The State Championship Season: late-May through mid-June, 2013, when Cherokee's top athletes compete at the State Sectional Championships (May 24th - 25th, Egg Harbor Township High School) to qualify and move on to the State Group Championships (May 31st - June 1st, Egg Harbor Township High School) and the State Meet of Champions (June 5th, Jost Field, South Plainfield). Also included, comments from the Team Banquet (June 2nd, Cherokee High School)! GO CHEROKEE!
New Jersey State Sectional Championships
Cherokee's top performers traveled to Egg Harbor Township High School for two days of intense competition at the New Jersey State Sectional Championships hoping to win their events but, at the very least, to be among the top six finishers in an event and advance to the State Group Championships!
On Friday, May 24, 3013, the team arrived at Egg Harbor to find rain and strong, swirling winds, so no one was going to set any state records! Shawn Wilson had somewhat mixed results when he ran an aggressive 1600m only to be nipped at the finish line and forced to take 2nd. Still, his time marked him as the 3rd seed in the up-coming Group Championships! Also in the 1600m, Matt Decker won his heat with a determined kick to the finish line! Finally, on Friday, the 4 X 800m Relay team of Ty Kurzawa, Mike Hare, Rob Harper and James Transue ran their best time of the year -- and James, probably the fastest 400m of his life! -- to place 3rd and advance to Groups!
Saturday, May 25, 2013, though still very windy, was cool, sunny and dry, and a much better day for outdoor competition! In the 3200m Run, Shawn Wilson became the first to win back-to-back South Jersey Group 4 titles since Cherokee's Marc Pelerin '02 did it in 2001 and 2002! In addition, his time was the fastest run this year at any sectional competition around the state! In the 4 X 100m Relay, the team of Shawn Tracey, Duane Johnson, Ronnie Oxendyne and Matt Rhodes finished 2nd but was DQ'd because of a pass out of the zone! Tracey and Johnson came back to run well in the 200m Dash with Tracey taking 5th to advance to Groups and Johnson taking 7th and just missing his ticket to the Groups! Finally, in the 800m Run, Freddy Rasmussen ended his season and his high school career with another PR!
Details from both days at: MileSplit/NJRunners.
On May 29, 2013, Cherokee's distance group traveled to the Holmdel Twilight Meet, III at Holmdel High School for a last opportunity to set a PR for the season! Kaleb Burch finally got that PR in the 1600m, and Matt Decker, Freddy Rasmussen and JD Mintzer all ended their high school careers on positive notes with PRs in their final race! Steve Gravlin broke the "magical" 5-minute barrier in the 1600m for the first time; and James Transue knocked a couple of seconds off of his PR in a tune-up for the up-coming State Group Championship's 4 X 800m Relay. Noah Gil slipped under his old PR by a 1/2 a second, as did Jose Fraile. Carlo Lingesso cut over 4 seconds from his previous best and freshman 200/400 runner, Mike Zurzolo, running in his first ever 1600m race, ran well and finished strong, showing that he is ready to make the move up to the middle distance events next year!
Further details at: MileSplit/NJ Runners.
New Jersey State Group Championships
Last week at Sectionals, Shawn Wilson advanced in the 1600m and 3200m Runs; Tyler Kurzawa, Mike Hare, Rob Harper and James Transue advanced in the 4 X 800m Relay; and Shawn Tracey advanced in the 200m Dash! This week, in the New Jersey State Group Championships only the very best would move on to the New Jersey State Meet of Champions!
Unlike last week when the weather was exceptionally windy and cold for late May in New Jersey, this week, the weather was exceptionally windy and hot! The coach and Shawn Wilson decided to race only the 3200m with Shawn running tactically. He stayed with the group and sprinted a 59.8 last 400m to win the race by 2.5 seconds! As a result, Shawn advanced as the 1st seed to the New Jersey State Meet of Champions to be held in South Plainfield in a few days!
