By now, even Cherokee's beginners should know how to deal with "race day." One key "rule:" plan to be early for everything! (BTW, that's not a bad "rule" for your entire life!) The coach will tell you when to be at school and you must plan on how long it will take you get out of bed, bathe, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, etc. and get to school on time! If the bus leaves at a certain time and you're not there, the bus will leave without you (and the coach and the team will hold a grudge against you because you're important to the team)! The second "rule" is to chat with others about their pre-race plans! It's amazing what the more experienced runners know!
The night before, you prep by eating a normal meal that stresses carbohydrates but not "carbohydrate loading" . . . load nothing! -- maybe some spaghetti with marinara sauce, a salad, some bread, maybe a few pieces of pizza, a reasonable dessert -- but don't pig out! Hydrate! Before bed, put your kit together: everything you imagine you'll need to be ready to race. Just in case, don't depend on the coach for anything: bring water, recovery bars, snacks, pins, etc. Check the weather and, if it's cool, consider "layering' because you can always remove extra layers but, if you don't have them and need them, you're out of luck! If rain is in the forecast, pack for it: don't be one of those losers who spends a rainy day in a wet t-shirt and shorts because he planned badly!
Sleep well! That's up to 8 hours and, when the bus leaves at 7:30 AM, it ain't easy getting there when you go to bed at 1:00 AM!
The morning of the race, breakfast should be timed properly and light: you never want to get to a starting line with a full or an empty stomach! If hours early, have a normal breakfast -- normal, not 3 Egg McMuffins! If you're up a little later but still hours before race time, maybe a bagel with jelly, cream cheese, a piece of fruit . . ..
At the course, learn the course THAT DAY! Yes, you may have been there before but changes happen and sometimes overnight. Focus on your race and not your opponents. Plan your race: have a decent start but don't try to be first at the 400m mark (no medals there!); work hills but don't sprint up the hills; take advantage of the downhills; on serpentine courses try to leave your opponents behind at every turn; RACE the course and don't just cover the miles; RACE THROUGH the finish line and don't get passed at the last moment, etc.
In the race, be tough but have fun! At the start, you'll be somewhat nervous, the adrenalin will be flowing, but you should be anticipating great things! Have confidence! You've been working really hard and now is the time to show others how you've improved . . . how really good you are! Enjoy it!
That said, if things aren't going as you expected, don't lose faith! Don't look at runners who may be pulling ahead, maybe far ahead of you, and lose faith in yourself! Instead, break the race down into smaller pieces: make it you against the three guys within 20 meters of you and pass them! Then look at the next three guys and go after them! Don't get depressed and quit! Keep your focus: you're RACING! You may not be in the top 10, 20 or 50 but you're still RACING to the finish! (And, just an aside, when our photographer takes your picture sometime during the race don't let him see a whipped dog . . . head up, arms swinging, knees lifting! RACE! ; < )
Afterwards, go home, look in that mirror again and be able to say, that's a champion in the making!
GO CHEROKEE! GO CHIEFS!
On September 10th, 2022, the team hosted the 26th Annual Cherokee Challenge and many wondered where the team was hiding. Quite a few were nursing injuries and Coach Shaklee saved them for the upcoming 5K at Ocean County Park. Several others demonstrated the work they did through the summer and ran well while others . . . well, not so hot!
Coach Shaklee sent the following report on the guys' performances:
"The 26th annual Cherokee Challenge found the home team running with only 20 of the 36 team members. The missing included four of the team's top returners: Nick Kuenkel, Conor Jacob, Bobby Poplau and Tommy Bromley. Many of those who did run, however, showed some nice improvement from last year!
"Things got going for the team in the Freshman race where only one Cherokee runner was competing, Logan Bromley. With less than a half mile to go, Logan was not in the top 30 (around 37th-38th) and out of the medals. Over the final 700 meters, he made a dramatic move and passed about 20 runners to finish in 17th place! Clearly Logan can run a lot faster and we look forward to seeing what he can do at the Ocean County Park meet this week!
"The Sophomore race was next and six of the ten Cherokee runners were racing this for the second year while four were running their first Cherokee Challenge. All six of the returners - Liam Tindall, Anthony DiBatista, Ben Weiner, Enzo Corona, Tate Midora and Tyler Newton - showed sizable improvements. Liam, Anthony, Ben and Enzo were the team's 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th fastest on the day and improved by 1:29, 3:13, 1:59 and 1:32 respectively! In addition, Tate improved by :52 and Tyler by 2:31!
