As in years past, during "Winter" or "Indoor" Track, Cherokee focuses on preparing for the Spring season. Coaches concentrate on base and strength training for the distance athletes, and skills and conditioning for the sprinters, jumpers and throwers. Even so, the team participates in a number of meets -- some of which are not reported here -- for both experience and a change of pace.
Through December, the "winter" weather here in New Jersey has been unusually mild, with the temperatures reaching into the 50s, and that allowed the team to train in "some comfort" and to enjoy an unofficial outdoor scrimmage meet with other District schools! That's not likely to continue, however, as the weather cools and the competition heats up!
South Jersey Throw Down, Meet # 1
On December 21, 2010, Cherokee hosted the first of a series of meets for the Shot Putters of the region, The South Jersey Throw Down, Meet # 1. In it, Junior Mike Conway threw a PR of over 40' in the Shot! Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 1
On December 29, 2011, Cherokee runners opened their indoor season by traveling to the Bennett Center in Toms River, NJ for the first in a series of meets sponsored by the SJTCA: The South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 1. Senior Sprinters John Barr and Brandon Rapp got the team off to a good start with their 4th and 5th place finishes in the 55m Dash, the two of them separated by only .01 seconds! Colin Merrigan, coming off a couple of sick days, did well in the 800m Run, taking 2nd in the event! And, in the 200m Dash, Mike Bisicchia ran his first indoor track race and finished just .01 seconds behind Senior Matt Jackson!
Cherokee also stood out in two later running events! In the 3200m Run, Shawn Wilson easily outclassed the field over the final four laps and took 1st, while Aiden Lynch held-off a charging runner from Egg Harbor to take 2nd! And in the last event, the Sprint Medley Relay, the team of Ross Staudt, John Barr, Brandon Rapp and Drew Viscidy took 1st by only .30 seconds ahead of a strong team from Egg Harbor!
Finally, in the Shot Put, Mike Conway tied for 5th and Brandon McCleese took 8th!
Complete results at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
It seems bright enough to take good pictures at "The Bubble" but, for photographers not allowed to use flash, it's the "Dark hole of Calcutta!" Here are some overworked PhotoShopped pictures of Cherokee's racers:
South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 2
On January 4, 2012, Cherokee braved the coldest night of the year so far to travel to the Bennett Center in Toms River for the South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 2. There, several individuals and relay teams did pretty darn well!
Before commenting of results, however, one "start" deserves mention. Someone has to ask Colin Merrigan about the start in the Distance Medley Relay, and ask him to explain why the kid from Hammonton High School was able to "blow his doors off?!" Before that, you might show him the following picture where the kid is two steps off the line before Colin even heard the gun! Yikes!
Alright, enough of that. Onto the results! After that curious start of the Distance Medley Relay, Colin Merrigan maintained a strong pace in the 1200m leg, handing-off the baton in 2nd to Drew Viscidy who clocked an Indoor PR and quickly moved the team to 1st place in the 400m leg! After that, it was just too easy for Ross Staudt in the 800m leg, and Shawn Wilson in the 1600m, as they kept well ahead of their closest rivals and took 1st in the event! In the Open 400m Dash, Cherokee's top sprinters, Brandon Rapp and John Barr took 1st and 3rd, with Rapp clocking a Indoor PR; and in the Open 1600m Run, distance man Matt Venanzi took 2nd in event! Finally, in the Sprint Medley Relay, seeded in the second heat, the team of John Barr, Brandon Rapp, Eli Connor and Mike Lowinger took a fast 1st in the heat but finished 7th overall in the event! Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
Haddonfield Warm-Winter-Day Invitational, # 1
On January 6, 2012, several Cherokee athletes traveled to Haddonfield for the Haddonfield Warm-Winter-Day Invitational, # 1 and they were surprised to see the fraternal twin of Cherokee's Shawn Wilson, his brother Jose, competing for his winter home, Belize! As you can see, Jose is both better looking and more athletic than his American brother because, he says, he plays soccer . . .!
Overheard conversation: "Where's Belize?" . . . "Somewhere in Central Africa." . . . "Oh."
Distance highlights include Matt Decker's win in the 1600m while clocking an almost-PR time; and Kaleb Burch's 2nd place in the same race, breaking 5:00 for the first time! In addition, Jeremy Morgan also dipped under 5:00, and Phillip-Robert Cerria dropped 10 seconds from his time at Seneca two weeks ago to come within 3 seconds of his PR from last spring! In the 2nd heat, James Transue held on after a crazy fast start -- out 2 seconds faster through the 400m than the seeded heat! -- and PR'd by a lot to get 4th in the heat! Finally, Zach LoPresti dropped over 20 seconds from his time at Seneca; and freshman, Cameron Rabinowitz, in his first high school race, ran well enough to finish right behind Zach!
It was a first opportunity for many of the sprinters to race the 400m so there were numerous PR's! Highlights included the performances by new runners Shawn Tracey and Mike Bisicchia, and strong early season efforts by returning runners Mike Hare and Matt Jackson.
Here are some pictures of Cherokee athletes competing in the meet:
South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 3
On January 9, 2012, Cherokee traveled to the Bennett Center for the South Jersey Track Coaches Association, Meet # 3, and this time they hoped to set some fast times for seeding in the upcoming New Jersey State Relay Championships! The night began well with the 4 X 800m Relay team of Ross Staudt, Drew Viscidy, Mike Lowinger and Shawn Wilson taking 1st and setting a nice PR for the season! The night also ended well with the 4 X 400m Relay team of Brandon Rapp, John Barr, Colin Merrigan and Drew Viscidy taking 2nd and again setting a nice PR for the season! In between those two events, however, not so hot . . ..
