The Late Spring Season is a time of continuing preparation for the upcoming state championship meets at the end of the season! Maintaining focus, gradually improving speed, strength, endurance, and skills are the keys to success! It continues with the Burlington County Championship; the Cherokee Invitational (Novice Meet); the Olympic Conference Championship; Holmdel's 'Night of 1600s'; and the Haddonfield Distance Night!
On a beautiful May 11, 2019, the team returned to Rancocas Valley High School for competition at the Burlington County Championships!
Assistant Coach Shaklee reported on the performances of his Distance Squad:
"The 3200 didn't go as well as we had hoped. Mike Gavio had been sick with a cold for a few days but tried to race anyway and faded to 5th in a race he would have won if healthy. Nico Grilli had a decent race but lost contact with the top two shortly after the mile and finished in 3rd. Matt Campbell acquitted himself well in his first championship race! Despite getting pulled out too fast, Matt hung on to finish in a respectable 10th place!
Bobby Hackney and Aatish Gupta both had strong races in the 800m! Running in the 2nd heat, Bobby took the lead from the start and led the entire way, finishing with a new PR (by the slimmest of margins)! His time held up for 7th overall in the field of 27 athletes! Aatish, ran a very strong 2nd lap to finish 2nd in the heat and 11th overall with a new PR by about 1 second! Brett Shea, like Mike Gavio, came into the meet sick and struggled in his race.
The 1600m was a four-man affair with Ethan Wechsler, Chase Miller and Ty Jackson competing against Austin Gabay of Cinnaminson, with everyone else well in arrears. Ty made an aggressive mistake by taking the first 300m out at an extremely quick pace before Ethan took over the lead. Ethan led from that point pretty much until the last 100m when Gabay passed him. To his credit, he did not give in and he caught Gabay down the homestretch, easing in front for a few steps, before Gabay got him on a lean at the line! His time was technically a 1600 PR, though his converted mile time from indoors is faster. Chase finished 3rd with a strong effort and a season best, while Ty paid the price for his overly aggressive start but still managed to take 4th in the field of 34!"
In his 'From the Backstretch' Blog, dated May 13th, 2019, Sports Writer Reuben Frank reported on the race and, highly unusual for him, he made two errors: (1) he mistook Tyler Jackson for David Jackson, no doubt because of the twin-like characteristics of both runners; and (2) he made a big deal about Ethan dropping quite a bit from his previous PR in the 1600m (Indoor Sectionals) when his converted time from another Indoor race (mentioned by Coach Shaklee above) was much closer. Mr. Frank's article is copied on our server: Austin Gabay edges Ethan Wechsler in epic Burlington County Open 1,600 battle!!!!!. Yes, FIVE exclamation points . . . the BIG time!
Coach Kramer was . . . let's say . . . underwhelmed by the performances of his Throwers. Team leader Luch Pizarro threw well enough but not near his best and finished 2nd in the Shot Put competition. Senior Jake Mesey had the lone PR in all the Throws competition: he put the shot 38' 10.5"! That done, the coach and his athletes are looking forward to the up-coming Conference Championships to show what they can do!
Further team details soon. Official results and race videos: NJ.MileSplit.
On May 11 - 12, 2019, Cherokee's best traveled to Washington Township High School for the two-day Olympic Conference Championships and came home the Division Champions!
Coach Petruzzi expressed his admiration for "the boys, their determination, their competitive drive, their will to win, and their focus from start to finish on this two-day championship event!" He went on to list Cherokee's 1st and 2nd Team All-Conference Award winners (see below)!
Assistant Coach Shaklee added some details on his Distance Squad:
"It was a good meet overall for the team. Cherokee finished with 141.5 points to win the American Division and almost double the score of runner-up, Eastern High School at 72!
The distance squad did their share and had some pretty good performances! On Day 1, Ethan Wechsler and Chase Miller placed 1st and 4th overall and 1st and 2nd in the Division in the 1600, running nice times on a day that was cold, overcast and windy! In a second big race, the 4 X 800 team of Bobby Hackney, Aatish Gupta, Nico Grilli and Tyler Jackson ran very well to win the championship! Nico set a new PR, as did Tyler who ran a very gutsy race, going out very quickly and then holding off Bishop Eustace's ace, Connor Melko, down the homestretch!
