Early March: it's still cold but we focus on a concentrated training period until our first meet in April! New guys "learn the ropes" and hope not to embarrass themselves, older guys "buckle down," improve in every way possible and hope not to embarrass themselves! ; < ) GO CHEROKEE!
Yikes! Saw the weather report for tomorrow, Saturday, the 12th, and wondered how the coaches will get the practice done?! Rain, sleet, snow, high winds . . . should we just bag it?
What will our athletes learn from that? They won't get any better in their event and they certainly won't develop the internal strength that will help them throughout the season and maybe throughout their lives!
Let me share a personal story and hope Coach Shaklee doesn't disown me.
Years ago, the coach was on the Drexel Track team and, because of the disruptive 5-year academic, work/study program at Drexel, many of the athletes were forced to train on their own. He often practiced with his old coach from high school (after the high school practice was over) and, one dark, winter night, the weather was awful: cold, heavy rain and strong winds! Back then there were no cell phones so the coach waited in his office knowing the weather was nuts but so was Shaklee! Wait, not nuts, determined to succeed! He would show and they would practice in "the hurricane!"
Well, he did! The two of them laughed at each other, agreed that they were nuts, and then went out and did a hard practice!
An interesting MileSplit, Kansas article written by Rod Morrow in March, 2018 suggests the value of what Shak did and why he continues to stress such devotion with his own athletes! Check it out at: KS.MileSplit. The article is also copied on our server at: Morrow, 25 Days
Years ago, a young runner received some advice that would carry him comfortably through many years of running: don't take the lead on narrow, wooded trails!
Lions, tigers and bears? . . . Snakes? . . . Quicksand? . . . Hidden cliffs? . . . What?!
Planting your face in a spider web can be disconcerting, at best, but if it happens to someone else, it will become one of the funniest running stories you'll ever tell. For example, check out this guy here. Obviously, he's not a runner but you get the idea!
Alas, recent news from the American Southeast adds an even more annoying "dimension" to the story: the Banana Spider, is moving northward and it's BIG! The body is between 1 and 2 inches, the leg span between 4 and 5 inches! Yikes! But even more impressive . . . their silk webs are strong and sticky, generally at human-eye level (where the flying insects are), and span several feet wide! Yikes, again!
Is there good news here? Absolutely! (1) When you tell the story of how one of your friends reacted to encountering one of these webs, everyone will laugh uncontrollably and snot will come out of their noses; (2) the spider is not venomous to humans unless eaten raw; and (3) if you remove the poison sack, cooking the spider briefly with a burning match will make a tasty little snack! Yum!
Enjoy your runs! ; < )
Congratulations to Patrick Ditmars on being named to the Burlington County All-Star Team, Winter, 2022! Patrick was recognized for his performances in the 1600m Run! GO PATRICK!
For us, it all started on a rainy day in September, 2018!
On April 2, 2022, a fairly cold and lightly breezy day (Come on, early Spring in NJ is always a crapshoot: one day it can be sunny and 75, and, on another, 45, windy and rainy), the team traveled to Lenape High School for the newly-named Don Danser Relays, which replaced Maple Shade's "SJ Hall of Fame Relays."
There were quite a few decent performances to report on and Coach Shaklee was the first to send details on the achievements of his distance squad:
"On Saturday, April 2nd, the track & field team opened its season at the Don Danser Relays at Lenape High School. The distance runners had a pretty good day to start the year!
"First up was the JV Distance Medley which featured two Cherokee teams. The A team, composed of Ben Hackney on the 1200, Kevin Hess on the 400, Jameson Crozier on the 800 and Danny Hassall on the 1600, led from the first leg on and won comfortably! The B team, Zack Ciabattoni - 1200, Jack Coulture - 400, Ben Weiner - 800 and Ethan Weisenberg - 1600, also had a good showing, finishing in 4th place. With the chilly windy conditions, the times were irrelevant but the boys competed very well!
"The Varsity DMR got off to a great start with Bradley Popler showing a good turn of speed as he out-kicked the field in a tactical 1200 leg and handed off to Lucas Hatch in the lead! Lucas maintained that lead and built it a little before giving the baton to Bobby Poplau who distanced himself from the field with a fine 2:01.98 800 leg! Andrew Free had a tough job with some serious runners on anchor for Wash Twp, Williamstown and Lenape. He ran aggressively and held on for a 4th place finish.
