Cherokee Track & Field Pictures, 2019, Page VII

The Championship Season . . . The "Bigs!"

The Championship Season is "what it's all about!" Months, maybe years of training, and it's all on the line! One misstep, one dropped baton, one unbalanced throw, one poorly-timed jump and it's all over! It begins with the South Jersey Group IV Sectional Championships at Washington Township High School where the top six in each event advance to the State Group IV Championships at Franklin High School, and, from there, the top six advance to the State Meet of Champions at Northern Burlington High School! In addition, at the Cherokee Night Racing #2 the coaches provide an opportunity for specialized sprint athletes to set qualifying times for the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, NC and distance athletes to both sharpen for the upcoming Group Championships and for others to end their seasons on a positive, perhaps PR, note!


South Jersey Group IV Sectional Championships

On May 26th - 27th, 2019, the team's top performers traveled to Washington Township High School for the two-day South Jersey Group IV Sectional Championships. Here they competed to finish in the top six in their event and advance to the State Group IV Championships the following week. . . an incredibly difficult challenge!

Lots of good stuff to report but also too many close misses and failures to advance -- Will Delendik in the 100 and 200; Tra Cabbagestalk in the Triple, and his incredibly close effort to go under 60 seconds in the 400IH; Mike Andes in the 400 . . . but more details, mostly good, later.

Coach Shaklee reported on his group: "The distance team contributed to the full team effort at Sectionals, scoring a total of 27 of the 43 points Cherokee scored to place 6th at the meet!

That effort was led by Ethan Wechsler who contributed eighteen points by himself with his 2nd place finish in the 1600m and his win in the 3200m! Over the last lap. Ethan kicked past the two favorites in the 1600m to take the silver! In the 3200m, his performance was even more impressive as he took over after three laps and pushed the pace, dropping the field to win by 8 seconds! In both races, his teammate, Chase Miller, also ran well, finishing 5th in the 1600m and 4th in the 3200m to contribute six points to the team effort! Bobby Hackney, Aatish Gupta, Nico Grilli and Tyler Jackson managed to secure 6th place in the 4 X 800m Relay and advance to the Group IV State Meet led by Nico's PR on leg 3 and Tyler's brave run on the anchor where he attempted to catch the field with a 53.2 first lap and still managed to hang on for a 1:58 split! Tyler also returned on Saturday to place 5th in the Open 800m and run the 2nd leg on the 4th place 4 X 400m Relay squad!"

Coach Kramer agreed with Coach Shaklee -- "It was a really good day for Cherokee!" -- and he provided further details!

"In the 100m, Will Delendik ran a season best and just missed a spot in the finals by one place; and then he came back in the 200m and set a PR by breaking 23 seconds for the first time! Trevor Tubb also clocked a PR in the 200m! In the 400, Mike Andes ran a very good race winning his heat but coming up just short of getting out in 7th place! In the 400m Hurdles, Tre Cabbagestalk ran a PR and only .01 seconds from breaking the 60 second barrier! The 4 X 100m Relay ran their best time of the season, going 43.79 and finishing 5th to move on to the Group 4 State Championship Meet next weekend! The 4 X 400m Relay team didn't run the cleanest of races but was still able to finish 4th, which earned them a spot at Groups as well!

Some great things happened in the Field events as well! In the High Jump, Joey Carroll and Andrew Elsey tied their season PR's! Jake Mesey had a PR in both the Shot and the Disc to close out his great season; and Chris Brandreth PR'd in the Triple Jump, crossing the 37' mark for the first time! The biggest highlight in the jumps was from Tre Cabbagestalk who had a 2-foot PR in the Triple Jump! He jumped 43' 3.5", just .75 of an inch away from the school record! That jump got him into the Finals and he was holding 6th place until another competitor jumped an inch farther than Tre to push him down to 7th. His jump was second in school history and the farthest since Steve Watson in 2006, and Tre was the first Cherokee jumper to make Finals in the Triple at Sectionals since Chris Steliga and Major Mobley in 2008!