The 4 X 200m Relay team of Brandon Rapp, John Barr, Colin Merrigan and Eli Conner took 6th in a very fast heat; Matt Venanzi and Brandon Illagan took 8th and 14th in the Open 800m; and several younger guys -- Mike Gallo, Jack Chen, and the not-so-young Eric Mudge -- got to try some new events as they prepare for the Spring season. Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
NJSIAA Winter Track Relay GP IV Championships
On January 13, 2012 -- yes, Friday, the 13th -- Cherokee traveled to the Bennett Center in Toms River with high hopes to win the 47th Annual NJSIAA Winter Track Relay GP IV Championships but, true to its name, Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for the team! Despite incredible efforts -- some record-breaking -- by many members of the team, who doubled and tripled to win the title, they had to settle for what was for them a disappointing 3rd place!
The Distance Medley Relay started things off well! Matt Venanzi struggled through the middle section of the 1200m but finished strong to give Cherokee a chance as he handed off in about 8th place. Brandon Rapp got the team back in the hunt with a great 400 leg (50.9), Ross Staudt kept things going with a very strong 800m leg of 2:01.0 and gave Shawn Wilson the stick in 4th place. Shawn PR'd by 6 seconds, running 4:22 to grab 3rd, missing 2nd by only 1.5 seconds. Their time of 10:35.93 was the fastest indoor DMR by a Cherokee team since the Pelerin-anchored team set the school indoor record of 10:16 eleven years ago!
Later, the 4 X 800m Relay team of Colin Merrigan, Drew Viscidy, Ross Staudt and Shawn Wilson became the highlight of the meet! Cherokee came in as the second seed behind a powerful Westfield squad and it became a two-team battle for the win! Colin put Cherokee right at the front, along with Westfield, with his excellent 2:01 lead-off leg; Drew moved the team into the lead by running 2:02 on the second leg. Ross, doubling back from the DMR, ran another great leg, just under 2:02, to keep Cherokee in the lead; and Shawn took it out hard and held on for a PR 1:59 split to bring the team home in front at 8:04.33, a new All-Group State Relay record!
The team was really excited about their prospects in the Sprint Medley Relay but their effort was ruined by a Hackensack runner who interfered in the race (and was DQ'd). Cherokee was in the 6th of seven heats and leading, thanks to a nice 400m start by Brandon Rapp and a very strong 2nd leg (200) by John Barr! In the second 200 leg, Drew Viscidy was holding off the Hackensack runner around the far turn when the runner cut in and tripped him. Drew got back up but he lost four seconds and a lot of motivation! Shawn Wilson, in his 3rd race of the evening, did his best to make it up but, after going out too fast, he couldn't quite hold on over the last lap -- although he still managed a 2:01! Cherokee finished 3rd in the heat and 9th overall but only 3.9 seconds out of 2nd place. Without the fall, the team would have had eight more points and stayed in the team hunt!
Although no longer in the hunt for the team title, the 4 X 400m Relay squad of Drew Viscidy, John Barr, Brandon Rapp and Colin Merrigan ran tough races even though they had been at the Bennett Center for eight hours and everyone was on their 2nd or 3rd event! All four guys ran pretty even splits with Brandon's 3rd leg -- on his 3rd carry of the day -- being the fastest! Cherokee finished 3rd in the event.
In the Shot Put, both Brandon McCleese and Mike Conway had good tosses to finish 11th out of 38 teams. Brandon set an indoor PR of 44' 1.75" and Mike set an over-all PR 40' 11.5"!
Looking back, there were many "coulda, woulda, shoulda" arguments -- a little faster on this leg or that, not getting tripped in the SMR, maybe Merrigan with a shorter haircut, etc. -- that would have had Cherokee at least finishing in a tie with Trenton Central but, as it turned out, the team scored a very respectable 22 points and took 3rd behind Trenton Central and West Orange!
Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
South Jersey Throw Down, Meet # 2
On January 19, 2011, Cherokee hosted the second of a series of meets for the Shot Putters of the region, The South Jersey Throw Down, Meet # 2. In the Varsity competition, Senior Brandon McCleese took 5th with a throw of 41' 9.75"; and Junior Mike Conway took 8th, throwing 40' 3.25". Further details at: NJRunners/MileSplit.
On January 21, 2012, for the first time in Winter Track history, the team was divided into three segments, each going to a separate meet . . . some to the Lavino Relays at The Lawrenceville School; some to the Olympic Conference Championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River; and some to the New Balance Games at the Armory in New York City! Everthing was planned for except the two or three inches of snow and ice that caused the school district to cancel transportation for all sports' teams! Life goes on but let the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" argumens begin! Results from all these meets can be found on the pages of NJRunners/MileSplit. And, while you're looking around, you might check to see what our own Alums did this weekend on the Cherokee Alums 2011 - 2012.
Olympic Conference, Meet #1
On January 26, 2012, Cherokee used the Olympic Conference, Meet #1 at the Bennett Center largely as a training opportunity for younger runners and for those trying different events. Highlights include several newcomers' performances: Shawn Tracey's PR's in the 55m Dash and the 400m Run; Mike Bisicchia's PR in the 400m Dash; and Cameron Rabinowitz' seven second PR in the 1600! And, in the vault, Eric Mudge tied his seasonal PR and is looking forward to a new overall PR soon! Check out the results at NJRunners/MileSplit and the following pictures: