On June 19, 2015, key members of the team hit the track for some pre-season blood testing. Yeah, it's pretty advanced stuff but there's a great deal of evidence to suggest that the VO2max Test and the Blood Lactate Profile are the best ways to identify heart rate training zones and intensities, and knowing their "zones" allows athletes to identify their optimal paces for training and racing! The idea here is to "stay within themselves" when training rather than follow unscientific group training models.
Shannon Grady, former All-American in Track and Field and now Exercise Physiologist and CEO of "Go! Athletics, a Sports Performance, Nutrition, and Wellness Training Center," was there to supervise a series of 800m exercises, obtaining blood samples and monitoring heart rates after each exercise. Grady's company website is at System Based Training.
It's always important to have recent graduates set the tone at such events. They know what is needed, they've experienced it, and their example and encouragement means a lot to both the athletes and the coaches. Special thanks to Justin DeTone for his help!
On July 4, 2015, the team followed something of a tradition when many showed-up for the Marlton Mayor's Cup 5K. Years ago, it started as a "fun run" but it has evolved into an early "time-trial" to allow the athletes to judge their fitness and training. If they run comfortably and well, then they're all happy . . . and, if they stink, then some re-evaluation is needed! In addition, a number of Alums always show-up, some to test the young guys and some just to say hello to friends and coaches.
This year, Alum Shawn Wilson showed-up to defend his title (he won for the third time!) and he was joined by another ten graduates including Matt Mueller '00; Kyle Miller '09; Kaleb Burch '13; Mike Hare '12; Evan Stone '09; Dan Mintzer '13; Mike Candy '05, and three Track Alums from the Merrigan family: Kevin '08, Ryan '11, and Colin '12.
Another eleven current Chiefs showed-up as well! Nick Falk took 2nd in the race and he was closely followed by Jack Shea, Mike Zurzolo and Justin Kelly who all ran in the 17's! Then Brandon Marks, Steve Glavin and Brendan Falzone finished in the 18's; Mike Iannotta, Matt Smith finished in the 19's; and Cam Wilburn and Joey Thompson finished in the 20's.
Three Cherokee running coaches showed-up for the event too . . . Coach Thompson and Coach Jarvis to run and Coach Shaklee to wave the flag . . . well, umbrella . . . as his foot continues to heal!
Details at L and M Sports.
On July 12, 2015, six team members entered a "fun run" in Utica, New York, The 38th Annual Utica Boilermaker 15k Road Race! Nothing like a quiet run in the park on a pleasant summer day!
The race website described the 9.3 mile course as "the greatest overall FUN of any race event" but included vague words like "challenging hills" without clearly mentioning the 4-mile uphill start . . . about 300 feet of up and down elevation changes! That ain't South Jersey!
Despite all that "fun," the guys produced some decent times and places in the race! With over 11,000 finishers, Nick Falk finished 89th overall and 4th in his 15-19 age group (54:35), with Jack Shea crossing the line in 98th, 20 seconds behind, to take 6th in the same age group! Justin Kelly, Mike Zurzolo, Brendan Falzone and Steve Gravlin followed in (age group) 21st, 23rd, 35th and 37th!
Details at: Boilermaker 15K.
Got a few pics from one parent that show Nick Falk mid-race and a few group pics! Thanks!
On August 11, 2015, Cherokee running geeks . . . I mean greats . . . Nick Falk and Jack Shea traveled to Princeton University to watch Robby Andrews' last workout before the World Championships in Beijing, China, and they returned with a great story and a note for Coach Shaklee! The story is that they joined Andrews through a lap of his training and the "note" is pictured below:
On August 17, 2015, sixteen members of the team arrived at Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains for the 17th Annual RunningWorks Cross Country Camp and, for them, it was a great week of training and fun! The business side of camp consisted of two runs a day and classes with various coaches and college athletes, learning drills to improve their coordination and strength, viewing videos for gait-analysis, and talking about race preparation and racing, and team-building. In addition, they learned from special guest speaker, Nike's elite distance runner Mary Cain, from our own RunningWorks' Director, Olympian and former world record-holder Marcus O'Sullivan, and they danced (and drilled) with Olympian Ringo Adamson! On the fun side of the ledger, they participated in a wide variety of games and activities, including RunningWorks' signature Trivia Night and the final night's dance!
