“There are no guarantees that you are going to win but I think I can say with confidence that every one of our kids that pursues excellence to its fullest comes away – whether they win or lose – feeling that they gave everything thy had and they’re proud of that.”
- Bill Aris, Coach at Fayetteville Manlius High School where his girls’ team just won the National Championship for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
Coach Aris got that right. There are no guarantees.
We came out of last cross country season filled with confidence and excited at the prospects of what this team might accomplish this year. We dreamed of winning it all. We set lofty goals – the State Group IV Championship; the Meet of Champions; qualifying for Nationals. In doing so, perhaps we became too focused on the goal and not enough on the process.
There are no guarantees.
We did not achieve all of our goals. By reaching for them, however, we accomplished a lot.
When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either.
- Leo Burnett
While we may have come a bit short of our ultimate goals this season, we definitely did not come up with a handful of mud. The varsity squad ended the year as the Number 1 team in South Jersey, for the first time since 2005 (6th time overall), and the 7th ranked team in the state. We were American Division Champions for the first time since 2011 (20th time overall), Burlington County Champions (3rd in a row and 18th overall), Olympic Conference Champions (2nd in a row and 13th overall), South Jersey Group IV Champions (first time since 2011 and 8th overall) and we placed 2nd in the Group IV State Meet, our highest finish since 2008. No mud there!
Not to be outdone, the “JV” and freshmen teams were equally strong! Our complete domination of the class race at the Burlington County Championships (first 10 finishers and 12 of the top 14) sent a clear signal to the rest of the county that Cherokee is planning on staying on top for years to come. The news isn’t much better for the teams in the Olympic Conference where our “JV” team took 8 of the top 12 places, including the top 4. Add to that, a freshman squad that won every race they entered, and you have the makings of a dynasty. The future is bright!
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the leadership of this year’s seniors. The seeds of success were sewn in the fall of 2013 when our two senior captains, Jack Shea and Nick Falk, began their freshman season. They were talented enough to move straight into the varsity seven. More impressive, however, was the great attitude they brought to the program. Over the years, that attitude has permeated the team and it is the single biggest reason for the successful position we find ourselves in today. Thank you, Nick and Jack, for turning the program around! Pat Mahoney is the only other 4 year athlete in this senior class and he has been a strong, steady, quiet influence since joining the squad in 2013. Thank you, Pat, for your dedication to the program! In the fall of 2014, we added 4 new team members to the class: Brendan Falzone, Cam Wilburn, Chris Monteleone and Mike Algarra. Brendan transferred from soccer and immediately moved into the varsity where he has been a contributor ever since! Cam missed most of his first season due to injury but overcame that to have an excellent junior and senior year! Chris has also battled injury but has stayed focused, worked hard and done all the small things necessary to keep healthy and running! After running track as a freshman, Mike added cross country as a sophomore and has shown steady improvement each year! In 2015, we added our final member of this year’s class, Ben Rosenberg. Although he joined the program late, Ben has proven himself to be a dedicated, hardworking teammate! This outstanding group of young men has added much to the Cherokee Cross Country Program and they will be missed. Gentlemen, please accept our best wishes as you move on to college and beyond. Know that whatever we accomplish in the coming years, you are, and will always be, a part of it . . .
For those of you returning . . . Start thinking now about what you want to accomplish next year and what it will require from you.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
- Yogi Berra, Baseball Hall-of-Famer
Yogi was right. You gotta have goals. They give you direction. Just don’t get so focused on the end result that you lose sight of the process.
At Fayetteville Manlius, Coach Aris says the process is the goal. His athletes take special pride in trying to perfect what they do each day. Not in a paranoid, over-meticulous way . . . but with calm, common sense objectivity. In doing so, they relieve the stress of competition (“Oh my God, I gotta win this race or else!”). Instead, they simply focus on the process. After all, that is the beauty of this sport. The process is the same for all of us, from state champion to middle of the pack freshman. The process is what makes this special! Years from now, when you look back at your high school cross country days, it won’t be the race results you remember, it will be the days of practice, of shared “suffering,” you spent with your mates that you will recall . . . the workouts, the long runs, the drills, the striders, the strength training, the pasta dinners, the corny jokes, the laughter, the pain . . . the process. That – gentlemen - should be the focus going forward. Concentrate each day on doing things as perfectly as possible. As we move into the track season and begin to look ahead to Cross Country 2017, it’s okay to dream of success and establish goals (which are really just dreams with a plan and a deadline). Your goals will give you the will to do what is required. On a day-to-day basis, however, focus on the process. Perfect what you do! Get the most you can out of each and every practice!
We can’t assure you of victory . . .
There are no guarantees.
But, we can assure you that – win or lose – you will come away with a sense of self-satisfaction that few people are ever privileged to experience.
Thank you . . .
Thank you managers: Mike McShane, Matt Powell, Dan Schwartz, Billy Gehret and Nik Kadirisani. Workouts would have been next to impossible to coordinate without your help. We appreciate your efforts and your dedication to the program!
Thank you Mr. Bookwalter and all the members of the Booster Club!
Thank you, parents, for raising such outstanding young men and allowing us to work with them. Thank you also for your support for all that we do!
Thank you Mrs. Charlesworth and Mr. Agnew! We truly appreciate our administration’s support!
Thank you Mr.Smyth and Mr. Falk for all of the great photos! Additional thanks, Mr. Smyth, for keeping our website updated!
Thank you, Mr. Shea, for your work with the Marlton Rec Program. Thanks to you we are getting talented, motivated, freshmen coming into the program. It has made a big difference and we really appreciate it!
Most of all, thank you athletes! You make our job easy. You earned the number ranking in South Jersey through your hard work and commitment to excellence. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride! We are incredibly proud of you!
- Coach Shak & Coach Thompson