Cherokee Cross Country Pictures, 2011, Page I


Once again, last year's seniors and captains have graduated and new leaders must rise to the occasion. And, while Cherokee is depending on a squad of well-trained and tested Seniors and Juniors, they are also looking to Freshmen Matt Centrowitz and his training partner, Bernard Lagat, to fill out that group of seasoned runners!

As everyone in New Jersey knows, Cherokee Cross Country has set an impressive record over the past fifteen years or so: sixteen consecutive appearances at the State Group Championships, and, until last year, twelve consecutive appearances in the State Meet of Champions, with five State Championships during that time. Now, as it has over all those years, it comes down to how committed the team was through their summer training, how hard they worked then, and how hard they'll continue to work to add to that illustrious history!


RunningWorks Cross Country Camp

On August 14th, 2011, eight of Cherokee's runners reported to the extraordinary RunningWorks Cross Country Camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and participated in a tough week of training and classes. Adding to the difficulty of the schedule was a week marred by some cloudy and even rainy days . . . pretty unusual weather for our Utopia in the mountains! Still, they missed only one run because of an afternoon of persistent thundershowers and all the other classes and events went on as planned!

The following pictures are of Cherokee's coaches and our athletes at camp. And, unlike last year when several team members kept decidedly low profiles, this year, all of Cherokee's campers were photographed "in action" . . . and that includes Trivia Night! Yikes!

Matt Adams enjoys the rain Freddy Rasmussen Matt Venanzi Mike Lowinger Jeremy Morgan, Phillip-Robert Cerria, Matt Decker Hornung, Venanzi, Decker, Wilson on Cherokee Rock
Matt Decker Shawn Wilson Mike Lowinger (Yersak), Matt Decker, Jeremy Morgan Phillip-Robert Cerria Jeremy Morgan
Matt Decker Wilson, Hornung, Lynch, Venanzi Mike Lowinger Billy Hornung Mike Lowinger Freddy Rasmussen
Matt Venanzi Shawn Wilson Jeremy Morgan Coach Shaklee at Yoga Aiden Lynch at Yoga Billy Hornung at Yoga
Coach Cal Trivia Night Trivia Night Mike Lowinger with Group Aiden Lynch Shawn Wilson
Billy Hornung Decker (Yersak) Cerria Jeremy Morgan Aiden Lynch Phillip-Robert Cerria Four guys in A Group
Freddy Rasmussen Matt Adams Shawn Wilson Billy Hornung

The Season Begins!

Well, earlier-mentioned incoming Freshmen Matt Centrowitz and his training partner, Bernard Lagat, failed to meet the rigorous training standards of the Cherokee staff so the team will again depend on the upperclassmen and several new members to make its mark this season!

The early schedule is relatively light with plenty of time for runners to compete as well as train for the upcoming championship season. The racing begins with the short-course Cherokee Challenge (September 11th); soon followed by the South Jersey XC Shootout (September 17th). After that, the next big meet is the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic in Orlando, Florida (October 8th). There are three Olympic Conference "Batch Meets" scheduled each Tuesday in September but the coaches use these for training and not serious competition.


Cherokee Challenge

On September 11, 2011, Cherokee hosted the 16th Annual Cherokee Challenge, a huge meet designed to test the runners condition before they enter the "meat of the season!" The races are shorter -- only 3200m -- and, while competitive in nature, the whole experience is supposed to be more lighthearted than the meets of the regular season. But, hey, who wants to lose?!

In the Freshman race, Justin DeTone and James Transue, both ran well to finish 46th and 59th respectively in a field of 232 runners! Both our sophomores, Drew Scott and Zach LoPresti, are first year runners and had respectable first-ever cross country races!

The junior race was the highlight for Cherokee when Shawn "where's my soccer ball and Apple Jacks" Wilson not only won, but ran the fastest time of the day in the first cross country race of his life! Not a bad start! Matt Decker and Phillip-Robert Cerria both had decent showings, although PRC might have run quite a bit faster had he not lost his shoe and stopped to put it back on!

In the senior race, Mike Lowinger was, essentially, running his first real cross country race of his young life! His 14th place finish shows the hard work he put in this summer! Jeremy Morgan earned Runner of the Meet honors for demonstrating what hard work and determination can bring: after finishing 116th last year in the junior race, he put in a great summer of training and dropped all the way to 40th in the senior race! GO JEREMY!

Pictures provided by Mike Dennis and Pat Montferrat of NJRunners. Results at: MileSplit/NJRunners.

Mike Lowinger Matt Venanzi Jeremy morgan Jeremy Morgan Matt Adams Mike Lowinger
Matt Venanzi Jeremy Morgan Drew Scott Zach LoPresti Justin DeTone Jame Transue
Shawn Wilson Freddy Rasmussen Matt Decker PRC Shawn Wilson

South Jersey XC Shootout

On September 17, 2011, the team traveled to Gloucester County College for the South Jersey XC Shootout, a uniquely scored cross country meet. Rather than have one varsity race, they have varsity runners competing in three separate races. In the first race, the teams' 5th, 6th, and 7th runners compete; in the second race, the teams' 3rd and 4th runners compete; and in the last race, the teams' 1st and 2nd runners compete.

