Cherokee Cross Country Pictures, 2018, Page I

Pre-Season and Early Meets

Last year, we posted some remarks that drew many positive comments from coaches, team members and parents, so we decided to repeat those comments this year! If you read these comments last year and didn't "Step Up" and do your part on the team, this is your opportunity to do so this year!

Late June: Cross Country begins out your front door . . . now! Yes . . . really . . . now!

Now is the time for those easy runs on hot summer days just to get into it! Your body needs the slow build-up to perform well in the future, and your mind needs the habit of discipline necessary to become a great Cross Country runner!


Run on the hot days!

Run on the rainy days!

Run even if it snows!

Run on vacation!

Run before work!

Run after work!

Run when you really don't feel like it!


Run like a champion!

In addition, this is the time to generate the team spirit and togetherness that will carry you though the tough times! Don't run alone unless you're really stuck! Pick the guys who have incredibly positive attitudes, the ones who don't make excuses, and avoid those who do! The military does this well, whether you're Seal Team 6 or 1st Special Forces, you train as a team and no one lets down the team! Everyone is important in achieving the goal and no one slacks off! YOU are an important part of the team and you need to recognize that!

Remember, every time you put on your training shoes and go out for a run, and every time you put on your racing shoes and stand on a starting line: YOU are an important runner on the team, the team needs you, and what you do matters to the team!


Marlton Mayor's Cup 5K

On July 4, 2018, the team continued something of a tradition as they -- well, a small group of them -- showed-up for the Marlton Mayor's Cup 5K. The race is eleven years old and probably around that time the team started using it as a "fun run." Now, it serves as something of a "time trial" that allows the guys to judge their fitness and training, and provides a little competition among the runners to assert "bragging rights!" A number of Alums also show-up, sometimes to put the youngsters in their place -- last year Matt Mueller, '02, did a job on the high school guys! -- and sometimes just to say hello to friends and coaches.

This year, Cherokee's alums reportedly "held back" and allowed Junior Chris Spisak whack the field and take 1st by a big margin! He was followed by team members Ethan Wechsler, Chase Miller, Ty Jackson, Brett Shea, Aatish Gupta and Tyler Ortiz.

We also saw a number of Alums at the race -- Matt Mueller '02, Greg Malloy '10, Mike Zurzolo '16, Matt Smith '18, Evan Stone '09, Mike Candy '05, Shawn Wilson '13, Matt Powell '16, and Joe Thompson '17 (hiding somewhere!), and two parents, Joe Foley, from a long time ago, and Keith Jackson!

Official results available at: SJ Timing. Also, click the YouTube logo at the top left of their main page and see the finish line video! (There's humor here but you'll have to discover it yourselves!)

Here are a few pictures from the race:

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The New Yorker Provided A Helpful Camp Schedule And Staff Instructions

Separation-Anxiety Sleepaway Camp (altered slightly)

By Jesse Eisenberg

8:00 a.m. - Campers begin the day with an early call to Mom. Those campers who have wet the bed will have an opportunity to change clothes, or, if they prefer, they can remain in their soiled pajamas, as this may be comforting and remind them of home.

9:00 a.m. - Breakfast is served in the main dining hall though most campers will choose not to eat, because the orange juice here is not fresh-squeezed like Mom makes and this will freak them out. Those campers who boldly choose to eat will be given pancakes shaped like the first letters of their names, which will remind them of home and likely cause indigestion.

10:30 a.m. - Swim Time: Campers will swim for seven minutes in a shallow wading pool, with two lifeguards per camper. Campers will wear pre-inflated floaties on their arms and legs and around their necks. After swimming, each camper will have an opportunity to call his Mom to let her know that he has not drowned. If the camper has drowned, his mother will be notified by one of the camp's Counselors in Training, or C.I.T.s. The C.I.T.s will then have an opportunity to call their own mothers.

Noon - Lunchtime. Campers dig into the lunches that their mothers have meticulously prepared and FedExed overnight. Campers are encouraged not to read the enclosed notes until after their food is digested, which will be difficult, as the thought of the unread note just sitting there in the bag will be unsettling.

After lunch, campers have a twenty-minute reading period, in which they may read their notes from Mom. If a camper has not received a note from Mom, one of the Counsellors in Training, or C.I.T.s, will forge a note and pretend that it was lost in the refrigerator where the campers' lunches were stored. C.I.T.s will make sincere attempts to match Mom's handwriting, although complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

2:00-3:00 p.m. - Campers will be given a free period of one hour to explore the campgrounds, kayak on nearby Lake Canadensis, build a campfire, or write postcards to their Moms. Telephone calls to Mom are also possible during this time.

4:00 p.m. - We follow free period with an afternoon call to Mom. At this point, campers may also ask to speak to their fathers, but this is strictly optional. Most likely, Dad will not have time for the camper, or, if he does, he will probably just talk about how stressful work is or how well the camper's sister is doing at her sports camp. If Dad does get on the phone during this period, the camper will be allotted twenty additional minutes to debrief with Mom. Tissues provided.

