The State Group Championships were held at Holmdel Park on November 16th, a truly nasty day for running: windy, rainy, and about 45 degrees. In the Group IV competition, Keith Krieger had a great race: only eight others have ever run faster on the course, and Krieger's time was only 2 seconds off the school record set by Marc Pelerin last year. Unfortunately, once again, after leading through most of the race, he was overtaken by Pete Hess of Toms River North at the finish line. Hess finished in 15:44.8 while Kreiger finished just behind him in 15:45.8.
The rest of the team did well too, all running PR's. Sean McLaughlin had a "breakthrough" race finishing in 11th place at 16:37.2, only the 10th Cherokee runner to ever go under 17:00 and the fastest Sophomore of the day. Sophomore Tom Yersak finished in 28th place at 17:03.5; Junior Nick Freeman finished in 41st at 17:13.6; Freshman Greg Bredeck took 42nd in 17:16.4, and was the fastest Freshman of the day; Sophomore Mike Candy took 44th in 17:19.3; and Sophomore Drew Dellamonica took 50th in 17:26.5. Overall, the Chiefs took 3rd place behind Toms River North and Hunterdon Central.
This meet is variously depicted as the top individual championship of the year, or as the "All-Group Meet," suggesting that it is the top team race of the year. Whatever your perspective, it is often a weaker race than the previous week's Group Championships because many runners have peaked too soon or because the excitement of the previous week has depleated them, leaving them unprepared to do battle again. This was not the case with Cherokee's top runner, Keith Krieger but it may have affected the younger runners on the team. Krieger ran yet another extraordinary race only to have his victory "stolen" once again at the finish line. This time, instead of Pete Hess coming on to beat him, a new runner, Mohamed Khadraoui, accomplished the task. Krieger, running 15:48.85, finished less than a second behind Khadraoui's 15:47.92. The rest of the team could not match the times they ran the previous week and they finished 6th overall.
This is the premier meet of the Cross Country season here in the Northeast. The top athletes from New England and the Middle Atlantic states converge on Van Cortlandt Park in New York City to run the 3K course and to qualify for the Nationals in California. This year on November 30th, Coach Shaklee entered Keith Kreiger in the Championship race; Sean McLaughlin, Tom Yersak, Mike Candy and James Maneval in the Sophomore race; and Greg Bredeck in the Freshman race.
Keith ran an excellent race, finishing in 12th place at 15:55.6. Unfortunately, only the top seven runners qualify for the Nationals. In the Sophomore race, McLaughlin took 2nd in 16:59; Yersak took 5th in 17:09; Candy took 11th in 17:19; and Maneval, who had been out of training with a viral infection for several weeks, took 71st place in 18:37
Greg Bredeck did a great piece of running in the Freshman race, taking 1st place in 17:15. Doing so, he became the first Freshman champion in school history!
Coaches Shaklee and Callinan recognized the accomplishments of the entire team in their Coaches' Message. This section is meant to briefly summarize those accomplishments.