"The Juniors were next and Andrew Free was the team's top junior class finisher in 39th. The junior with the biggest improvement from last year was Myron Paes. After finishing 197th in last year's sophomore race in 15:05, this year he placed 120th in the junior race in 12:33!
"The Senior race was highlighted by Patrick Ditmars' victory in 9:43, an improvement of 24 seconds over his Junior class victory at last year's race! Patrick followed the race plan to perfection, going with the lead pack, covering the big move made with 3/4 of a mile to go and then making a move of his own in the last 400 to secure a 5-second win with the second fastest time of the day! Both Ethan Weisenberg and Nick Campbell made substantial improvements from last year. Ethan improved from 189th in last year's Junior race in 13:02 to 108th this year in 11:43! Nick placed 286th last year in 15:06 and 183rd this year in 12:39!
"The Athlete of the Meet was a tough call. Although Patrick's winning effort was given strong consideration, the coaches went with Anthony DiBatista's huge improvement in the Sophomore race. The Sophomore trio of Anthony, Ben Weiner and Liam Tindall have all trained so well, so consistently, that all of them deserve a ton of credit! They have absolutely earned their improvement! Of the three, Anthony's 3:13-second jump from one year to the next was the most impressive! For that, Anthony is our Athlete of the Meet!" GO ANTHONY!
Some photographs are here and all on the District's Google site.
Over-the-Top details at: NJ.MileSplit.
On September 14th, 2022, the team traveled to Moorestown High School for the Olympic Conference's Batch Meet # 1, the first of several early this season. With the Battle at Ocean County Park scheduled in two days, instead of actually racing, Coach Shaklee asked his athletes to run specific, comfortable paces designed to engage their systems but not to stress them. Race day is Friday! GO CHEROKEE!
Our photographer lives nearby and he enjoyed the comfortable walk across the golf course from his house to the course. He took some pictures and tried some unusual locations on the course -- that said, he'll never again try shooting the race in the woods on a bright, sunny day! -- and here are some samples. These and others are posted on the District's Google site!
The first picture is by professional photographer, Jon Falk, and cropped/sized for content and fit. Thank you, Mr. Falk!
On September 17th, 2022, the team traveled to Lakewood, NJ for the Battle at Ocean County Park and came home with a number of high level awards! Below, Coach Shaklee reports on the team but, before that, an official asked us to ID the individual who competed with an unusual "mask?!" Halloween? Stealth mode?
Coach Shaklee sent the following report:
"On Friday, September 16th, the team traveled to Lakewood to compete in the Battle at Ocean County Park, like the Cherokee Challenge, a class race set-up.
"In the Freshman race, Logan Bromley, still dealing with some tendonitis in his knee, wasn't sure how things would go. He need not have worried! Not only did he finish the race but came in 6th overall out of 185 runners! Luke Ehly, running in his first cross country race beat 100 runners across the line to take 85th place in the race!
"Liam Tindall led the team to victory in the Sophomore race with his 4th place finish in the field of 214 runners, and a new 5k PR of 16:43! Liam not only broke 17:00 for the first time but also claimed the family 5K record! Behind Liam, Anthony DiBatista continued his exceptional season with a 10th place finish in 17:15! Anthonys time was almost two minutes faster than his previous PR set last year at the Haddonfield Frosh/JV Meet! The three other scorers for the team were Ben Weiner (16th in 17:30 - over a two minute PR!), Enzo Corona (20th in 17:38 - over a minute PR!) and Tate Midora (55th in 19:14)! In addition to those five, Tyler Newton knocked 51 seconds off of his previous 5K PR! As a team, the Sophomores scored 74 points to take the win by 15 points over runner-up, St. Peters Prep after finishing second in the freshman race last year!
"Not to be outdone, the Juniors took the victory in their race as well, scoring 72 points, six less than runner-up, Monroe Township. With 195 runners in the field, Nick Kuenkel came out on top, taking the individual title in a very fast 15:30, a full 26 seconds ahead of the second place finisher! Nick's time was the third fastest of the day and run without any real competition! Bobby Poplau was the team's second finisher in sixth place with a new 5K PR! Andrew Free (25th in 17:24), Matteo Evola (31st in 17:41 in his first race of any kind since last November!) and Luke Reistle (38th in 18:07) were the other scorers for Cherokee! In addition, Silas Matteson (50th in 18:33 but mysteriously missing from the results) and Myron Paes (79th in 19:14) both set new 5K PRs!
