Cherokee Cross Country Pictures, 2023, Page I

Pre-Season and Early Meets

In previous years, we posted some remarks that drew many positive comments from coaches, team members and parents, so we decided to repeat those comments, following what was a monumentally successful year, the Group 4 State Championship! If you read those 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! Don't run behind someone on the runs because that's what you've always done! Get up front and set the pace! 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!



~~ The Summer of Our Repeat! ~~

OK, that title may be a bit premature but why not?! We've got the talent, we've got the coaching, we've got the guys who have experienced and enjoy winning, and we've got the guys who are willing to work for it!

It begins NOW, and then, a long time from now, it ends at Nationals! Prepare this summer by doing the physical and mental foundation-work necessary to reach that ambitious goal! GO CHEROKEE!

~~ Marlton Fourth of July 5K ~~

Following a long tradition, Cherokee alums, current Cross Country athletes and some parents entered the Marlton Mayor's Cup 5K to restore old friendships, to race against each other for "bragging rights," and to encourage some early summer training!

Year after year, Cherokee Alums like Pelerin, Wilson, Mueller, Spisak, Schickling, Somers and record-holder Jack Shea dominated the finish line and this year was no exception! The number of Cherokee Alums racing this year was respectable and Mike Zurzolo '17 and Ethan Wechsler '19 dominated by taking 1st and 2nd in the race!

Unfortunately, the number of current Cross Country athletes racing this year was smaller than ever before, only three that we saw, Liam Deimler, Sam Wright and Josh Lowery . . . even a member of the Track team, a Cross Country wanna-be, was there: soccer player, Liam McCloskey! Our Alums and these guys kept our photographer busy but it was no way like "the old days!" For those who showed and raced, yes, it was hot, humid and hard! Congratulations to our team members! Now don't let yourselves down by slacking! Build on your strength! GO CHIEFS!

For those team members who were away on vacation, we hope you had a great time and, if you went to the Jersey shore, we hope you swam in front of the guards and avoided the sharks . . . and we also hope you did your workout because that's what team members do! GO CHIEFS!

For those who just stayed in bed because it was hot, humid or just downright inconvenient, remember when the team asks you to "step-up" this Fall and you can't . . . remember . . .

. . . "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 what you do matters to the team!"

Race details and video finish at: Results. As usual, there are additional pictures of our athletes and our Alums on the District's Google site!

Marlton 5K Marlton 5K Marlton 5K Marlton 5K Marlton 5K Marlton 5K

~~ The Ed Grant Awards ~~

On July 7th, 2023, NJ.MileSplit introduced the first of a yearly series of awards for athletes with the top-performing seasons during the past school year, the 2022-2023 Ed Grant Award.

This inaugural year, a committee of writers and coaches selected the award-winners. In addition to the Top Performers, the committee announced a number of Cross Country Finalists that included two of Cherokee's finest:

Patrick Ditmars, SR, Cherokee

Nick Kuenkel, JR, Cherokee


For an excellent article on Mr. Grant, this award and our award-winners at the bottom of Track, July, 2023.

~~ It's hot out there! ~~

It was hot on your run and you did a lot of sweating! Combat the water and mineral loss by mixing three: water, light food, and a commercial SPORTS drink. Don't drown yourself in water and SPORTS drink because it takes time for the body to absorb both, especially on an empty stomach! You can lower your body temperature quickly by hosing yourself off! (If it's cold well water, like up at the RunningWorks Camp, it'll definitely cool you off!) Another point: eat something - a granola bar, fruit - soon after exercising - or most of that water/SPORTS drink will end up in the toilet! Back in 2019, Time Magazine addressed this directly! Check it out: it's worth reading! Staying Hydrated.