The biggest highlight in the Field was in the Shot Put when star senior Luch Pizarro threw a PR and won the Sectional Championship with a throw of 56' 9.5"! In the competition, Luch fouled his first two throws and was in danger of not making the Finals and fouling out. In order to secure a spot in Finals, he performed a "stand throw" to guarantee he didn't foul again! In the Finals, Luch's first throw went about 53' and put him into the lead! Then his next throw was a big PR which put him in the lead for good, giving him Cherokee's First Sectional Title in the Shot Put in 20 years! The last title was won Gary Roskowski in 1999!

Next weekend at the State Group IV Championships, Cherokee will have all three Relays -- the 4 X 800, 4 X 100 and the 4 X 400 -- Ethan Wechsler and Chase Miller in both the 1600 and 3200; Ty Jackson in the 800; and Luch Pizarro in the Shot Put!"


Offical details at: NJ.MileSplit.

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New Jersey Group IV Championships

On May 31st and June 1st, 2019, team members who qualified at last week's SJ Sectional Championships traveled to Franklin Township High School to compete at the New Jersey State Group IV Championships! While we wait for those details and pictures to be processed, one piece of information came to our attention: During the meet, an athlete from another team spoke to Coach Shaklee: "My GRANDFATHER was at Drexel when you ran there!" GRANDFATHER?! Surely he meant "father?!" . . . Perhaps his grandfather was an Emeritus Professor at the time? Let's not be judgmental!

Headline from our Fashion Pages: "Two Chiefs Make Fashion Statements at Groups!"


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Coach Kramer was just a tad excited as he reviewed the performance of his thrower, Luch Pizarro, at States!

"Obviously, it was a huge day for Luch! Coming off a Sectional title and a PR, he was seeded second coming in, so a state title was within range! His first throw of the competition was a nice easy one of 54' which he knew would be enough to make the finals, so he decided to go for it on his next two throws! After the first round, Luch was in the lead but, before his second throw, another competitor overtook him for the lead! Luch just decided to 'put one out there' and get the lead back! He did that and more with a huge throw of 58' 6"! That was a near two foot PR and beat the 20-year old school record of Gary Roskowski (57' 4.25") by over a foot! But Luch wasn't done yet -- and that new school record lasted all of one throw -- because, on his last attempt in the Trials, Luch bombed an incredible throw of 59' 9"! In the Finals, a couple of throwers got close but no one came within a foot of Luch's! He became Cherokee's first Group 4 State Champion in the Shot Put! He broke the school record by over 2 feet and PR'd by three feet! Reviewing all of the Group results in the Shot, Luch is currently the state leader and he hopes to add a Meet of Champions victory to his collection! Beyond that, he also qualified for Nationals and expects to compete there in two weeks!"

Luch was interviewed by NJ.MileSplit and that video is available at: Pizarro Group Interview.

In his 'From the Backstretch' Blog, dated June 5th, 2019, Sports Writer Reuben Frank reported on Luch's performance! Mr. Frank's informative article is also available on our server: Cherokee senior Lucciano Pizarro's astonishing improvement carried him to state title and # 1 seed in Meet of Champions!!!!!! Yes, Mr. Frank followed his headline with an unheard of SIX exclamation points . . the REALLY BIG TIME! What happens if he wins the Meet of Champions . . . SEVEN . . . EIGHT . . .TEN?!

Coach Shaklee reported no private interviews with the "Track and Field Power Elite" at NJ.MleSplit but he was very pleased with the performances of his distance squad!

"On Friday, Ethan Wechsler got things going with a strong 1600, taking 6th in an incredibly loaded field of talented runners! Ethan set a new PR by three seconds with his time of 4:15.52 and moved to # 4 on the All-Time Cherokee 1600 List, behind Shawn Wilson (4:11.69 in 2013), Marc Pelerin (4:11.86 in 2002) and Steve Burkholder (4:15.49 in 2010)! His time also broke Wilson's Cherokee Junior Class Record of 4:18.50!