"The JV 4 X 800 team of Carter Rutter, Evan Pawlik, Nimai Kumar and Josh Pawlik, recorded another victory for the Cherokee team, winning by a wide margin. Anthony DiBatista, Silas Matteson, Tyler Newton and Myron Paes ran on the B-team and raced aggressively.
"The Varsity 4 X 800 team of Tommy Bromley, Conor Jacob, Nick Kuenkel and Patrick Ditmars were hoping to get a Penn Relays qualifier out of the way. Unfortunately, the combination of windy conditions and no competition made that extremely difficult, especially since it was the first race of the season. Still, they recorded a 48 second victory in 8:08 (the fastest time in the state in the early season) highlighted by Patrick's 1:58 anchor leg!
"Next up, the team faces Eastern High School in the first dual meet of the season on Wednesday!"
Additional comments when we hear from the other coaches!
While waiting, check out the article written by Reuben Frank. He reported on Cherokee's outstanding 4 X 800m Relay in his blog, SJ Track Blog: From the Backstretch and his article, "Patrick Ditmars 1:58 anchor lifts Cherokee to fast early 4-by-8 at Don Danser Relays," is copied on our server at Frank's Blog.
Our photographer took advantage of the day's lighting and shot much of the action at the start/finish line on the track . . . no drone to get the other passing zones and the throwers and jumpers! A sampling can be found below while they and the rest are available at the District's Google site.
Official results at: NJ.MileSplit.
On April 6, 2022, the team won their first "dual meet," a cloudy, cool event at Eastern Regional High School!
Distance Coach Shaklee wanted to win the meet but he also wanted to use the opportunity to further train his athletes. He sent the following message:
"The distance squad pulled their weight in the team's first dual meet versus Eastern High School, taking 23 of 27 possible points to help the team to an 85.5 to 54.5 victory!
"The 1600 was an extremely tactical affair, much like a semi-final at the NCAA championships! The top runners were literally jogging through the first three laps of the race and things didn't really get going until the backstretch of the last lap when it turned into a sprint event! Patrick Ditmars came out on top, covering the last lap in about 56 seconds (and probably 26 seconds for the last 200)! Eastern's top man showed a good turn of speed to just nip Tommy Bromley for second, with Tommy also running under 57 seconds for the last lap! The result - Cherokee 6, Eastern 3. The slow early pace may have prevented some of the other Cherokee runners from running their best as they were reluctant to go ahead of the varsity athletes during the first three laps.
"Both Patrick and Tommy came back in the very next event - the 400 - as part of a workout. Despite just having run the 1600, both athletes ran well in the 400 with Patrick taking 2nd place overall right behind Sprint teammate, Kevin Hess!
"Next up was the 800 and Nick Kuenkel, Bobby Poplau and Conor Jacob decided not to wait around for a tactical finish! Instead they ran a fast, steady pace throughout and swept the first three places by a comfortable margin with Nick getting the win and Bobby coming away with a new PR! Other PR's were set by Danny Hassall, Andrew Free, Ben Hackney, Ben Weiner, Julian Hatch, Silas Matteson, Rocco Clifford and Sanidhya Goyal! Danny's race is worth highlighting as it was a huge PR and has him already 13 seconds faster than his best from last spring!
"As part of their workout, Bobby, Conor, Nick, Ben, Andrew and Danny all came back in the next event, the 200, for a little speed work!
'The final distance race of the meet was the 3200. While we only had three athletes in the field, they all ran well! Bradley Poplar set the pace throughout and won comfortably. Behind him, Joe Natoli was running his first race since cross country after being out with an injury all winter. He ran very well to get second and set a new PR, which is sure to improve several times over the season! One of the most exciting races was run by Anthony DiBatista who was challenged by a Eastern runner over the last two laps for fourth! Anthony held him off every time he tried to get by, including a nice sprint down the homestretch to the finish line!
"All of the distance guys came back in the 4 X 400 at the end of the meet with nice results. Patrick ran on the winning varsity relay and had the fastest split of the day! In the much-anticipated Distance 4 X 400 heat, many PR's were racked up, including Bobby Poplau, Conor Jacob, Josh Pawlik, Tommy Bromley, Joe Natoli, Enzo Corona, Danny Hassall, Julian Hatch, Zach Ciabattoni, Ben Weiner, Silas Matteson, Anthony DiBatista, Myron Paes and Shawon Sarker!"
In addition to the Distance guys, Head Coach Hoffman expressed his appreciation for his own athletes, the Throwers! In the Shot, Discus and Javelin, his guys took 26 of 27 possible points, and he emphasized Shane Sloan's PR by 6' in the Discus, and Holden Wolfert's 5' PR in the Javelin!
