perhaps their best team effort of the year to dominate
the Olympic Conference Meet with 27 points.
Runner of the Meet, Greg Bredeck, led a
On Monday, October 31st,
we moved into the 2nd position in the Courier Post Poll, behind
On Wednesday, November 2nd,
the team traveled to
On Saturday, November 5th,
we lined up for the first round of the state championships – the South Jersey
Group 4 Sectionals. It was an
unseasonably warm day – sunny and 74 – a factor that would prove unfortunate
for our squad. High expectations led to
fast starts and tense racing. Although
we got our first ever 1-2 finish in the Sectionals (Alex Yersak and Greg Bredeck), the rest of our runners
succumbed to the heat and fast pace, fading over the last mile. The result was a disappointing 2nd
place finish behind
The weather was cooler on
Saturday, November 12th, for the State Group 4 Championships
…and so was our team. We raced better
than the week before with outstanding performances coming from Rich Nelson and Kevin Schickling (Holmdel PRs of 21 and 41 seconds respectively!). Despite the improvement, we missed the final
automatic qualifying spot for the Meet of Champions by nine points with our 4th
place finish. Fortunately, we qualified
as a wildcard with
With one race to go, we still
had a couple of goals to achieve when we arrived back at Holmdel for the Meet
of Champions on Saturday, November 19th. We needed to beat
On Sunday, November 20th, Greg Bredeck was selected to the All-South Jersey Team for the 3rd time…a feat accomplished over the years by only a handful of area runners. Along with Greg, sophomore, Alex Yersak, was selected to the team, giving him the opportunity to eventually join Greg as a three time All-South Jersey runner. Both Greg and Alex were also selected to the First Team All-County, while Rich Nelson and Will Andes made the 2nd Team.
On Wednesday, November 23rd,
the official notification came in the Courier Post as the Cherokee squad was
honored with a full page spread for, once again, ending the season as the number
one team in
Thanks parents…for being such great fans. The support and encouragement you give to your sons really helps!
Thanks Mr. Schramm and Mr. Benedetto. Not many schools can boast an A.D. and an Assistant A.D. who are both former track coaches. It helps to know that the efforts of the cross country team are appreciated by the administration.
As always, thank you Mr. Smyth. You not only run the website and take the photos but…what would we do without the pretzels?!!
Thanks to the members of the Booster Club who put this dinner together, and to those who helped out at the Cherokee Challenge.
To this year’s seniors:
Thanks for making this such a great season! The leadership you provided was the key ingredient to our success. No doubt, your athletic contributions were significant. However, it was your example to the rest of the team that will have a lasting effect on our program. You showed us what it means to be dedicated, determined and loyal. The team was important to you…more so than your own accomplishments. For that, we thank you. Please know that, whatever we accomplish in the coming years, you are, and will always be, a part of it.
To those who are returning:
Just as it was last year, we do not have the best returning team on paper. And…just as it was this season, we expect to be the best team on the course. Plan on it! …Figure out your role in it…Make it happen!
“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”
- Harvey Mackay -
Thanks to all of you – seniors and underclassmen – for an outstanding season! We are proud to be your coaches.