Now, in 2023, medical experts stress two ways to improve your training and your performances: (1) Don't train on an empty stomach! Practice "mindful eating!" Eat something light about 30 minutes before you run (banana, apple, yogurt, granola bar, etc.). Test this on your own on practice days, not race days! (2) Drink SPORTS drinks and NOT ENERGY drinks! Good SPORTS drinks contain needed electrolytes and vitamins. Use for recovery from runs, not as a regular juice or breakfast drink! NEVER drink so-called ENERGY drinks! They contain "huge" amounts of caffeine, sugar, and other "eye-openers" that raise blood pressure, cause irregular heart rhythms, headaches, dental issues, and, especially, SLEEP problems!

While mentioning Sleep Problems, consider these ideas: You "need" 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day but puberty and hormonal changes shift your internal clock, prompting you to stay up at night and wake up later in the morning. As a result, teenagers are sleep deprived, especially during the school year! Solutions? (1) Limit screen time in the hour before sleep: Phone, Gaming, TV and Internet; (2) Avoid worries at sleep time: focus time to plan schedule, assignments, due dates, and other concerns long before sleep time and plan possible solutions long before bed; (3) Avoid stimulation 1/2 hr before bed time: wind down, seek soothing activity, no exercises, no engrossing TV, no phone scrolling, do a puzzle, play solitaire; (4) No caffeine up to 10 hours before sleep time: getting sleepy too early? . . . quick, 1/2 hr nap; walk the dog, take a quick shower; (5) Insomnia, persistent inability to fall asleep: see doctor, don't self-medicate with medicines like Melatonin; (6) Talk to common-sense friends and the Coach who have all experienced much the same problem; how have they addressed the issue? Essentially, it's very tough when so much is happening to you and during your teenage years, including XC, and these ideas are suggestions on how you might just "chill out" and, hopefully, sleep well!

Illustration: Cross Country team member who sleeps well and drinks mostly water and Sports drink while training . . . is that Matteo? ... Bobby? . . . Liam? . . . Tate?! Nah, none of those guys! Looks like our photographer, doesn't it?! Well. maybe with a wig?!

Training pic

~~ The South Jersey Track Coaches Association All-South Jersey Track and Field Awards ~~

On July 27th, 2023, the South Jersey Track Coaches Association announced the All-South Jersey Track and Field Award winners for the 2023 Track and Field Season and the four Cherokee members of the State Championship 4 X 800m Relay Team were recognized!

Senior Graduates Conor Jacobs and Patrick Ditmars, and now-Seniors Nick Kuenkel and Bobby Poplau were acknowledged at a ceremony in nearby Haddonfield High School, though only Patrick was available to accept the $1,000 checks awarded by the Association. We're sure he passed the checks along to the other award-winners and they appreciate the recognition that came with them! GO CHEROKEE!

The list of award winners is available at: SJTCA All-SJ

Our photographer was unavailable for the evening but Coach Shaklee made an effort to capture the event with his trusty iPhone!


~~ Practice at Cherokee Cross Country ~~

On August 3rd, 2023, Cherokee's top photographer, and stringer for NJ.MileSplit and Fox Sports . . .

MileSplit Hat Fox Sports Hat

. . . pulled out of his garage hoping to locate and photograph some of the elite Cross Country runners in South Jersey! With his GPS working like a hound dog and his patented "locator device" warming up, he soon found himself on the campus of Cherokee High School, surrounded by some of the best in South Jersey!

Stud Finder

Cherokee's photographer got to work and, with groups and individuals flying all around him, he soon had over 250 pictures from which to draw! It was a fine morning of running and the coach, athletes and the photographer should be very pleased at what they accomplished! Some of the pictures are posted below, and they and a bunch of others are available at the District's Google site! Make sure you thank him for his effort in general and perhaps for a particular picture yuu liked or didn't like! He'll try to improve even more in the future as you do!

The pictures can be kinda fun but the best part about a hard practice is having it over and feeling that you really accomplished something important! Be happy and proud of yourselves! Go home and BTN! (That's Bathe, Twinkies, Nap! Don't tell Shak or you'll have to sit for a 1/2 hour "training talk" on healthy diet!)