On Day 2, Tyler Jackson came back to run a similarly gutsy race in the Open 800m to take the win! He went out hard and, although he was feeling the effects of the previous day's work, came back strong down the homestretch to win by less than 1/10 of a second! Not only that, he also ran a 51.3 split on the 4 X 400 team which finished 2nd overall and 1st in the Division! Bobby Hackney ran his best race yet to finish 6th overall in the 800m with a 2.4 second PR! In the 3200m, Ethan Wechsler led practically from the gun and held the lead the entire way while Chase Miller finished 3rd!"
Assistant Coach Kramer was also very happy with his guys, though Day 1 was a little shaky!
"The Throwers had an up and down couple of days at Conference. Starting in the Disc on Day 1, Luch Pizarro did not have his best day but was still picked-up 3rd place points for the team! Day 2 turned out to be a lot better! In the Javelin, Nathan Chang gutted out a 4th place finish; and, in the Shot Put, all three Throwers PR'd! Darien Massimino threw 35' 0.5 for an outdoor PR! Jake Mesey threw 42' 10", a 4-foot PR; and Luch Pizarro came back from his rough day on Tuesday to launch a big throw of 56" 3"! That won the meet and gave him the 1st team All-Conference Award! He also moved to # 7 in the state and closer and closer to the school record!"
Coach Kramer also supplied some details on others in the meet. "Will Delendik and Andrew Elsey picked-up 2nd and 3rd in the 100m Dash! Mike Andes stumbled coming out of the blocks in the 400m Dash but still managed to take 2nd in the event; and then he went on and picked-up a win in the 200m! Tre Cabbagestalk PR'd in the High Hurdles, breaking 16 seconds for the first time and finished 2nd! Another Hurdler, Joey Carroll finished 5th and PR'd, breaking 17 for the first time! In the 400mIH, Joey Carroll, Tyler Ortiz, and Tre Cabbagestalk swept the event, with Joey setting another PR (so-o-o close to sub-60)!
The 4 X 100m Relay team of Tre Cabbagestalk, Mike Andes, Will Delendik and Andrew Elsey clocked their best time of the season and finished 2nd! The 4 X 400m Relay also ran their best time of the season with all four guys -- Andrew Elsey, Ty Jackson, Ty Ortiz and Mike Andes running fantastic splits and taking 1st in the process! In the Field, Andrew Elsey took 2nd in the High Jump and Joey Carroll finished 5th with a PR (he PR'd in three events!) jump of 5' 8"! Zach Palfy tied his PR of 10' 6" in the Pole Vault and that was good enough for 5th place points! Finally, in the Triple Jump, Tre Cabbagestalk won in a tiebreaker by 1 inch! Tyler Ortiz finished with 5th place points, and Chris Brandreth jumped another PR!
Overall, it was a really great effort from the guys across the board, a real team effort! They 'showed-up' and competed hard in every event and it was great to see them having fun while doing it.
Cherokee dominated the American Division with the final score being: Cherokee - 141.5; Eastern - 72; Cherry Hill East - 66.5; Lenape - 55; and Washington Township- 38."
Official results at: NJ.MileSplit.
Our photographer bagged the pictures from dark Day 1 because they stink . . . long story . . . but here are some from Day 2, including three from the Javelin area provided by Cherokee parent, Mr. Andrew King.
On May 16, 2019, a half-dozen or so members of the Distance Team traveled to Holmdel High School for the The Royal Rumble: Holmdel's Night of 1600's, an evening entirely devoted to pure distance racing at its best!
