On October 14, 2011, the team took the short bus ride over to Mill Creek Park in Willingboro for the Burlington County Open, AKA, the County Championship. Probably as a result of bringing their Florida weather back home with them, the weather was windy, with intermittent rain, and the course was flooded in places! But, accustomed as they were to crummy weather, they came home as champions!
Indeed, as a result of these conditions, the times were slow but lots of good things happened! In the Varsity competition, Shawn Wilson showed his toughness when he fell -- he claimed into the Rancocas River though Comcast Sports Commentator Reuben Franks said it was the Neshaminy Creek ! -- and got up to finish a close 2nd to Connor Herr from Shawnee, the top underclassman in last year's New Jersey Meet of Champions. Aiden Lynch had no major issues this time -- he kept his shoes on and his stomach was only a little upset -- and, as a result, he had his strongest race yet to finish 4th! Matt Venanzi stuck to his race plan of starting easier and moved up over the course of the race to place 6th, with Mike Lowinger close behind in 10th! Matt Decker finished the scoring for Cherokee in 14th place, with Jeremy Morgan a few tics back in 18th, and Phillip-Robert Cerria at 34th!
In the class race, Billy Hornung showed that he may be on his way back, winning by a huge margin! Justin DeTone won the freshman competition, with James Transue picking up the 12th place medal! Danny Mintzer grabbed the 10th place medal for the juniors in only his second-ever cross country race, and Freddy Rasmussen ran a very strong race and PR'd by almost a minute to earn Runner of the Meet honors!
For the record, this victory marks Cherokee's twelfth county championship over the past fifteen years! GO CHIEFS!
Details at: MileSplit, NJRunners.
On October 21, 2011, Cherokee traveled to Gloucester County College for the Olympic Conference Championships and, running on the "C" course, continued to win major races, adding the Conference crown to the American Division and Burlington County titles captured earlier!
Shawn Wilson not only continued his fine season but stepped it up a notch with his win over Connor Herr of Shawnee in a swift 15:41, one second off the course record held by Miles Schoedler of Ocean City! Aiden Lynch had his second strong race in a row, backing up his 4th place finish at the County Open with another 4th place finish and a 5K PR! Matt Venanzi and Mike Lowinger weren't having their best day but both hung tough and came through with the necessary finish to keep us in the lead, Venanzi in 12th and Lowinger 15th! Matt Decker passed several runners in the last 400 and set a PR to grab the 19th spot and complete the scoring! For good measure, Jeremy Morgan in 21st and Billy Hornung in 27th, finished as our 6th and 7th men but beat the 4th man from both 2nd place Lenape and 3rd place Cherry Hill East!
In the JV race, PR's were set all over the place! Phillip-Robert Cerria didn't PR but, given the sinus infection he was dealing with, he ran a tough race to finish 4th! Right behind PRC, freshman, Justin DeTone knocked an amazing 50 seconds off his PR to grab the 5th spot! Of the remaining five runners, four PR'ed and one set a season best. Danny Mintzer placed 31st with a 40 second PR. Freddy Rasmussen and James Transue were 39th and 40th, Freddy PR'ing by a minute and James by over 2 minutes! In addition, Chris Oltorik PR'ed by about 1 minute and Matt Adams set a season best by close to a minute. All in all, a very good day for the Chiefs!
The coaches named James Transue the Runner of the Meet because of the aggressive way he competed in the race, dropping over two minutes from his previous best! GO JAMES!
Results at: NJRunners.
On October 26, 2011, the Chiefs traveled to Haddonfield for the Haddonfield XC Invitational, a "sub-varsity" meet designed for those who are unlikely to be competing in the up-coming state championships or, as is often the case, for athletes competing for those last places on the varsity squads! In addition to the interscholastic competition, Cherokee coaches divided their runners into two squads, Shak's and Cal's, and they competed for all-important "bragging rights" at the season-ending banquet!
In the interscholastic competition, Senior, Billy Hornung, led the team, finishing in 1st place in only his third race back from injury! Junior, Phillip-Robert Cerria took 2nd in the field of 124 runners to give Cherokee a great start in the team scoring. He was followed closely by freshman, Justin DeTone, in 7th place. Behind those three, the Chiefs got PR performances from Danny Mintzer, Freddy Rasmussen, James Transue, Drew Scott, Zach LoPresti, Matt Adams and Chris Oltorik! All of their efforts paid off as the team took 1st place in the race!
In the inter-squad competition, Coach Cal's team was unable to "Stop PRC" as Coach Shak's team, led by Phillip-Robert Cerria, took the victory! Last year was something of a banner year for Coach Cal as his team won the annual competition -- by a single point! -- for the first time in nine attempts! This year, the tenth, the record moved to 9 - 1 in Coach Shaklee's favor! GO SHAK!
The coaches -- well, Coach Shaklee -- named his squad's champion, Phillip-Robert Cerria, the Runner of the Meet both for his leadership and the big PR he set in the race! GO PRC!
Results at: NJRunners.
On November 2, 2011, Cherokee's Freshmen and Junior Varsity runners ended their season competing against the top programs in the state at the New Jersey State Freshman-Junior Varsity Cross Country Championships at Thompson Park in Jamesburg. In the Freshman event, Justin DeTone showed that he can run with the top freshmen in the state as he contended for the win before falling off toward the finish but still finishing in 12th place in a field of 174 runners! James Transue also got an aggressive start and held on to finish in 53rd place.
In the JV competition, Cherokee was led by Phillip-Robert Cerria who finished 43rd in a field of 167 runners in the championship race despite taking a fall just past the two mile mark. Danny Mintzer, Freddy Rasmussen, Zach LoPresti and Matt Adams completed the scoring as the team finished 16th in the 24 team field.
The coaches selected Danny Mitzer as the Runner of the Meet as he came back from injury and ran consistently well over the second half of the season, ending with this meet where he was the third fastest Cherokee runner of the day. GO DANNY!
Details at: NJRunners.
Thanks to Dennis Transue for these pictures of the Freshman race!