On July 4, 2014, several current cross country team members and a number of Alums participated in what is supposed to be a "fun run" but, even with the serious heat and humidity, is fast becoming a personal time-trial for some and a kind of reunion for the team! Current team members in the race included Mike Zarzolo, Nick Falk, Jack Shea, Brendan Falzone, Steve Gravlin, Josh Annandsingh, and Noah Gil, and newcomers Justin Kelly, Mike Iannotta, and Kevin Bookwalter.
Alums who made a showing included Shawn Wilson, '12, who finished 1st overall in 15:56 (3rd in 16:21 last year); Kyle Miller, '09, who finished 3rd in 17:29 and dropped 16 seconds off his time last year!; Kaleb Burch, '13; Matt Mueller, '00; Mike Candy, '05; Mike Hare, '12; Evan Stone '09; Dan Mintzer, '13; Drew Viscidy, '12; and, eventually, Freddy Rasmussen, '13! Details at: L & M Sports. Alas, no pictures of the racers are available.
In late August, for the sixteenth year in a row, many members of Cherokee's Cross Country team attended the extraordinary RunningWorks Cross Country Camp in Canadensis, Pennsylvania. There they participated in a week-long program of training with top coaches and athletes from the Northeastern United States; learned from special guest speakers: three extraordinary Villanova stars, Ben Malone, Jordan Williams and Chris O'Sullivan, All-American Dylan Capwell of Monmouth University; and our own RunningWorks' Director, Olympian Marcus O'Sulivan, and drilled with Jamaican Olympian Ringo Adamson!
For more on the camp, see the RunningWorks website at: RunningWorks.
Our photographer caught most of Cherokee's athletes in action and the following pictures capture some of their time at camp. For obvious reasons, the pictures of the team at the Trivia session have been withheld! (Ten dollars to the ALS Charity will guarantee their complete disappearance!) By the way, on the way home, the photographer saw one Cherokee athlete had stopped at the closest Tasty Freeze only a few miles out of camp! He wanted a picture as a fitting end to a long week at camp but his cameras were packed away in the trunk! Maybe next year, BF?!
A wider selection of pictures from camp is available at RunningWorks Cross Country Camp Photos.
On September 13, 2014, Cherokee hosted the 19th Annual Cherokee Challenge and looked very good doing it! The staff, parents and our athletes put on a great show and everything went well!
Originally this meet was designed to test the runners' condition before they entered "the real season" but lately it has become much more than that! The races are shorter -- only 3200m -- and, while competitive in nature, the whole experience was supposed to be more lighthearted and enjoyable than the meets of the regular season. But no one wants to lose anything so it has become something of an all-out sprint -- especially in the first 800m -- over 3200m! This year, for the 2500 runners who raced the Middle School and High School courses, it appeared even more so!
For the Cherokee team, it was a good start for the team and a chance to get an idea of where we are and what we need to do. The team's goals are way down the road in late October and November, but this was a strong beginning! Despite running without two important seniors -- Justin DeTone was sick and Noah Gil was taking the ACTs -- Cherokee put five runners between 10:17 and 10:58 after only having two under 11:00 last year. Nick Falk led the way with his 3rd place finish in the Sophomore race, a 33 second improvement over last year. Jack Shea was right behind him in 6th, with a 34 second improvement, while first year runner, Brendan Falzone snagged a medal taking 30th in the field of 304 runners! Mike Zurzolo also medaled in the Junior race, placing 21st and running faster than our top runner in last year's meet! Steve Gravlin dipped under 11:00 and made the top 50 in a field of 335! Other top juniors for Cherokee were Ty Kurzawa, who dropped his time by 30 seconds from last year, and first year runner, Dave Osterhout, who finished in the top 1/3 of the field in his first cross country race ever!
Cherokee was well represented in the freshman race with 11 finishers, led by Justin Kelly in 4th! Joe Falk also medaled with his 29th place finish, while Brandon Marks, Mike Ianotta and Kevin Bookwalter all finished within 8 seconds of each other in 56th, 59th and 63rd out of 319 runners!
Lenny Wen was Cherokee's top senior and he ran a solid race, knocking more than a minute off of his time from last year. Lenny also finished 110 places higher than he did in last year's junior race, a feat that earned him Runner of the Meet honors. GO LENNY!
Details on the meet at NJRunner/MileSplit.
