Cherokee Cross Country Pictures, 2008, Page IV

The early part of the Championship Season was over with Cherokee winning both the Burlington County Championship and the Olympic Conference Championship! Now the team faced its greatest challenges of the season as it competed at Sectionals, Groups, and the State Meet of Champions! GO CHEROKEE!

The New Jersey State Sectional Championship

On Saturday, November 8, 2008, Cherokee took the first step towards the State Meet of Champions when it traveled to Delsea High School for the New Jersey Cross Country Sectional Championships. The team won this race last year by the largest margin of victory since 1999 and advanced to the Group States Championships! This year, however, illness, injuries and other issues weakened the team, and they faced significant challenges from both well-known local teams and lesser-known regional teams located closer to the shore. Still, on paper, the team was destined to win!

Unfortunately, the real winning had to happen on the course and Cherokee was forced to take second behind a strong Toms River North team!

In Cross Country, "the pack" is the key to scoring, and this year's "pack" looked great! At the recent Olympic Conference Championship, the team posted a solid fifteen second spread from 1 through 4; but, at Sectionals, they were uncharacteristically spread out over fifty-one seconds! Steve Burkholder led the team and ran well, passing three runners in the final 400 meters to place 5th! Chris Applegate followed in 13th; Sean Hartnett in 22nd; Kyle Smith in 32nd; Ryan McNair in 35th; Matt McCarroll in 37th; and Aiden Lynch in 65th completed the scoring for the team.

Although it was Cherokee's fifteenth consecutive top-five finish at Sectionals, and easily qualified them for the up-coming State Groups Championships the following week, it was a severe blow to a team that worked incredibly hard to repeat last year's victory. Over the past eleven years, Cherokee executed a series of startling performances at Sectionals. Four straight titles between 1997 and 2000. Then six years of near-misses -- 2nd in 2001, 2nd in 2002, 3rd in 2003, 2nd in 2004, 2nd in 2005, 4th in 2006 -- before returning to the top in 2007! The question that faced this 2008 team was, "How will they respond next week?!" The answer was obvious . . ..

The coaches selected Matt McCarroll as the "Runner of the Meet!" Only Matt finished before his counterpart on any other team -- he was the first "6th man" -- and he raced incredibly tough in his first meet back from illness. His last race was a full month earlier! GO MATT!

Complete results for what seems like the last 20 years of racing in New Jersey at: Lou Fraulo Racing Systems. For the Group IV Boys race only: SJ Groups IV Boys results. For further details and pictures: Pat Montferrat's Mile Split/NJ Runner.

The pictures are less than perfect because it rained steadily throughout the race . . . not like Rhode Island but enough to mess-up the pictures!

Steve Burkholder and Chris Applegate at about 600m Kyle Smith at about 600m Sean Hartnett at about 600m Aiden Lynch at about 600m Steve Burkholder just out of the first woods
Chris Applegate just out of the first woods Ryan McNair just out of the first woods Matt McCarroll and Sean Hartnett just out of the first woods Steve Burkholder at the finish line Chris Applegate at the finish line
Sean Hartnett at the finish line Kyle Smith at the finish line Ryan McNair at the finish line Matt McCarroll at the finish line Aiden Lynch at the finish line

The New Jersey State Group Championship

Sunday, November 16, 2008, was a cloudy, windy and cold day in Holmdel, New Jersey but the weather wasn't near as cruel as the outcome of the New Jersey Group State Championships at Holmdel Park! Cherokee knew the team was "off" the previous week at Sectionals and they arrived at Holmdel determined to correct the situation. For fifteen years, the team qualified for the State Groups and, last year, they won the championship, as they had from 1997 through 2000! It seemed a great time to build another series of championships!

But, again, the bitch Goddesses of Fate intervened and denied them the victory . . . leaving them, once again, in second place!

The team stuck early in the scoring with Chris Applegate and Steve Burkholder in 16th and 23rd respectively, with both running under 17:00 on the challenging Holmdel course! Ryan McNair matched his time on the course in October and finished in 33rd, with Sean Hartnett and Matt McCarroll closing in 48th and 60th. Their score of 125 easily defeated last week's Sectional winner, Toms River North, but, they fell 7 points short of Old Bridge, this year's State Group Champions!

The coaches had two strong candidates for the "Runner of the Meet" title: Chris Applegate and Steve Burkholder! Applegate was the top Cherokee finisher, and his time of 16:47.8 marked the fifth time in his career that he ran under 17:00 on Holmdel's championship course! Burkholder, Cherokee's second finisher, ran confidently throughout the race. His time of 16:59.70 cracked the 17 minute barrier for the first time on Holmdel, and he became Cherokee's 20th sub-17 performer at Holmdel! The coaches finally selected Chris Applegate for his team leadership and aggressive manner throughout the race! GO YAPS!

Disappointed as they were, the team added to a string of Cherokee Cross Country accomplishments! This was the 12 consecutive year that Cherokee qualified for the State Meet of Champions, and no other public school in the state can claim that distinction! In addition, they posted the fastest average team time in Group IV, and the seventh-fastest time of the day!

Results available at: Pat Montferrat's Mile Split/NJ Runner, or Lou Fraulo Racing Systems. For a quick link to Group IV Boys race only: Group States, Gp IV Boys results. For the top individual times, in order: Top times through 860 finishers.