The 4 X 800 Relay team of Mike Andes, Bobby Hackney, Nico Grilli and Tyler Jackson ran their fastest time of the year by five seconds to finish 11th. Nico ran the lone PR of the group with is 2:02.6 on the 3rd leg!

On Saturday, Ethan Wechsler doubled back in the 3200 with Chase Miller running fresh. The hope was that someone would take the race out and Ethan could relax for the first half. Unfortunately, no one took it and the pace was slow through three laps until Ethan went to the lead. He was able to pull away from everyone other than the West Windsor-Plainsboro South runner who stuck with him and beat him off the last turn, forcing Ethan to settle for 2nd. Behind him, Chase was running his best race of the year! He came into the meet as the 21st seed and ran a tactically perfect race to finish 4th with a new PR and his first sub 9:30 clocking!

Later on Saturday, Tyler Jackson doubled back from his 4 X 8 leg on Friday with an impressive 10th place finish in the 800, advancing to the Meet of Champions. Tyler's time of 1:56.53 moved him to # 13 on the All-Time Cherokee List! But Tyler wasn't done! [After he changed into his third uniform of the meet!] . . . He came back an hour later to record a 50.9 split on the 4 X 400!"

Further details from the Sprint coaches soon! Official meet details at: NJ.MileSplit.

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Cherokee Night Racing # 2

On June 3, 2019, Cherokee hosted a final racing opportunity, the Cherokee Night Racing # 2 to allow individuals to compete under ideal racing conditions -- relatively cool with low humidity -- and set new PR's and perhaps qualify for the up-coming Nationals in North Carolina.

Once again, Coach Shaklee reported another successful outing for the distance team!

"Of the thirteen Cherokee athletes who competed, eight came away with new personal records! Aatish Gupta and Mike Moraschi both ended their high school track careers in style, setting new PR's in the 800! Not far behind them was Bryan Lafferty who broke 2:20 for the first time and did so by almost 5 seconds!

In the 1600, Tyler Jackson moved himself onto the Cherokee All-Time List at # 15 with his six second PR and a 3rd place finish! Right behind him, Chase Miller took 4th with a season best and a time just a couple of tics off his PR! Sophomore, Nico Grilli dropped six seconds off his previous best to make the Cherokee All-Time List at # 26! Mike Gavio and Brett Shea took one and two seconds, respectively, off their previous best times, and Freshman, Bradley Popler, took a few tics off his previous best!"

Further details from the Sprint coaches soon!

Official results at: NJ.MileSplit.

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New Jersey State Meet of Champions

On June 8, 2019, three of the four Cherokee athletes -- Chase Miller attended a wedding -- who qualified at Sectionals traveled to Northern Burlington County Regional High School for the New Jersey State Meet of Champions and one came home with the ultimate prize!

Coach Shaklee took two of the qualifiers, Ty Jackson and Ethan Wechsler, who competed in the 800m and 3200m respectively. "Tyler Jackson used a strong last 150 to finish 3rd in his heat and 11th overall in the 800, equaling his time from the group states. He was the 2nd finisher from SJ, beating the South Jersey Group 4 Sectional Champion in the process! In the 3200m, Ethan Wechsler survived a difficult first mile - which found him in lane 2 for most of it (adding about 30 meters to his race) - to hang on for 11th overall, 3rd from South Jersey! Ethan finished just in front of the winner of the Indoor Meet of Champions! While his tactics were less than perfect and his time was not his best, in typical Wechsler fashion, he still kept his head in it and made a decent race out of one that could have gone terribly wrong! Both Ethan and Tyler acquitted themselves well in the biggest meet of the year! They also both gained valuable experience at that level that will help them next year!"

