Early-to Late May: April-into-the-first-days-of-May have been windy and a tad cool but May is here and we're looking forward to warm, dry days and a lot of PR's as we advance to the up-coming state championship meets! GO CHEROKEE!
On May 5th, 2022, the elite of Cherokee's Track Team arrived at the SJTCA Elite Track and Field Meet with the intention of making a strong impression on South Jersey and the rest of the state and, in many ways, that goal was a success!
The evening was an unusually good one for Track competition, cool with little or no wind, and many of Cherokee's elite took advantage of it!
As a group, the Distance squad was the most successful, as Coach Shaklee pointed out:
"Several of Cherokee's Distance runners met the standard to race in the South Jersey Elite Meet at Delsea on Thursday, May 5th.
"Bradley Popler was our lone entrant in the 1600 Meter Run and he made the most of it, knocking almost three seconds off of his previous best which he had just set a few days earlier at the Lenape dual meet! His time of 4:31.05 moved Bradley a little closer to his season goal of sub-4:30!
"We had five athletes who qualified for the 800 Meter Run! In the first heat, Sophomore Bobby Poplau, ran from the front and held it most of the way before getting passed just before the finish line! Bobby finished second in his heat and eighth overall with a new PR of 1:57.74! Bobby's time moves him to number 21 on the All-Time Cherokee List! Behind Bobby, Lucas Hatch was having a great race as well! Coming in with a 2:01.26 PR, Lucas knocked almost a second and a half off of that to drop under 2:00 with a 1:59.86 clocking, moving him to number 32 on the All-Time Cherokee List!
"Patrick Ditmars, Conor Jacob and Tommy Bromley all took to the line in the seeded heat and all ran strong races! Although getting cut-off at the start and going into the first turn in last, Patrick did not let it get to him and he patiently moved up over the first 400. He ran a strong last 200 to challenge for the win and, although he came up a little short, he still crossed the line in 3rd at 1:55.01, a new Cherokee Junior Class record! That time also puts Patrick at number 4 on the All-Time Cherokee List! Conor Jacob finished right behind Patrick in 4th place with a new PR of 1:56.26, number 11 on the All-Time Cherokee List! Tommy was our next finisher in 7th (10th overall), proving that his 1:58.7 hand-time from the Lenape Dual Meet was no fluke as he recorded a fully automatic 1:59.23! Including Nick Kuenkel's 1:59.83 from the Blue Devil Classic, we now have six runners under 2:00 this year, the most ever for a Cherokee team!
"Speaking of Nick Kuenkel, he was running his first 3200 Meter track race since last spring. After missing most of cross country and all of Indoor Track due to injury, this was an opportunity to test his current fitness. Nick showed that he has come a long way since his return! Haddonfield's George Andrus, coming in with a 9:08 PR, took the first lap out fast and Nick went with him, covering the first 400 in 64 seconds! Despite the overly aggressive start, Nick stayed with Andrus most of the way and held on to place 2nd with a huge new PR of 9:23.51! Nick's time puts him at number 8 on the All-Time Cherokee List!
"The only other runner on the track for Cherokee was Senior Kevin Hess in the 400 Meter Run. Although Kevin is still working his way back into shape, he ran well and finished very strongly, showing that he is ready to race faster with a more aggressive first 200!" (Hint?!)
That said, a quick look at the official results shows there were a couple fine efforts at the Throws as well! In the Javelin, Holden Wolfert left his old PR far behind with a impressive 156' 09" throw and Zack Ott failed to reach his PR by only a few feet! In the Discus, Daniel Mondile set a new PR by about 5 feet but missed his PR in the Shot by about 3 inches!
In his recent blog SJ Track Blog: From the Backstretch article, Reuben Frank reported on the 800m race at the SJTCA Elite Meet where 8 runners went under 1:58! Three of those runners were Cherokee athletes. We saved the section on our server that details our runners' performances here.
Further details at: NJ.MileSplit.
The following pictures, and others not shown here, are posted on the District's Google site!
The Three Mouseketeers? . . . Ooops, Musketeers!
Recently, Warren Buffett explained what to do if you're looking to become successful at something:
"It's better to hang out with people better than you! Pick out associates whose behavior is better (farther along the path) than yours and you'll drift in that direction."
Let's focus that a bit. Better how?
Faster, stronger, they throw farther, they jump farther and higher . . .. These are nice physical qualities but what other "traits" are there to look for?
Invest in relationships with honest and ethical people . . . people with "learning and growing mindsets; think of yourself as a 'learning machine'" . . . people with leadership qualities who can get other people to come along . . . people who are happy with what they are doing . . . people who are fun to be around . . . people who care for others and enjoy the company of others . . . people who know that failures are part of growing and succeeding . . ..
Come on! What else might you look for in an associate that might help you succeed?
Who do you want as a friend 50 years from now? Is their behavior "better" than yours?
On May 11th, 2022, the entire team traveled to Sewell, NJ for the Washington Township Dual Meet and, despite some heroic efforts by individual team members, Cherokee went home the losers, with a score of 58 - 82!