5:30 p.m. - Campers may choose from a variety of electives, including Show and Tell, where they can present a relic from home to their fellow-campers, who probably will not be able to focus on something from someone else's life, since this requires a level of interest in others that campers do not possess during periods of great agitation. We are featuring a new elective this year, called Lamentation Period, in which campers may reflect privately on their relationship with their mothers and ponder the futility of life away from home. Fears about college can also be contemplated during this time.

7:00 p.m. - Dinner is served in the main dining hall. Though it is optional, campers may enjoy themselves briefly and, if desired, experience the slightest amount of relief that they are a few hours closer to going home than they were at breakfast.

9:00 p.m. - Lights-Out, unless a camper would like to stay up all night and call his Mom. If the camper chooses to sleep, but then has a nightmare, a call to Mom is allowed and even encouraged. If the camper chooses to sleep, but wakes up before his bunkmates, the camper may call his mother. If the camper chooses to sleep and makes it through the whole night without a call to Mom, he will be escorted home by one of the Counselors in Training, or C.I.T.s, to apologize to his mom for being aloof.

Note 1: Counselors in Training are drawn from a pool of campers' moms.

Note 2: These plans may be altered because of the lack of cell towers in the region! Be prepared to use flashing lights and smoke signals to contact campers' moms.

Additional, helpful information will be provided to campers by Coach Shaklee (temporary Grandfather figure) and Coach Thompson (temporary Father figure), and Coach Batz-Shaklee (temporary Older Sister) who stand "in loco parentis."

RunningWorks Cross Country Camp

Between August 13 and 19, 2017, a group of Chiefs attended the Nike-sponsored 20th Annual RunningWorks Cross Country Camp in Canadensis, Pennsylvania! As usual, there was a great group of coaches, college runners, and other high school runners to learn from and train with, as well as special guest speaker, NCAA Cross Country Champion Patrick Tiernan, and our own RunningWorks' Director, Olympian Marcus O'Sulivan!

Camp can be tough because of the two-a-day training schedule, the various classes and drills scheduled throughout the week, and the demanding social obligations that the campers take-on morning, afternoon and evening! Add to that this year's unusually hot, rainy and humid conditions and only the toughest survive with smiles on their faces! Check out the pictures below to see our Cherokee campers and their broad smiles throughout the week. If you want further details on the week, and an insane number of additional camp pictures, check out the RunningWorks website!

Question: Where were the Cherokee guys at the Talent Show, the Trivia Contest, and, except for Ty Jackson, at the Camp Social/Dance?!

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DyeStat National Rankings

On August 22nd, the nationally-recognized Cross Country and Track and Field website, announced their pre-season picks for the top teams in the Northeast Region and the Nation, and Cherokee made it to both lists!

In the Northeast Region, focusing on New Jersey, Christian Brothers Academy tops the list, with Haddonfield Memorial in 5th, and Cherokee, West Windsor-Plainsboro South, and Kingsway on their top-8 "watch list!" NE Region List.

In the Nation, again highlighting the New Jersey teams, Christian Brothers Academy is in 9th, Haddonfield Memorial in 29th, West Windsor-Plainsboro South in 45th, and Cherokee in 48th! National List.

Being ranked 48th nationally sounds very good to us! Of course, all of that was done before a single racing flat hit a course so best we remain level-headed about that ranking! ; < ) Still, to provide a little perspective, according to the US Department of Education, there are over 37,000 high schools in the country. If only half actually have Cross Country teams, 48th/18,500 ain't so bad! Be happy . . . for a bit and then get back to work!


Little hot out there?! Remember the snow early last Spring? Them's were the good old days!

Snow Feet Snow Trail

Los Capitanes

On September 4, 2018, the coaches announced the team captains for the 2018 season: Chase Miller, David Jackson and Ethan Wechsler! Que hombres! Felicitaciones!

Team Captains

Cherokee Challenge

On September 9, 2018, a lovely late-summer day, the team hosted the 23rd Annual Cherokee Challenge . . . wait, "a lovely late-summer day"? Were you there? A couple of inches of rain fell the day and night before the meet began and, while it slowed to a stop by the Senior races, it rained quite a bit through the early races and the course was a muddy, slippery mess throughout!

Despite the conditions, Coach Shaklee reported:

. . . "The team ran pretty well in our first outing of the year! The six Freshmen all ran better than they had in last week's time trial. Aiden Dickinson, in particular, had a strong race, finishing 43rd in a field of 408 runners! Nico Grilli ran very aggressively in the Sophomore race, leading from about the mile mark, and held on for a 2nd place finish in a field of 415! Brett Shea improved on his 19th place finish in the Frosh race last year with a 12th place showing, while Dylan Odud (35th) and Bryan Lafferty (51st) also finished higher this year than last!