There were a number of good Cherokee races but perhaps the most memorable occurrence of the evening was when the announcer's strong voice came over the loud-speaker declaring, "That's Bradley Popler from Cherokee in 2nd!" WOW . . . Dude . . . the big time! We're told Bradley signed autographs after his race! GO BRADLEY! ; < )
Coach Shaklee reported the following: "Of the ten who raced, seven set new PR's! In Heat 6, Jameson Crozier and Bradley Popler both set huge PR's to place 2nd and 5th in their heat! Dom Gazzara knocked a couple more seconds off his previous best to place 8th in his heat despite getting pulled out too fast for the first 400! Matt Campbell not only PR'd but broke 5:00 for the first time in Heat 13! Mike Moraschi knocked four seconds off of his PR, finishing 3rd in Heat 14, with Bryan Lafferty just missing his PR while coming in 8th in the same heat! Nico Grilli had the team's best time of the night, setting a new PR to finish 8th in Heat 18, despite having his shoe come untied in the first lap (gotta work on some basic knot skills!). Mike Gavio also set a new PR in the same heat!"
No question about it, putting themselves among the top competitors in the state brings out the best in them!
Official results at: NJ.MileSplit.
On May 17, 2019, Cherokee hosted the postponed-from-Monday Cherokee Invitational, The Novice Meet at home. Originally, the meet was the only local opportunity for Track athletes who were unlikely to make it to the upcoming Sectional meets to end their seasons on a positive note at a well-organized, competitive meet. Today, there are others available but the Cherokee Invite is still the biggest and the best! Once again, what seemed like a hundred billion athletes from 32 teams raced, jumped and threw for hours but, this time, the meet was shortened by thunderstorms and lightening in the area.
Distance Coach Shaklee made a brief statement about his guys: "Matt Campbell, Bryan Lafferty, Dom Gazzara, Jameson Crozier and Bradley Popler all came back the day after the Holmdel Meet to run the 800m at the meet! All five set PR's with Matt Campbell taking the biggest chunk off of his previous best (5 seconds) to finish 17th in the field of 88 runners!"
Coach Kramer was impressed by what he saw from his Throwers! He first mentioned all the help he received from the Throwers as they actually ran the Throws part of the meet! Then he reported, "In the Shot, Brad Craton, Max Fisher, Phil Quipot and Justin Miller all threw PR's! In the Discus, Phil Quipot threw his second PR of the day; and in the Javelin, Chris Chin, Dalton Salerno and Brian Stillwagon all had PR's! It was a great way for the Throwers to end their seasons!"
Coach Kramer also highlighted the performance of Denny Sweeney in the Pole Vault as he cleared 8' 6" before the meet was canceled because of the rain! That was more than a foot higher than his previous PR!
Our photographer was unavailable for this meet. The official results are available at: NJ.MileSplit. Also, there is a Cherokee "team page" that lists all of the team's performances at the meet: NJ.MileSplit, Cherokee page.
On May 20, 2019, a good part of the Distance Squad traveled to Haddonfield High School for the Haddonfield Distance Night, an event that showcases some of the finest South Jersey runners in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m! Typically, however, as Sectionals are this weekend, the best athletes run distances shorter than what they expect to run at Sectionals as a "sharpening" experience. In addition, the meet is usually the last great opportunity for sub-Varsity runners to step-up "big time" and make their final "statement run" of the year!
Coach Shaklee identified a number of good performances at the meet:
"Lucas Hatch set a new PR and placed 5th in the Freshman 800, dipping under 2:10 for the first time!
In the highly competitive 800m event, Ty Jackson and Ethan Wechsler both set new PR's and moved to # 15 and # 17 on the All-Time Cherokee List! Other 800 PR's were set by Chase Miller, Mike Andes and Nico Grilli. Andes, a Senior who first joined the team this Spring, ran the first 800m of his short career and closed well to record an excellent debut effort!
Dom Gazzara ran a very strong, competitive race in the Freshman 1600m to finish 6th and drop his PR by 7 seconds! He is rapidly closing in on the illustrious Sub-5 Freshman club!
In the 1600's, PR's were recorded by Bobby Hackney, Matt Campbell and Christian Bennett. Christian actually dropped almost a half-a-minute off of his previous best!"
Official results at: NJ.MileSplit.