Coach Shaklee sent this report on his Distance studs!
"The team went into the Washington Township dual meet knowing it would be a tall order to get a win. Given their great strength in the Sprints and Hurdles, we knew that, in order to have any chance, we needed to take most of the points in the distance races . . . and Washington Township has good distance runners!
"The 1600 was a tactical affair with Conor Jacob, Patrick Ditmars and Nick Kuenkel sitting on the Washington Twp runner who kept the pace conservative. With 250m to go, he made his move and Conor, Patrick and Nick reacted and all managed (Nick right before the line) to take the 1-2-3 sweep and secure nine points for the team! Behind the top three, Liam Tindall, Ben Weiner, Enzo Corona, Shawon Sarker, Myron Paes and Rocco Clifford all set new PRs!
"Tommy Bromley, Bobby Poplau and Lucas Hatch were up next in the 800 and they all closed well to take the first three spots and give the team nine more points! In addition, Andrew Free knocked a few tenths off of his previous PR!
"With the meet still undecided going into the 3200, we reluctantly called on Nick Kuenkel to double back for the 3200 along with Bradley Popler and Joe Natoli. Township had saved their top guy fresh for the event so we knew it would be a fight! Nick executed a perfect "sit and kick" strategy and took the win over the last 150 meters! Bradley fought hard but couldn't quite secure second and settled for third with Joe not far back in fourth. The distance team did its best and came away with 24 of a possible 27 points!
"With the meet all but lost - but not quite as Township needed two more points with two events left - we took to the line for 4 x 400 Relay with the team of Kevin Hess, Lucas Hatch, Conor Jacob and Patrick Ditmars! Conor split a 52.6 PR on the third leg to get us even with Township going into the anchor leg. Patrick was very close to his PR on the anchor but was, unfortunately, edged out at the line . . . and the meet was decided.
"Although disappointed, there was no time to dwell on it as we had to prepare for the upcoming Burlington County Championships".
Our photographer thanks Angelo Kyrtatas for his help at the meet!
Until other information is forwarded, here is the "Results Sheet" from the SJTCA website: Google Spreadsheet: Cherokee V. Washington Township.
However, a quick comparison between the "Results Sheet" and MileSplit records shows some nice performances by the Throwers and Jumpers! DJ Mondile took 2nd in the Discus with a PR throw of over 3', and 1st in the Shot with a throw just under his PR! Newcomer Brody Wolfert took 3rd in the Discus with a throw just 3' under his PR in the event! Holden Wolfert took 1st in the Javelin; Zach Ott took 2nd in the Javelin with an PR of 139' 6"; and Freshman Dylan Grau picked up a point in the Shot while setting his own PR of 39' 7"! The Jumpers added some important points as well! Though still a little banged-up, Ryan Bender took 3rd in the High Jump and 2nd in the Long Jump for 4 points; AJ Cooper cleared 39' 1" in the Triple Jump for a 5 point 1st place, and Cam Burti cleared 38" 11" for a 3 point 2nd place; and Evan Aranow cleared 9' in the Pole Vault for a 1 point 3rd place!
Here are a few pictures from the Javelin and Jumps area. These and many other pictures from the meet can be found at the District's Google site.
On 14th, 2022, the Varsity team traveled to near-by Rancocas Valley Regional High School for the Burlington County Championships. The weather experts forecast cloudy, cool conditions with little wind and, possibly, a few brief showers in the morning and thundershowers in the late afternoon. Anyone who was there knows how much they lied!
Conversation between our photgrapher and a father along the fence.
Situation: pouring rain, kinda raw temperature. Father dressed in flip-flops, shorts, T-shirt and hat, soaking wet, shivering.
Photographer: "Dressed a tad lightly, aren't you?"
Dad: "A little. I didn't know it was going to rain . . . I have nothing in the car but three cloth Acme shopping bags and [with a smile] I'm thinking of building a shelter!"
Photographer: "Go home and I'll take extra pictures for you."
Dad: "Nah, she's my baby and I want to see her run!"
Good for you, Dad, and good for her!
Despite the conditions, Cherokee had several exceptional performances at the meet! Thanks to his Distance Captains and modern technology, sick- at-home Coach Shaklee knew as much about the on-going meet as those who actually attended (and got soaked!) and he sent the following comments on his incredible Distance Squad's performance from his comfortably dry sick-bed (sipping medicinal Mint Juleps?!)
"At the County Championships, Coach Shak (illness) and Coach Viscidy (wedding) were missing, and Coach Thompson left early (also a wedding) while Coach Hoffman was out in the field with the Throwers. This meant that the runners all needed to be very prepared and focused on the day. Fortunately, Captains Jameson Crozier and Bradley Popler were there to help keep things organized and to make sure check-ins were done and warm-ups were started appropriately!
"The distance crew showed that they really didn't need much coaching help as they scored most of the team points for the day!