The REALLY BIG story of the day came from the Field side of the meet! Lucciano Picarro, winner at the SJ Sectional Championships and the #1 seed going into the MOC, continued his winning ways by throwing another record-breaking "bomb" in his final throw of the meet! Coach Kramer will continue that story in detail but Sportswriter Reuben Frank in his 'From the Backstretch' Blog, dated June 9th, 2019, summarized the main details and added a historical background to Luch's superb performance! Mr. Frank's informative article is also available on our server: Cherokee's Lucciano Pizarro continues mind-blowing breakthrough season with M-of-C shot put title, 60-foot bomb!!!!! You've probably already noticed that Mr. Frank punctuated his headline with only FIVE exclamation points when, just last week, he used SIX exclamation points to headline his Group Championship headline. Yeah, we know! Luch wins Group 4 and gets SIX exclamation points but then, after he beats all the Group State champions -- like the whole world! -- he gets only FIVE! Maybe it was a typographical error? . . . let's give him the benefit of the doubt . . ..

Coach Kramer was asked to review the throw-by-throw details of the event:

"Yes, Saturday was a very good day! Luch was the #1 seed coming into the meet so, obviously, he had a target on his back! But he has been on a roll lately, throwing PR's in three straight meets, so he was confident!"

To start the competition, Luch made a conservative throw to make sure he made it to the Finals: his throw went well-out there at 57' 1"! His next couple throws in the Trials did not improve on his first, and his competition heated up! After Trials, he sat in 4th place, but the top thrower was good! He was the first in the state to crack 60' and he did it in this competition, a throw of 60' 0.5"! So Luch had a lot of work to do!

His first throw in the Finals -- his 4th of the day -- wasn't a good one. His 5th throw of the day was an improvement, throwing 57' 9.5" and moving him into second place! When he came up for his final throw, he had been bumped to third place! In his last throw of the day, he put everything together and launched a BOMB 60" 11"! Several throwers behind him tried to beat that but they failed, giving Luch a PR in his 4th straight meet and the ultimate champion's title in the NJ Meet of Champions!

It's a stunning achievement! Luch is the only Cherokee athlete to win in the Meet Of Champions since Marc Pelerin in 2001. His 60' 11" throw was the farthest Shot Put in the state this year! It broke the School and District record that he set only a week before; it is the #2 throw in Burlington County history and 14th in South Jersey history! Finally, Luch is only the 7th South Jersey Shot Putter to win the Meet of Champions!"

Really! What an achievement! Almost Hollywood: the last throw in the last meet of the year . . . wins the Meet of Champions! Sounds like one of those 1930s movies, starring Mickey Rooney, where the hero steps up and wins the day! . . . yeah, Mickey Rooney! You never heard of Mickey Rooney?! Geeze.

Luch was interviewed by NJ.MileSplit and that video is available at: Pizarro MOC Interview.

Official results and many stories on the meet at: NJ.MileSplit.


SJTCA Track and Field Awards Banquet

On June 12, 2019, the South Jersey Track Coaches Association invited all the 2019 season's award winners to Auletto's Ballroom for the presentation of their "All-South Jersey Team." Among them was Cherokee's champion Shot Putter, Luch Pizarro!

Luch was recognized for two achievements: his extraordinary performance at the NJ State Meet of Champions where he launched the farthest Shot Put throw in the state this year; and as a selected member of the 2019 All-South Jersey Team!

Luch, along with Ethan Wechsler, will compete at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, NC this coming weekend! GO LUCH! GO ETHAN!

The entire All-South Jersey Team is listed here on the SJTCA website.

Coach Kramer sent the following pictures of a wildly-excited Luch to record the evening: : < )

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Team Awards Dinner

On June 13, 2019, the team, coaches, parents and friends met at school to enjoy a meal together while reviewing the accomplishments of the season and bidding farewell to our graduating seniors.