For more on the camp, see the RunningWorks website at: RunningWorks.
The following pictures are of Cherokee athletes at camp. A wider selection of pictures from camp is available at RunningWorks Cross Country Camp Photos.
It's late August and MileSplit/New Jersey compiled lists of potential Cross Country stars and teams using results from last year's Cross Country and Track seasons. They're not to be taken seriously because there are dozens of variables but, just for grins . . . they ranked the returning Group IV Cross Country runners and, no surprise, listed both Nick Falk and Jack Shea in the top 10, but Cherokee's other varsity runners are listed down in the 50's and 60s! Hmmmm, we'll see . . .. Details at: GP IV individual rankings.
Following that thought, MileSplit/NJ just posted their list for the top 10 teams in the state based on last year's performances. At this point, Cherokee is listed at 8th with Cherry Hill East the only other South Jersey team at 4th. See Top Ten.
And for further grins, they ranked the various state teams using results from 3200m and 1600m races run last Spring. For example, scoring 3200m results, Cherokee finished 5th in the state behind CBA, Don Bosco, Voorhees and Colts Neck. Scoring the 1600m results, Cherokee finished 6th behind CBA, Voorhees, Haddon Twp, Colts Neck and Old Bridge. Details at: 3200m list, and 1600m list.
Check out the other lists! Sophomore rankings . . . Junior rankings. Our favorite is the 1 through 1,000 New Jersey State Ranking! For the record, Pat Day of Toms River North came in at 1,000! Oh Mama . . .! Details at: 1000 deep ranking!
On September 1, 2015, Shannon Grady and her "Go Athletics" team showed up again for another in a series of Blood-Lactate Testing. Scroll up for the June 19th testing session and an explanation of what can be gained from this testing. As usual, Team Shaklee showed up with all the necessaries for a safe exercise . . . except post-test Pizza to replenish the carbs and other minerals lost during the running on such a hot day! Maybe next time?
Here are some pictures of old and new team members taken during the exercise:
On September 2, 2015, Jim Lambert, well-respected New Jersey state Cross Country and Track analyst and reporter for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, named Cherokee as the favorite to win the Group IV championship this year!
His report: "GROUP 4- FAVORITE: There are (a) lot of great teams that have a shot at this, but the feeling is that Cherokee will grab its first title since 2007 and its 6th overall. Cherokee, third in S.J. Group 4 and 8th in Group 4 last year, has 6 of its top 7 returning. They are juniors Nick Falk, Jack Shea, and Brendan Falzone, sophomore Justin Kelly, and seniors Steve Gravlin and Mike Zurzolo. CONTENDERS: Cherry Hill East, Old Bridge, Millburn, Ridgewood, West Windsor-Plainboro South, Westfield, Ridge, Kingsway, South Brunswick, West Windsor-Plainsboro North." (Jim Lambert | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
There are two sides to this. On the one hand, it could be like the "cover curse" associated with Sports Illustrated where athletes or teams featured on the cover subsequently experience some very bad luck. Or, on the other hand, it could be just great to be "the favorite!" For example, Coach Shaklee was one of four children but, as his sisters frequently recall, he was always "Mom's favorite" . . . and see how well he turned out! At the very least, he is coaching what is expected to be the greatest team to ever run for Cherokee High School! How bad is that?! So, let's hear it for "the favorite!" . . . but don't tell Sports Illustrated . . . and don't tell Cherry Hill East!
UPDATE: On September 4, 2015, Mr. Lambert went out on another limb naming Cherokee the odds-on favorite to take 3rd in the entire state . . . one ahead of SJ powerhouse, Cherry Hill East! And while his predictions are flattering, the team knows it will be incredibly difficult, but definitely not impossible, to meet the numbers he has set!
NJ.MileSplit has a less flattering but probably more realistic examination of Cherokee's pre-season state ranking, basing their predictions largely on race results from last year and not Ouija (WeeGee) boards and other paranormal devices! They rank the Chiefs at 9th, behind CBA, Don Bosco, CH East, Old Bridge, Voorhees, Robbinsville, Colts Neck, and Millburn, with Haddonfield taking the 10th spot. It's a nice low-key place to be in the beginning -- before the racing spikes hit the ground -- but it will change significantly by the Shore Coaches Invitational in early October! GO CHEROKEE! Details at: State Ranking.