"Bradley Popler was up first in the 3200 along with Joe Natoli and Ben Hackney. Bradley came in as the fifth seed and finished third with a new PR earning 6 team points! Joe had an off day but Benny, although out of the scoring, was able to drop his PR by a full 11 seconds!
"The 4 x 800 Relay was next and the team of Josh Pawlik, Lucas Hatch, Evan Pawlik and Bobby Poplau took the win to give the team ten more points!
"In the 800, Patrick Ditmars led from the gun and took the win in a fast 1:55.96, his second fastest 800 to date! Bobby Poplau and Evan Pawlik doubled back from the 4 X 800 with Bobby taking third and, along with Patrick's win, giving the team 16 more points!
"The final distance event was the 1600 and Conor Jacob and Nick Kuenkel, despite not much experience in the event, took first and second, both setting new PRs! Tommy Bromley, who has been running so well all season, had a bit of an off day but will certainly bounce back for the next one! Conor and Nicks' 1 - 2 finish secured 18 more points for the team!
"Finally, the last event of the track was the 4 X 400 Relay. Lucas Hatch led off and handed off in a close third place after the first leg. Josh Pawlik maintained the third place position when he handed off to Conor Jacob, who had only moments ago finished the 1600. Despite the lack of recovery time, Conor was able to run his fastest 400 leg ever and gave the baton to Patrick Ditmars in third place behind Willingboro and Burlington City, with Rancocas Valley right behind. The Rancocas Valley runner went by Patrick immediately and began to close on first place Willingboro. Meanwhile, Patrick kept his focus, held his form and began slowly closing the gap on the first three teams! Coming off of the last turn, he passed the runner from Burlington City but it still looked like he would finish in third. However, Patrick kept his composure and closed the gap over the last 50 meters before edging by both teams in the final strides to take the victory!
"Although the team title is not yet decided as weather forced postponement of some events, it appears that Willingboro has an insurmountable lead. That, of course, takes nothing away from some of the great racing done out there by these guys in the 800, 1600, 3200, 4 X 800 and 4 X 400! In those five events alone, Cherokee scored 60 points!"
Additional information on the team soon!
Our photographer thanks the Bromleys for their help during the meet!
Official details, videos, etc. at: NJ.MileSplit. In addition, MileSplit made a separate feature on Ditmar's "wild closing lap in the 4 X 400" that can be reached directly here! As if that isn't enough commenting on Patrick's amazing anchor in the 4 X 4, NJ.MileSplit writer, Jim Lambert highlighted it and other "amazing performances" in his "Rewind: A Look At Some Amazing Performances This Past Week" here. Alas, no fault with "Ditmar's Masterpiece" but where's the love for the other three stars in that race: Lucas, Conor and Evan?! Hurumph!
Here are some pictures from the meet and these and others are available on the District's Google site!
On May 15th, 2022, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association presented the NJSIAA Scholar-Athlete Award to Track team member, Sprinter/Hurdler Wilson Leung for his excellent performances both on the Track and in the classroom!
Congratulations to Wilson Leung on receiving the NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Award!
On May 17th, 2022, the team hosted the fourth and final Dual Meet of the season against Cherry Hill H. S. East. Both teams lost to Washington Township so the Division was already settled but it's never good to move along leaving a task undone! Today's task was to beat East and end the Dual Meet season, 3 - 1.
As usual, Coach Shaklee was the first to comment on his athletes and the "smackdown" they administered to the coach's alma mater!
"The distance team went into the Cherry Hill East Dual Meet with the goal of having everyone run just one good race and take as many distance points as possible.
"Mission accomplished . . .. Of the 27 possible points in the three distance events, Cherokee took 22. In addition, there were a number of new PRs set despite the windy conditions!
"The 1600 got things started. Bobby Poplau executed his race plan perfectly and ran to victory over the last 250 meter of the race with a new PR! Tommy Bromley finished a close third, also setting a new 1600 PR! Myron Paes and Rocco Clifford set new PRs of their own with Myron's being the most impressive as he knocked about fifteen seconds off of his previous best!
"We had a large contingent in the 800 Meter Run and it was divided into two heats. In the first heat, Enzo Corona led from start to finish, setting a new PR and narrowly holding off a fast-closing Julian Hatch who also set a new PR! In addition, Joe Hough, Anthony DiBatista, Luke Reistle, Brett Yagiello, Ben Weiner and Sanidhya Goyal all also recorded new PRs! In heat two, Conor Jacob and Nick Kuenkel took care of securing the top two places and scoring eight points for the team with well run tactical races! Also in heat two, Freshman Liam Tindall, ran well to set a new PR!
"No PRs were set in a very-tactical 3200 Meter race which saw Patrick Ditmars and Bradley Popler execute to perfection and take the first two spots with strong kicks over the last 250 meters of the race!
"Next, the team will travel to Holmdel High School for the Royal Rumble on Thursday, planning to return home with a whole new batch of PRs!
No comments from others and no results sheet posted yet. Stay tuned.
Here are some really random pics from the meet! They and the others are posted on the District's Google site!