XC Hero of the Day: Rory Carroll! While we seriously appreciate the parents who provide rides for their runners and others to and from school on practice and meet days, we need to give special props to Rory who paid $10 to Lyft to get to practice FIRST this morning! YOU GO, RORY! That said, in the future, let's plan ahead and, when it looks like you won't have a ride, bum one from a nearby team member! : < ) YOU GO! RORY!


Tip For the Day: Unless you're going through a minefield, Step lively, don't look down at the ground!


Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

~~ NJ.MileSplit's Boys Returning Holmdel Park Individual and Team Rankings For 2023 ~~

Back in July, when MileSplit was shifting over from the final Track, 2023 coverage to their earliest Cross Country, 2023 coverage, the computerized lists began to appear. One of the earliest was Boys Holmdel Park Returners For 2023.

Don't get too nutty if you see your name high or low on the list! MileSplit took the top 500 times run at Holmdel last year, early in the season or late, and made a list. Without listing all the possible flaws here, suffice it to say, you are very different than you were last year, both physically and mentally!

Nick and Bobby are high on the list, 2nd and 15th, and MileSplit devoted two paragraphs to Nick's 2022 campaign:

". . . Second on this list is Nick Kuenkel of Cherokee HS, the top returner from the 2022 NJSIAA Meet of Champions as well, with his 4th place finish of 15:41. Kuenkel was part of that 1-2 punch, along with now graduated teammate Patrick Ditmars, leading a strong Cherokee squad last fall.

During his 2022 junior year campaign Kuenkel won five races including the Varsity A Shore Coaches race, 15:56, a Burlington County Open title, 15:52 at Mill Creek Park, and a South Group 4 Sectional title, 15:23 at Dream Park."

Again, don't get nutty as you check out where you are among the Top 500 boys finishers from last year!

Also in July, MileSplit rattled the computers again and produced the Boys Returning Holmdel Park Team Rankings For 2023. Their method was essentially the same as when they created the Top Individual's list: best time at Holmdel in 2022 for each person on the team and create a potential "team" for 2023. Their Cherokee "team" came in 6th overall behind CBA, Union Catholic, Westfield, Summit and Ridge. Again, there are so many possible flaws here that, while we'll look it over for the fun of it, we'll wait until the dust clears at Shore Coaches before we suggest anything firm!

Check out their team list at Team Rankings.

~~ RunningWorks Cross Country Camp ~~

On Sunday, August 13th, dozens of RunningWorks Administrators and Counselors filtered into Camp Canadensis in the Poconos to prepare the camp for the hundreds of Middle School and High School athletes who, beginning the following day, would train and learn for the upcoming Cross Country season . . . and lessons for life as well! Among those athletes were sixteen of "Cherokee's finest" continuing their preparation as well!

Camp is a great opportunity for training and for learning some new running "stuff," but it's also a great place for team bonding, for meeting others who may be just as excited about winning cross country championships as Cherokee was (and did!) last year, for coping with the elements at times; and for playing different games, piloting kayaks and canoes on the lake, winning the fishing tournament, swimming in several pools, challenging the world in Ga GA, and just doing some crazy things and having fun! If all of that didn't happen to you, then you failed to take advantage and you messed-up big time!

For the first time in the camp's 20+ year existence, our team photographer and site editor was unavailable to attend because he was distracted by other opportunities -- his version of handicapped golf -- on his way to camp! Maybe next year?

Par 3

. . . But there were two photographers there who provided hundreds of pictures of camp life, and some included our Cherokee runners! Our photographer skimmed through the pictures grabbing any that showed our guys -- actually he hasn't even met all of those who went to camp! -- and edited and saved many of them! His favorite action shot, and the only one showing one of our top runners in action, is below! Way to find that camera, BP!


Originally, the camp photographers provided about 500 pictures on the Flickr website and then, in the dark of the night, another 1000+ appeared! Yikes! Of them, only a few more Cherokee boyos could be found! Below are a selected number of their pictures, edited by our photographer, and they and the rest (all higher-resolution versions) are on the District's Google site!


Day 1 RW Camp RW Camp RW Camp RW Camp
Day 1 RW Camp RW Camp RW Camp RW Camp

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