"Finally, in the Senior race, with 172 competitors, Patrick Ditmars placed first in a tough race that came down to a sprint at the finish! Patrick not only won, but recorded the day's fastest time of 15:20 to win by a second over Lucas Requinho of Elizabeth! Other Personal Records were recorded by Ethan Weisenberg (17:59.5 for 58th) and Nick Campbell (18:58 for 83rd)! In addition, first year cross country runner, Brett Yagiello, recorded a surprisingly good time of 18:24 for 70th in his first ever 5K race!
"While we clearly have more work to do to prepare for the championship season, this was a really positive step in the right direction!"
Again faced with multiple runners who deserve the Athlete of the Meet award, the coaches selected Ethan Weisenberg for the honor! As Coach Shaklee wrote, "Like last week's Athlete of the Meet, Anthony DiBatista, Ethan Weisenberg is another great example of what consistent, hard work can do! As a sophomore, Ethan's best 5K was 21:51. Last year he knocked that all the way down to 18:46! This year he is starting off with a 46-second PR and will surely run faster later in the season! His time at Ocean County Park this year is 84 seconds faster than last year. Ethan always follows the training program and always records his runs in Strava. He has dealt with injury over the years and he is as dedicated in his rehab efforts as he is in his running. Through his example, Ethan is a true team leader!"
Meet details at: NJ.MileSplit. The website did a merge of the meet's 69 teams and it showed Cherokee took 2nd overall (behind Ridge) and ranked Cherokee as 7th in the state (after a pre-season ranking of 9th). Their Athlete of the Week voting showed Patrick Ditmars receiving 1% of the voting . . . thanks Mom!
In their first edition ranking the South Jersey teams, the SJ Track Coaches Association ranked Cherokee 2nd after Haddonfield.
Reuben Frank of Comcast and NBC Sports, continues to write his blog for the SJTCA and he noted the running of Patrick and Nick at OCP: SJ Track Blog. A copy of Mr. Franks' article is on our server at: Frank 62.
On September 19th, the New Jersey XC/TF Coaches Association named Patrick Ditmars and Nick Kuenkle two of seven selected Performers of the Week in Cross Country! Details at: NJXCTFCA.
Courses that loop can be deadly to the photographer as he is encouraged to shoot far more pictures than he should! Here are a few of his pictures and the rest (including a few from Mr. Falk who was there on a personal assignment) are posted on the District's Google site!
On September 20th, 2022, a small part of the team traveled to DREAM Park in Gloucester County for Batch Meet # 2 and, once again, Coach Shaklee had special instructions for the runners: run at tempo speed (slower than Threshold) for the first 2 miles and then run at race pace to the finish line.
Our photographer shot the meet and, as usual, here are a few. Some others are available on the District's Google site. The last four pictures were selected from a bunch that Mr Falk (on a personal assignment) shot.
Details at: NJ.MileSplit
Obviously, NJ.MileSplit didn't see Cherokee's stellar results from Batch Meet # 2 when they dropped the team's ranking from 7th to 9th in their Week 2 Update! ; < ) Check out: NJ.MileSplit.
In the first week of voting for the Athlete of the Week, Patrick Ditmars amassed 1% of the vote for his performance at the Cherokee Challenge (thanks, Mom!) and, in the second week of voting, Patrick made the candidate list again and amassed 3% of the vote for his performance at OCP (thanks Mom, Dad, Uncles Jerry, Joe and John, Aunts Mary, Gertrude and Alice, and some Freshman guy at Woodbury HS who "liked his flowing hair"). See NJ.MileSplit
In their 1st voting on Team Rankings, the coaches at the South Jersey Track Coaches Association, listed Cherokee as 2nd behind Haddonfield but in their 3rd voting, Cherokee was ranked 1st ahead of Haddonfield (not sure how the Ditmars did this)! Obviously, someone saw the results of Batch Meet # 2 and Haddonfield's "weak" performance last weekend : < ) and voted appropriately! That, or NASA'a recent missile strike on an outer space asteroid caused a disturbance in the atmosphere . . . whatever. For a good laugh, check it out at: SJTCA.