On September 12, 2015, the Cross Country coaches and team, and the team's parents and friends, hosted the 20th Annual Cherokee Challenge on campus, and welcomed over 2500 athletes to the meet! It was a great day and everything worked well, and several team members ran well too!
Everyone who understands cross country can look over the course and tell that "the trick" at the Cherokee Challenge is to get out fast . . . but runners have to remember to not go out too fast! It's a short 2-mile course with sharp turns and narrow trails in the first mile that allow the front-runners to break away while everyone else struggles to navigate the crowd and stay on their feet! Unfortunately for many, they go out insanely fast and "run out of gas" before the mile mark! The key is a controlled start -- fast enough to be "within striking distance" in the top 30 or so but not so fast that the last mile becomes a battle just to survive!
For Cherokee, Junior Jack Shea ran just such a "controlled race" and finished very fast over the last 800m, moving from 6th to a hair away from winning his race! Senior Mike Zurzolo also ran a very controlled race and moved up consistently from start to finish to place 23rd! Sophomores Justin Kelly and Brandon Marks both ran well in their race, placing 5th and 11th, while Junior Brendan Falzone improved on his performance from last year to get 24th in his race!
Cherokee's Freshmen were led by David Jackson who placed 31st in his race! Impressed, the coaches selected David as the Runner of the Meet for his focused, determined race execution! He kept moving up the entire race and came very close (missed by 1!) to medaling! GO DAVID!
Cherokee's top man, Nick Falk was recovering from a minor injury and did not race but his training is good at this time and he will compete in the up-coming Ocean County Park Invitational. In the merged results, Cherokee finished 4th out of 79 teams (2nd if you count only New Jersey teams) without running Nick!
A huge number of details including videos of each race at: NJ.MileSplit.
Did everyone thank the parents who volunteered so much for this meet?! #fatchance.
Pictures below start with some odd subjects. First, there's our assistant photographer who turned in more pictures of himself than of the award winners he was supposed to cover; then two runners who have their bro-shot "photobombed" by an unwitting passer-by; and then the coach who seems to think his runners are lost.
On September 16, 2015, the team traveled to Rowan University at Gloucester County for Batch Meet # 1, the first of only two that they will run this year. These meets are largely designed as opportunities for inexperienced runners to learn the sport. The coaches use them for that purpose and to give the more-experienced a different workout venue.
Following that thinking, the top varsity did a workout away from the race. The rest of the team was in the race, assigned modest "threshold" times to hit for the first mile with the expectation that they would improve their speeds through the remainder of the race.
The coaches selected Sophomore Joe Falk as the Runner of the Meet because of the way he picked-up his pace after the initial mile! GO JOE!
Details at: NJ.MileSplit
No pictures from this meet.
On September 18, 2015, the team traveled to Lakeland, NJ for the Battle at Ocean County Park. The plan: the top varsity runners would do a light work-out in the area (and do a harder one the following day at Holmdel Park, site of the State Championships) while the rest of the team would compete in the various class races at the Park.
Many of those who raced set some impressive times! In the Freshman race, all of our athletes ran faster than they did in the Cherokee Challenge with David Jackson medaling in 13th place while dropping 41 seconds! Mike Moraschi dropped 31 seconds; and Ty Ortiz and Shane Gordon dropped 19 seconds each! In the Sophomore race, Mike Iannotta just missed the medals, finishing 31st and dropped 16 seconds from his Frosh Cross Country PR; and in the Junior race, Cam Wilburn dropped almost THREE MINUTES from his previous best to place 33rd, with Dan Schwartz not far behind him (39th) in his first 5K! Other PR's were set by Mike Algarra (1:30 PR), Chris Monteleone (1:08 PR) and Pat Mahoney (10 sec PR)!
The coaches named Cam Wilburn the Runner of the Meet for his huge PR and his very focused race execution! GO CAM!
Details at: NJ.MileSplit.
Tough gig for the photographer -- unknown course, crazy bright sunlight and dark shadows, and no toilet paper in the Porta-Pot . . . old Army caution, know your poison ivy leaves!