Cherokee dominated from the beginning! In the first race, the team's 5th, 6th, and 7th runners, placed among the top six finishers in a field of 91! Matt Decker took 2nd, with Jeremy Morgan right behind in 3rd, and Phillip-Robert Cerria in 6th! Matt and Jeremy PR'd by over a minute on the course while PRC PR'd by more than 2 minutes!

In the second race, featuring the 3rd and 4th men of each team, Cherokee was even more dominant! Aiden Lynch, running his first race of the year, and Mike Lowinger, racing his first 5K cross country event, took the top two spots in a field of 71 runners!

In the final race, where each team's 1st and 2nd runners competed, Cherokee secured the Meet Championship when Shawn "I love soccer more" Wilson finished 1st with the fastest time of the day by 14 seconds! Shawn has had a great start to his cross country career, winning his first two Invitationals in convincing style! Completing the scoring for the Chiefs was Matt Venanzi, who rebounded from an early fall and moved up over the course of the race to place 9th overall. For his gutsy effort, Matt was named Runner of the Meet! GO MATT!

The JV and Freshmen teams also raced well with everyone improving from the batch meet earlier in the week. The JV's were led by Andrew Scott and Freddy Rasmussen, while Justin DeTone and James Transue led the freshmen squad.

Detailed results and a fascinating interview with Aiden Lynch and Shawn "I love soccer more" Wilson at: NJRunners.

Justin DeTone James Transue Chris Oltorik Rasmussen and Vishnu Kadirisani Brian Kwok Andrew Scott
Zach LoPresti Brian Kwok Andrew Scott near finish Freddy Rasmussen near finish Vishnu Kadirisani near finish Zach LoPresti near finish
Matt Decker at start Jeremy Morgan at mile Cerria and Decker at mile Decker and Morgan at 1.6 Phillip-Robert Cerria at 1.6 Matt Decker at road home!
Jeremy Morgan finishes Phillip-Robert Cerria finishes Cartoonist captures results of 3 & 4 race Aiden Lynch at 1.2 miles Mike Lowinger at 1.2 miles Finish
Aiden Lynch nears finish line Mike Lowinger nears finish line Stud Race begins Matt Venanzi at start Wilson at 1.2 miles Venanzi at 1.2 miles
Venanzi at 1.2 miles Venanzi at 1.2 miles Wilson crosses road towards home Wilson at finish Wilson at finish Venanzi at finish
Top 25 Goofy team pic with we-know-who Goofy team pic without we-know-who Shawn Wilson with gunslinger's hat Post-race interview on NJRunners

Batch Meet #2

On September 20, 2011, a small portion of the team traveled to Gloucester County College for the second of three Olympic Conference "Batch Meets." This year, the Batch Meets are for training only and have no impact on determining the conference title: that will be decided by the Conference Championship Race in October. As a result, the first Batch Meet on September 13th was hardly noticed as Cherokee used it as a threshold training session. This time, the varsity runners stayed home to train and the JV athletes stepped-up to run in the varsity race. Drew Scott continued his steady improvement with another PR to lead the team, and he was followed closely by Freshman, Justin DeTone, who knocked two minutes off of his time from the last batch meet to earn Runner of the Meet honors! GO JUSTIN! It was also good to see Junior, Danny Mintzer back in the line-up although he was only running a tempo effort through the race. Danny looked good and should be ready for his first real race soon!

Batch Meet #3

On September 27, 2011, Cherokee sent another small group of JV and Freshmen runners to Batch Meet #3 at Gloucester County College. The highlight of this meet was the PR performance of Freshman Justin DeTone! Despite the warm, humid, windy conditions, Justin led the team finishing in 19th place and setting a new 5k PR on the course. With the challenging conditions, Justin's PR was the only one of the day for Cherokee and well-worth naming him, for a second consecutive week, the Runner of the Meet! GO JUSTIN!

Olympic Conference American Division Championship

On October 4, 2011, the team traveled to Gloucester County College for the Olympic Conference American Division Championship and, for the 15th time in the last 16 years, they came home victorious! Leading the way for the Chiefs was junior, Shawn Wilson, who won the individual championship to stay undefeated for the season! Behind Wilson, seniors Mike Lowinger, Matt Venanzi, Aiden Lynch and Jeremy Morgan all finished between 7th and 13th to complete the scoring. Junior, Matt Decker, finished close behind in 16th and aided in the scoring by placing in front of second-place Lenape's 5th runner.

