|Fresh from an impressive victory at the Shore Coaches Invitational last weekend, Christian Brothers Acadermy faces a severe challenge this Saturday when it meets Fayetteville-Manlius of New York in the mammoth Manhattan Invitational at historic Van Cortlandt Park.
Led by junor Chris Horel, who won a slow-paced race in 16:12, the Colts averaged 16:34 in winning the A division at the state championship course of Holmdel County Park. 33-87, from Old Bridge. Its all-underclass team had four of the first nine finishers.
Fayetteville averaged 15:20 in taking the title race at the McQuaid Invitational in Rochester with a meager 15-second spread for its first five runners. This is a tough act to match--the CBA spread at Holmdel was 47 seconds.
The New Jersey entry at Manhattan is thinner than usual, but will also include the No. 2 team from Holmdel, Morris Hills, which averaged 16:48 in winning the D race for its third win of the young season. Old Bridge will be the only other member of the state's Top Ten. The others will be at either the South Jersey Open at Delsea High School or the Brett Taylor Invitational at the Darlington Park course in Mainland.
The top individual entry at Manhattan, in the B race, will be Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's, who had the fastest Holmdel performance last weekend, winning the F race in an even 16 minutes. Unfortunately, Bryan Scotland of St. Benedict's, who won his race at Van Cortlandt last fall, has been barred from the meet this year, along with his teammates, an action which may soon land a lot of people in court.
The girls' entry at Manhattan is also a slim one. Morris Knolls, which rested last weekend, is the only New Jersey team in the Eastern championship race.
The South Jersey meet will have Jackson and Ocean City, two of the state's top four teams, as well, of course, as their top runners, Jen Clausen and Brittany Sedberry, both Footlocker finalists last year, plus Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield, who had the fastest girls' time at Holmdel, running 18:34 in the E race.
While most New Jersey teams were at Holmdel last weekend, others spread all over the map, from Rochester, N.Y., to Cary, N.C., at the Great American meet. Clausen led the Garden State contingent there, winning the Red consolation race in 18:20, a time that would have put her in the top 20 in the title race, where Leah Brogan led Msgr. Donovan to a seventh-place finish, placing 25 in 18:50. Sedberry had a rare off day, finishing 29th in 19:03.
For the boys, Chris Pisano of Toms Riiver North was an impressive 8th in the title race in 15:42, while his team placed 11th with a 16:44 average. Cherokee won the "seeded" invitational race with a 16:41 average, Tom Yersak placing 8th in 16:17 and Greg Bredeck 9th in 16:23.
(The top team average at the Great American was 16:17 which hardly compares with CBA's average at the much tougher Holmdel layout. And the Colts did it despite the slow pace which saw a pack of 18 hit the mile mark in 5:30 and the 2M in 10:45.)
Colts Neck was at the Salesianum Invitational in Delaware where soph Craig Forys won the boys' race in 16:27 and soph Ashley Higginson was 2nd in the girls' race in 20:07.
Up at the McQuaid Invitational in Rochester, Dan Pata of St. Peter's was 9th in a consolation race in 16:46.
The other boys' team winners at Holmdel were Ridgewood in B, Ridge in C, Pope John in E and Bernards in F. The Shore Coaches meet is usually a good predictor of what will happen six weeks later at the group championships and CBA, Morris Hills and Bernards seem all to be likely winners that day.
Ben Massam of Chatham was the second fastest indidvidual winner, taking the E race in 16:11, a tick faster than Horel in the A race. Korey Edwards of Parsippany Hills ran 16:19 in C, Scotland (who is somehow eligible to run open mets within the state, but not outside) clocked 16:21 in D and cross-country novice Jeff Perrella of Westfield had his second win of the season in B at 16:30. Other impressive times came from Greg Bull of East Brunswick and Omar Saeed of Old Bridge at 16:18 and 16:19 in A abd sophomore Mike Burke of Haddonfield at 16:21 in E.
Two other girls broke 19:00, Ali Caruana leading Roxbury to its win in 18:47 and Lara Heigis leading Pope John to victory with a 2nd place finish in 18:58 in E. Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean Regional, won won the state 1600 title last spring, took the A race in 19:35, Eleonora Spinazzi of Montgomery won C in 19:41, Arianna McKinney of Highland defeated Emily Sherrard of Hopewell Valley in D in 19:14 and Abby Hinds of Mountain Lakes had her 2nd win in as many weeks in F at 19:34.
With so many top teams at other meets (or taking the week off), the girls' results may not be as reliable a guide to the group finishes, the exceptions being Roxbury in the B race and Pingry in F. Toms River North took A, Paramus surprised even itself by winning C, Voorhees repeated in D despite losing so many of its 2003 stars by graduation and Pope John, as noted, took E handily in the absence of Msgr. Donovan.
New York teams dominated the other in-state meet, the Maroon Invitational at garret Mountain, taking three of the four team titles and two individual crowns. Clifton was the only New Jersey winner in the boys' A race, while Eric Schaffer of Wall won that one in 16:28 and Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park took the girls' B event in 19:33.