The team highlight from the season was the winning of the Olympic Conference's American Division! The details are already on this website but, suffice it to say, it was a complete team victory with all parts of the team contributing! That said, once again, Cherokee was sad to see the district canceled the "District Cup" competition among the four district schools. While we're sure that had nothing to do with the fact that Cherokee won the Cup eight of the ten years it was contested, the competition among the district's schools was an enjoyable part of seasons' past!

(Thanks to Coach Kramer for the evening's pictures!)

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Individual recognition went to the Team Captains, who shouldered many of the coaches' responsibilities throughout the season: Luch Pizarro, Tyler Ortiz, David Jackson and Aatish Gupta! Also recognized were those receiving the Super Chief Award, those with a 3.5 GPA or higher: Jack Vick, Jake Mesey, Trevor Tubb and Chase Miller! Following that, those who were recognized by the school as Athletes of the Week: Tyler Jackson; Luch Pizarro, Andrew Elsey, Ethan Wechsler, Mike Andes and Trevor Tubb!

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Competition awards went to Luch Pizarro who dominated the Shot Put, first in South Jersey, and then the entire state; and to the Olympic Conference All-Stars who dominated there and in other meets this season:





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Every knowledgeable sportsman knows that the Coaches' MVP Awards are by far the most important awards of the season because they are given by people who really know the athletes and know the most-deserving of all! They were selected not simply 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. This year, the coaches identified four categories: "Track" to represent those who competed on the track; "Field" to represent those who competed off the track in the Jumps and Throws; a special "Chief" award to recognize the "Unsung Hero," the athlete who contributed so much more than people think and see and represent those who contribute and quietly put Cherokee Track and Field where it is today; and a special "Coaches" award to recognize a truly committed leader who is responsible, admired by his teammates, and a strong contributor to the team both on and off the track! Congratulations to the following athletes who were selected to receive these awards:



That said, thanks to Coaches Petruzzi, Shaklee, Kramer and Thompson for their dedication and expertise this season; and special thanks to Cherokee's Athletic Director, Mr. Scott Agnew, who appreciates the sport and the work it involves much more than most AD's; and to the parents who worked the concession stand at meets, managed the operation of several meets, catered the Awards Dinner, and for all the help they gave the team and coaches this season!

Best wishes to all our athletes! We sincerely thank our graduating seniors for their work, leadership and performances, and we hope to see them soon, competing at the next level! Also, we look forward to seeing our undergraduates return even stronger next year to continue the exceptional history of Cherokee Track and Field!

GO CHEROKEE!!!!!!!!!! ; < )

Post-Season: New Balance Nationals Outdoor

On June 15, 2019, Luch Pizarra and Ethan Wechsler competed in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro, North Carolina! As expected the competition was insane and, while both of Cherokee's top performers went all out, neither excelled in their events. In the Shot Put, Luch had to throw beyond his PR in the State Meet of Champions to even advance and, while trying to do that, he failed to make a single legal throw! In the Two Mile, Ethan had much the same problem and he too failed to even match his season's PR!

Mike Monostra of the SJ Sports Weekly, a group associated with The Sun Newspapers, including The Marlton Sun, wrote a comment on Luch's year on June 21, 2019. The picture and the article are available at: The Sun Newspapers. To insure it is available in the future, the article can also be found on our server: Monostra on Pizarro.

Pizarro with medals

Meet website at: New Balance Nationals. Further details at: North Carolina MileSplit.

There are pictures on both the New Balance and North Carolina MileSplit sites. Unfortunately, neither show Luch but there are four of Ethan from NC.Milesplit:

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Post-Season: Salute to Seniors, Ethan Wechsler of Cherokee

On June 19, 2019, Robert Kellert of NJ.MileSplit, posted an interview with Ethan Wechsler at NJ.MileSplit. A copy of the interview is also available on our server at: Salute to Seniors: Ethan Wechsler.

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