The coach selected Aiden Lynch as Runner of the Meet because of the way he handled himself after one of his shoes was stripped off by another runner halfway through the race! Barefoot running can be relatively easy if you're accustomed to it or competing on a well-manicured golf course but, with the difficult conditions at Gloucester County College, running half the race without a shoe and scoring key points for the team is especially noteworthy! GO AIDEN!

Full results at: NJRunners.

The following pictures were supplied by parent, Bert Decker:

Team, pre-race Decker and Cerria Venanzi and Decker Wilson at mile Lynch at mile Venanzi at mile
Morgan and Decker at mile Morgan and Decker at mile Wilson in woods Venanzi and Lowinger in woods Lowinger in woods Lynch in woods
Morgan in woods Decker in woods Cerria in woods Wilson at road Lowinger and Venanzi at road Lynch at road
Cerria in woods Lynch finishes Morgan finishes Decker finishes

Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic

On the long weekend of October 7 - 10, 2011, the team made an unusual trip to sunny and warm Orlando, Florida for the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic and there they enjoyed some nice running, glorious weather and fun-filled days in the world-famous amusement park! What? . . . what? . . . it rained the whole time?! You're kidding . . . it was great in New Jersey!

Let's check the Weather Channel and see if someone's kidding: "A persistent and very strong easterly flow will produce gusty winds of 20 to 40 mph and occasionally very heavy rain across the Florida Peninsula through the weekend and into the upcoming work week." Hmmmmmmm . . . guess not!

Even with the bad weather, the wind, rain and mud, the Varsity placed 3rd in a field of 26 teams in the 3A Invitational event! Leading the way for the Chiefs was junior, Shawn Wilson, who was a close 2nd in the race, finishing only two seconds behind the winner from Estero High School in Florida. Senior, Matt Venanzi, ran his best race of the season to finish as Cherokee's 2nd man, in 10th place overall, in the field of 180 runners; and he was followed closely by senior, Aiden Lynch, in 12th. In addition, Mike Lowinger, took 27th; Matt Decker, 34th; Phillip-Robert Cerria, 47th; and Jeremy Morgan, in 50th, rounded out the scoring for the team.

In the JV competition, freshman, Justin DeTone led the way for the team with a PR performance of over a minute, to finish 22nd in a field of 260 runners. Other strong performances were turned in by Danny Mintzer, Drew Scott, Zach LoPresti, Freddy Rasmussen, Matt Adams and Chris Oltorik.

Just to add a bit . . . the course was as flat and fast as anything in South Jersey but the weather weakened everyone's performance! Had the conditions been better, everyone would have posted significant PR's! But even with the crummy conditions, nine out of fourteen runners had season-best times! In the Varsity race, Matt Venanzi had the biggest improvement, dropping 10 seconds from the time he ran at the SJ Shootout (under perfect conditions)! This was definitely Matt's best race yet, not just on time but for the competitiveness and focus he showed. And, although Shawn Wilson lost for the first time in his short Cross Country career, he did manage to drop a second off of his winning time from the Shootout. Matt Decker dropped a second as well while Aiden Lynch knocked off 5 seconds despite throwing-up twice -- what's that all about?! -- during the race. Freshman Justin DeTone became a legitimate runner after his big PR by 72 seconds . . . he had never broken 20 and he ran sub-19 in this race! Zach LoPresti also dropped more than a minute from his PR. Matt Adams dropped 2 minutes and 41 seconds off his season best, although he has a bit to go before he reaches his PR from 10th grade! Chris Oltorik had the biggest jump, dropping 4 minutes and 35 seconds as he learns more about Cross Country and how to manage the distances; and for this performance, Chris was named Runner of the Meet! GO CHRIS! All-in-all, not a bad day considering the conditions and the long distance Cherokee traveled the day before the race! GO CHEROKEE!

Details at: MileSplit, Florida. Also, MileSplit Florida has a video of the finish of the Varsity race at: Race 3A Finish.

To capture the flavor of the meet, here are several pictures sent by our correspondent from the race site early on race day . . ..

Walt Disney World? Walt Disney World? Orlando?

It WAS a tough day for coaches, runners and especially photographers as these pictures from Freshman Patrick Hickey demonstrate!

Rainy start Wilson racing Lowinger racing Decker racing Cerria racing Wilson post-race
Post-race Post-race Post-race O is for Orange Medals Tower of Terror?

And here are a few at the finish line from parent, Bert Decker:

Wilson finishes Venanzi finishes Lynch finishes Lowinger finishes Decker finishes Cerria finishes

Finally, here are some pictures, thanks to Girls' coach Jarvis, that apparently floated slowly up the coast and arrived a month after the event!

Wilson mid-race Lynch mid-race Venanzi mid-race PRC mid-race Morgan mid-race Wilson mid-race
Lynch mid-race Venanzi mid-race Lowinger mid-race Decker mid-race PRC mid-race Wilson near finish
Lynch near finish Lowinger near finish Lowinger near finish Decker near finish PRC near finish PRC near finish
Morgan near finish Morgan near finish Soggy group post-race The 'O' Team

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