The Jumpers split the possible points with Eastern's guys, taking 18 out of a possible 36! Coach Hoffman mentioned Ryan Bender in particular, who "had a nice day, including a PR in the Long Jump, with a jump of 20-0!" Cam Burti picked-up a couple of points in the High Jump and the Triple Jump; and Pole Vaulters, Evan Aronow and Jack Couture took 1st and 3rd!
In terms of competition, the Sprinters were severely challenged by a strong Eastern squad. Of the six traditional "sprint events" -- 400 IH, 100m, 200m, 400m, HH and 4 X 400m Relay -- Cherokee took only 20.05 of 54 possible points! Kevin Hess won the 400m and led-off the winning 4 X 400m Relay; Josh Pawlik and Evan Pawlik were key runners in that Relay; and distance star, Patrick Ditmars, jumped in and scored points in the 400m and anchored the Relay. In the Hurdles, Wilson Leung picked up a couple of points; and Lucas Hatch picked-up a 3rd in the 400m.
Some of the pictures from the track area are posted below! They and the rest are posted on the District's Google site. And yeah, the Throwers got ripped again on pictures but the Throws area was hidden far in the back of the campus, we guess, so no one got stuck, struck or whatever! Other than those athletes, our photographer took pictures of all of Cherokee's athletes with one provision: if the camera determined that you are too ugly or too beautiful, the "default" setting shut down the camera to protect it from damage.
MileSplit generally posts dual meet results but, because of the Hand Timing, those results are not counted officially. Here is Cherokee's meet sheet!
DUAL MEET SEASONAL RECORD: 1 - 0! GO CHEROKEE!
On April 14, 2022, Cherokee hosted the Night of 3200's, a series of thirteen heats of the 3200m and, despite a storm that delayed the start, the weather cleared and it was a great night for racing!
Coach Shaklee, the Distance Coach, sent the following to report on the meet:
"The Cherokee Night of 3200s had a rather auspicious beginning as a storm blew through with rain and high winds, delaying the start of the meet by 45 mins. Once underway, the event went off smoothly and the energy on the field and the track was high!
"In the first heat, our newest team member, Sanidhya Goyal, acquitted himself well in his first ever 3200 meter run. Sanidhya ran an inspired last lap to drop under his goal of 16:00 with a 15:59 clocking!
"Heat 2 featured Myron Paes, Tyler Newton and Shawon Sarker, all running their first ever 3200! Myron and Tyler made some aggressive moves to take the lead mid-race and they remained in the thick of it upfront from there to the finish. Not far behind them, Shawon was racing tough and also finished well in the heat!
"In Heat 3, Brett Yagiello had one of the best races of the night! Seeded at 12:50, Brett blew that out of the water, clocking in at 11:35 and making a strong move to win the race but coming just a hair short.
"Heat 6 included three Cherokee runners - Julian Hatch, Enzo Corona and Silas Matteson. All three raced well and finished strong, running faster than their seed times!
"Ben Weiner was the lone Cherokee runner in Heat 7 and he made the most of it! Ben beat his seed time by 3 seconds and his previous PR by an even larger margin!
"Joe Natoli and Andrew Free were both in Heat 10 and both set new PRs! Andrew knocked 10 seconds off of his best from the indoor season. Joe's improvement was even more impressive as he ran 18 seconds under his seed time and 44 seconds faster than his previous best! Joe just missed breaking the 10:00 barrier, an accomplishment he should get in his next go at the distance!
"Running in Heat 11, Bobby Poplau, joined the Cherokee Sub-10:00 Club with his 9:53 clocking! If not for running a little too aggressively in the early going, Bobby PR jump may have been even bigger!
"Bradley Popler and Tommy Bromley found themselves in a highly tactical race in Heat 12! Although not 100% healthy, Tommy was still able to record a small PR, while Bradley ran a tough race with a big negative split to knock 5 seconds off of his previous best!
"Patrick Ditmars was our lone entry in the 13th and final heat. He ran an aggressive race and was running on fumes over the last two laps! Despite that, he still managed to take 22 seconds off of his previous best! Turns out he was not 100% healthy as we discovered when he could not even complete his recovery run at the next day's practice.
"Overall, the guys raced well and now we just need to get everyone healthy and back for the championship season to come!"
Official details at: NJ.MileSplit.
Here is a sampling of pictures from the meet. They and others are posted on the District's Google site!
Two Chiefs just hanging around!