Chris Spisak gave state-standout Liam Murphy, of Allentown HS, a good run for it in the Junior race, finishing a close 2nd with the 4th fastest time of the day (2nd out of the NJ runners)! Ethan Wechsler showed what a year of consistent training can do with his 4th place finish (after finishing 19th as a Sophomore), while Chase Miller also finished among the top 10 in the field of 430 with his 7th place showing! Senior captain, David Jackson, returned to competition after a lengthy absence due to injury and showed that he will be a factor for the team in the championship season, starting the year with a 24th place finish in the senior field of 329 runners.

When the results from all the races were merged into one, Cherokee came out on top by 2 points over Westfield High School, ranked 7th in the state in the MileSplit preseason poll. Although we have a lot of work to do, it is a good starting point for the season!"

The coaches selected Ethan Wechsler as the Runner of the Meet, highlighting his 4th place finish in his race and noting his improvement over last year's time, despite the awful conditions at race-time this year! GO ETHAN!

Further details, videos, etc., at NJ.MileSplit. Also, Reuben Frank, formerly of the Burlington County Times and now at Comcast Sports TV, writes a blog for the SJTCA and, on September 11th, he commented on Cherokee's merged results: Frank Blog: From the Backstretch. He gave the article three exclamation points so he must have been impressed! ; < )

Our photographer was super-busy trying to shoot every race AND keep his cameras dry! He took almost 3,000 pictures at the meet and he's working hard locating and editing his pictures of our Cherokee athletes. The following suggest just how difficult that can be! Can you identify these shy runners?!

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Here are some legitimate pictures from the meet! Probably the most dramatic are the first Freshmen pictures because they started in the heaviest rainfall of the day! Coming up from the Middle School course, our photographer got stuck in an unfortunate position but still caught some interesting shots! Gotta love those mudruns!

We start, however, with the unsung heroes of the day, the parents (captured only a few who have to represent the many!); and the two coaches . . . one appears a lot chipper than the other!

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SJTCA Coaches Poll

On September 12, 2018, the South Jersey Track Coaches Association selected Cherokee XC as the #2 team in South Jersey (after Haddonfield Memorial) in their first weekly poll! Coach Shaklee prefers to lay low and "sneak up" on the competition as the season progresses but the team's talent is too obvious to ignore! Let's hope the team continues to earn the respect it deserves throughout the season! GO CHIEFS!

The poll is available at: SJTCA Poll.

SJ XC Shootout

On September 13, 2018, our photographer was checking out the upcoming SJ XC Shootout on NJ.MileSplit and he came across some of his pictures from 2012! Recognize anyone?

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Suffern Invitational

On September 14 - 16, 2018, the team traveled to Bear Mountain State Park, in New York State just south of The United States Military Academy at West Point, for the Suffern Invitational and there they made a lasting impression!

Coach Shaklee had the following to say about the team's performance:

"The Freshmen started things off well with a 6th place finish in a field of 30 teams! Aiden Dickinson led the way in 29th place in the field of 283 runners! Lucas Hatch (38th) finished strong, catching ten runners in the final straight while Joe Natoli (50th) ran very well in his first cross country race, and Bradley Popler also had a good showing with his 57th place finish! Our 5th, 6th and 7th finishers - Matt Ambrose, Jameson Crozier and Kevin Hess all finished within 13 seconds of each other to secure the 6th place finish which was decided on the 6th man tiebreaker!

In the Junior Varsity race, Bobby Hackney, Dylan Odud and Tyler Jackson all ran very well to take the first three places and lead the team to a dominant victory with only 26 points! Had it been Cherokee versus the field, the Chiefs would still have won 26-29! Mike Moraschi(8th), Matt Campbell (12th), Bryan Lafferty (13th) and Tyler Ortiz (17th) gave us seven of the top 17 finishers to secure the win!

The Varsity race featured an outstanding individual victory by Chris Spisak who ended with the fastest time of the day out of all three Varsity races, running 15:39 on the difficult 3 mile layout! Ethan Wechsler (4th) and Chase Miller (9th) gave Cherokee three in the top 10! Brett Shea, Nico Grilli, Mike Gavio and David Jackson sealed the victory finishing within 6 seconds of each other in 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th!

There were many to choose from for Runner of the Meet but the two who stood out the most were Chris Spisak and Bobby Hackney who both led start-to-finish to win their respective races! It was a difficult choice but the coaches went with Bobby who was challenged by his own teammates throughout the race but stayed focused and determined as he held on to the wire! Congratulations to both Bobby and Chris on their outstanding victories!" GO BOBBY! GO CHRIS!

Further details, including videos of the races, at: NY.MileSplit. Also, Reuben Frank, the writer of the SJTCA Blog, commented on Cherokee's performance at Suffern: Frank Blog: From the Backstretch. He gave this article FIVE exclamation points so he must have been insanely impressed! ; < )

Caught these on Twitter, no doubt provided by the team's #1 iPhone photographer, Coach Thompson!

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Our photographer was unavailable but he downloaded the meet pictures from NY.MileSplit (with permission). The pictures are really low-resolution so not much can be done with them in "post-production" (PhotoShop), but we are dealing with the American version of Greek Gods so how bad can they be?! Apparently, the meet photographer hadn't warmed-up for the Freshman race and only two of our Freshman are available!

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