Chris Applegate at 1400m Burkholder, Hartnett and McNair at 1400m Kyle Smith at 1400m Marc Saccomanno at 1400m Chris Applegate at 2 mile
Steve Burkholder at 2 mile Sean Hartnett at 2 mile Matt McCarroll at 2 mile Marc Saccomanno at 2 mile Kyle Smith at 2 mile
Guest Photographers

Pat Montferrat,, catches Burk at finish Pat Montferrat,, catches McNair at finish Mike McCarroll shoots post-race team Mike McCarroll pictures the awards stand

The New Jersey State Meet of Champions

November 22, 2008: sunny, temperatures in the 30s, wind chill in the low 20s. Challenging cross country weather!

The headline should read, "Record Pileup Dooms Cherokee's Chances in the MOC!" because any chance of Cherokee making a significant statement at the New Jersey State Meet of Champions ended when the entire team, and quite a few others, fell in a large pileup early in the race. Indeed, several of Cherokee's runners fell twice as they struggled to untangle themselves from the pile, four were "spiked," and one was unable to continue the race!

Few saw the incident as it occurred while entering the first woods on the course but everyone from Cherokee knew something had happened when the race emerged from those woods and no orange uniforms were in view. Indeed, at the mile mark, no Cherokee runner was among the top 100 in the 185-man race! Chris Applegate, typically the leader on the Cherokee squad, was well behind all of the other Cherokee runners, and Marc Saccomanno was among the missing! Yikes!

Showing great character, the team struggled on, moving up in the race, but not enough to reach their hoped-for goal for the MOC. They finished 10th overall, two places ahead of Old Bridge, the winners of the State Group Championships of the previous week, whose runners were also involved in the race pileup!

Even so, they continued to add to the storied history of Cherokee Cross Country! For twelve straight years, the Cherokee team qualfied for the Meet of Champions and, for twelve straight years, they finished in the top ten! This year, the race was, literally, rougher than ever before but the team kept the streak alive!

Think about it: there are over 500 high schools in the state of New Jersey, almost all of which have Cross Country teams, and, for twelve straight years, Cherokee has been among the top twenty schools in the state to qualify, through Sectionals and Groups, for the State Meet of Champions . . . the only public school in state history to do so! In addition, when they got to the Meet of Champions, for twelve straight years, they finished among the top ten! Among those in the know, that's not just a team, that's a "program!" Be proud! GO CHEROKEE!

The coaches greatly admired the members of the team who were able to recover from the pileup early in the race and go on to finish strong. From among those, they selected Sean Hartnett as the "Runner of the Meet!" Sean not only got up and finished the race, he managed to improve his time over what he ran the previous week at the State Group Championships! GO SEAN!

Results available at: Pat Montferrat's Mile Split/NJ Runner, or dig through Lou Fraulo Racing Systems.

Steve Burkholder at mile Sean Hartnett, McCarroll, Smith (McNair hidden) at mile Matt McCarroll, Smith, McNair at mile Kyle Smith at mile Chris Applegate at mile
Applegates return from the bowl Marc Saccomanno with EMS Nanook Saccomanno of the North Tree Hugger, Ryan Bobb Parents lament race outcome, or huddle against the cold!

Thanks to Pat Montferrat of Mile Split. NJ for these pictures!

Pat Montferrat shoots Burkholder at finish Pat Montferrat shoots Hartnett at finish Pat Montferrat shoots McNair at finish Pat Montferrat shoots Smith at finish

Hey, Look, Make It An Easy Day

On November 29, 2008, the team considered going to the Nike Team Regionals in New York State but another engagement took precedence: Coach Cal decided to get married! So, practice was shortened . . . an easy day . . . 12 miles . . . but easy . . . it was, after all, a special day!

And everyone knows how marriage mellows a guy . . . look at Coach Shak!

[The pictures below are of a t-shirt produced by Matt Callinan in honor of his brother's marriage.]

Front of Callinan t-shirt Back of Callinan t-shirt

Cherokee Cross Country Awards Dinner

On Sunday, December 7, 2007, following a long-standing tradition, Cherokee's Cross Country team held its annual awards dinner at the school. There the team, coaches, families and friends enjoyed a meal together, applauded the accomplishments of the team this season, and bid farewell to the graduating seniors. Highlights included the catered meal provided by the parents, the special video provided by several seniors, and the Coaches' awards, including the Freshman Most Valuable Runner, the Most Improved Runner, the Unsung Hero, and the Varsity Most Valuable Runner. Coach Shaklee's remarks are recounted in Coach's Message.

Coach Shaklee welcomes the audience Attendees Attendees Freshmen Sophomores Juniors
Seniors All-Conference Award Winners Coaches' Awards Winners Adam Henriksen introduces Senior film Viewing the Senior film, Before and After

Team Honors

Individual Honors/Awards

--- The following Coaches' Awards were announced:

--- The following awards were announced by the South Jersey Track Coaches Association, the Camden Courier-Post, the Burlington County Times, and the Olympic Conference:

Congratulations to everyone for a great year! GO CHEROKEE!

Return to the index for Cross Country Pictures, 2008

Return to the Main Page for Cherokee Cross Country