Before posting all the pictures, here's a contest for you! Everyone knows the first rule in Cherokee Cross Country is to "look ahead for the photographer" so he doesn't catch you looking bad. Well, that's the photographer's rule . . . the coaches tend to focus on other "rules!" Anyway, this guy broke the rule like few others! Can you identify this reckless rule breaker?!
Congratulations to Super Sleuth, Junior Mike Zurzolo for identifying our stealth runner and reckless rule breaker, Junior Dave Osterhout! In the future, Dave will be the one wearing the red blinking light.
And don't forget to thank all the parents who helped in numerous ways to make the Cherokee Challenge a first class experience! The photographer caught one team at work in the concession stand but he got too wound-up in the meet to get others. Sorry about that! The second picture is of some parents who, years ago, worked just as hard to put on the Cherokee Challenge! They were out on the course cheering!
On September 16, 2014, Cherokee traveled to the newly named Rowan College at Gloucester County for the first of two Olympic Conference Batch Meets. Unlike in the past when the "dual meets" or "batch meets" determined the conference champions, today's batch meets are for practice only. Following that, the coach thought the team needed something to help them focus. He derived goal times, based on performances from the Cherokee Challenge, and gave each athlete something to shoot for. He also had the top seven varsity runners run a threshold pace to help pace others through the race. Unfortunately, the bus arrived late to the meet and that resulted in a shortened warm-up and too little time for our athletes to understand and focus on their goals during the race.
Even so, a few athletes did a nice job of dealing with this distraction and performed at a level equal to or better than their goal time. The two best examples of this were junior, Dave Osterhout and freshman, AJ Kostyo, who ran 16 and 17 seconds faster than their assigned "goals" to share Runner of the Meet honors. Also, Cam Wilburn exceeded his goal by 6 seconds while Ty Kurzawa was 2 seconds ahead of schedule and Pritesh Prajapati hit his perfectly. In addition, freshmen, Brandon Marks, Matt Morgan and Matt Smith all came close to their goal times. Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
Hey, where's Jack? Did he break "the rule?"
For years now, the Cherokee Cross Country team traveled to major out-of-state invitationals -- Rhode Island, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, etc.-- and this year the team traveled to the Johns Hopkins University's 63rd Annual Spiked Shoe Invitational in Baltimore, Maryland! There they competed in three separate races and did well in all three! In the Varsity competition, the team was led by the 6-7-8 finish of Jack Shea, Justin DeTone and Nick Falk. Mike Zurzolo and Justin Kelly also ran well to finish in 19th and 28th respectively and help the squad secure a 2nd place finish in the field of 20 teams! In addition, Steve Gravlin and Brendan Falzone both dipped under 18:00 to finish in 54th and 55th as the teams 6-7 runners.
The JV team also placed 2nd as they were led by Dave Osterhout in 3rd, Tyler Kurzawa in 5th, and Noah Gil in 7th! In addition, Pritesh Prajapati, Lenny Wen and Cam Wilburn all ran sub-20 to finish 17th, 20th and 22nd respectively!
Finally, in the Open Race, the team finished in 3rd place out of 11 teams with a top 7 composed of 6 freshmen and one new junior! Freshman, Joe Falk ran a strong race and came up just short of victory, finishing in 2nd place, a mere two seconds behind the winner. For his efforts, Joe earned Runner of the Meet honors. GO JOE! Behind Joe, Freshman, Brandon Marks also ran very well to finish 5th overall. Matt Livardo, a new junior running in his first xc race, and freshmen, Mike Iannotta, Matt Smith, Matt Morgan and Jon Conn all finished between 16th and 43rd, in the field of 134 runners, to secure the 3rd place team finish!
Details at: Running Maryland.
Our regular photographer was elsewhere but Coach Jarvis and several of his girls tried their best and we appreciate that!
Cherokee's trainer, Mr. Wood, was also there and he sent the following pictures. THANKS, MR. WOOD!
Hey, where's Jack? Did he break "the rule" again?!
On September 23, 2014, the team returned to Rowan College at Gloucester County for the Colonial Conference Batch Meet # 2 and, like before, used it for training. While the top eight memebers of the team did various interval exercises, the rest of the team took on five or six other teams in the conference.
All of Cherokee's athletes improved their performances over the first batch meet, some by quite a bit. Noah Gil earned Runner of the Meet honors for his one minute improvement from last week, and for the way he kept working over the 2nd half of the race when the pain set in! GO NOAH!
Details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.