The 4 X 800 Relay team of Tyler Kurzawa, Mike Hare, Rob Harper and James Transue had a tough day, finishing 19th. Although it didn't end as they had hoped, the team had an outstanding season, earning Olympic Conference, American Division 1st Team honors and qualifying for the State Group Championships! Best of all, three of the four legs -- 2 sophomores and a Freshman -- return next year!
Shawn Tracey also had a rough day in the 200m Dash after his great race at Sectionals. Shawn got off a poor start which kept him from earning a qualifying spot for the Meet of Champions. The good news is, he'll be back next year for what should be a great senior season!
Details at: MileSplit/NJRunners.
Track and Field Team Banquet
Following past practice, the Track and Field team met for a final time on June 2, 2013 to review the season, celebrate the accomplishments of the team and team individuals, and to bid farewell to our graduating seniors. After a catered meal in the cafeteria, Coach Callinan recognized the graduating seniors; the Olympic Conference, American Division 1st and 2nd Team selections -- Shawn Wilson in the 800m Run; Tyler Kurzawa, Mike Hare, Rob Harper and James Transue in the 4 X 800m Relay; and Mike Conway in the Shot Put -- and then went on to the highlight of the evening, The Coaches' Awards.
The Coaches' Awards are the highest recognition our Cherokee athletes can receive because no one knows and appreciates the talents of the athletes more than the coaches themselves. They are selected not just because they were the fastest runners, the highest or longest jumpers, or the farthest throwers on the team. These factors are important but the coaches also consider their dedication to the team and its values, their leadership, character, self-discipline and self-motivation, sportsmanship, competitiveness, and persistence. Congratulations to the following athletes who were selected to receive the Coaches' Awards:
Shawn Wilson, Distance
Matt Rhodes, Jumps
Shawn Tracey, Sprints
Mike Conway, Throws
Mike Gallo, Hurdles
Best wishes to all our athletes and to their parents who gave so much so their sons could participate in the program! GO CHEROKEE!
New Jersey State Meet of Champions
Officially, last week's New Jersey State Group Championships determined the state champions in each event and Shawn Wilson, with his victory in the Group IV 3200m, became "champion." This meet, the New Jersey State Meet of Champions is a final opportunity that puts the six State Group Champions, and all of those who scored in the top six in the Group events, in a battle for the top bragging rights in the state. And, unlike previous weeks when it was either unseasonably cold or unseasonably hot, June 5th in South Plainfield was probably the best weather day for the Meet of CHampions in decades: sunny, only moderately warm, and practically no wind! Ideal for a great 3200m race . . . and a great one it was!
Shawn ran aggressively throughout the race but had to settle for 7th at the end. The state's greatest distance runners took off from the gun and didn't let up until they crossed the finish line! Shawn's time of 9:04.05 was the 2nd fastest in Cherokee and Burlington County history, behind only Marc Pelerin who set the record of 9:01.89 in 2002! It was Shawn's PR by almost 11 seconds! Also, to reinforce the idea that this was a truly unusual and competitive race, Shawn's time was the fastest 7th place finish in the history of the Meet of Champions and would have won 20 of 31 Meet of Champions' 3200's run since 1982 when the event was first contested (prior to that it was a 2 mile or 3K, and it was contested in bare feet and loin cloths . . . but that's another story)! Yikes! and WOW!
Reuben Frank, formerly the Sports Writer for the Burlington County Times and now at Comcast, wrote a blog entry, "From the Backstretch . . ." for the SJTCA that reflects Roob's signature sports-writing style: it's chock-full of interesting statistics that give perspective to Shawn's incredible senior year . . . it's available at: SJTCA Blog; or simply at: Sterling's Daniels, Cherokee's Wilson finish careers in style.
Good luck and good running to Shawn as he leaves Cherokee for the frozen fields of Syracuse University! GO SHAWN!
Details at: MileSplit/NJRunners.