| "Well., I guess we have to come back here next week," was Tommy Heath's reaction after the veteran Christian Brothers coach saw his team shut out by Fayetteville-Manlius NY in the featured boys' race at the Manhattan Invitational last Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park. CBA is entered in the Boys Eastern States championships at VCP this Saturday (10/16).
Though CBA turned in the best team average (13:21) for a NJ school that day, the Colts saw both Old Bridge and Morris Hills, winners in their races, get a little too close for comfort. Two other contenders for state supremacy, Toms River North and Cherokee, took the weekend off.
The principal item for New Jersey out of the Manhattan meet was the 12:28 victory by Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard's in the first of the seven boys' race. It was at first record as 12:20 until a number of coaches convinced meet officials that there had been an eight-second error in transferring the time verbally from the hand-watch used at the starting line to the official clock at the finish.
The time turned out to be the second-fastest of the day, beaten only in the final race by Chris Barnicle of Newton North, Mass., who has to be considered among the favorites for Footlocker honors this year. The only other New Jerseyans under 13:00 were Bryan Scotland of St. Benedict's, who finished third behind Barnicle, and Chris Horel, who led CBA at 12:59.
Scotland's participation in the meet was the result of a New Jersey Superior Court ruling which enjoined both Manhattan and this weekend's Brown Invitation from barring St. Benedict's from their meets. The ruling was welcomed by Manhattan meet director Ed Bowes, who was also happy to hear that LaSalle of Philadelphia had come to the meet even though the Pennsylvania state association had attempted to bar them from the competition.
The major action for NJ girls last Saturday was at the South Jersey Open where three of the state's best won their respctive races. Katie Van Horn of Triton took the A (large school) race in 19:13, defending all-group champion Brittany Sedberry of Ocean City snapped back from her disappointing showing at the Great American meet a week earlier as she reversed a loss to Leah Brogan of Msgr. Donovan that day, running 18:10, and Vanessa Wright of Haddonfield confirmed her fine showing at the Oct. 2 Shore Coaches meet by taking the C event in 18:23.
Msgr. Donovan was the dominant team at this one as it won the B event, 34-80, from Moorestown even though its top frosh star, Molly Kempton, was absent.
Pope John had the top performance at the Manhattan meet, winning its class race with Lara Heigis placing third in 15:13, officially the best NJ time of the meet, though Lauren Gregory of Morris Knolls, appeared to have run a tick faster, placing 18th in the Eastern title race---her official time was 15:14.
The boys' action at the South Jersey meet was rather tepid with Cherokee and Toms River North, the two best in that part of the state, both absent. Mainland, which had dominated state team action the past two years, managed a one-point win over Washington Twp in the A race, but its only veteran from the 2002-03 teams, Joey Masters, finished only fifth behind Anthony Kelhower of Lenape, who ran 15:54. Soph Mike Burke of Haddonfield had another big race as he won C in 16:09
One problem for all the teams was that this Saturday has suddenly become a college-board day, which now means that three of the five Saturdays in the middle of the season are affected in this manner. At least one boy who ran very well at Manhattan, Korey Edwards of Parsippany Hills (13:00) arrived just 10 minutes before his race.
The third meet of last weekend, the Brett Taylor Invitational at Darlington Park in Mahwah, saw Cheyenne Ogleree of Garfield win the girls' A race in 18:24 and Amy VanAlstine of Midland Park the B in 19:25, while Ben Diestal of Northern Highlands and Chris Guerriero of Saddle Brook took the respective boys' races in 16:06 and 16:08. .
Ogletree, VanAlstine and Guerriero returned to the course three days later to win their events at the Bergen-Passaic Scholastic League champions with Amy chopping 35 seconds off her time at the Taylor meet---still more than a minute off her older sister's course record. Her twin, Ryan, did manage to break the family record, finishing third to Guerriero in 17:15.
This meet, and the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League championshsips the same day at Garret Mountain in West Paterson, led off a long series of conference and county meets which will dominate the next two weeks of action in the state, interrupted only by the Fordham University invitational---CBA will be in the Eastern boys' championship race---and Ridgewood Invitational on Saturday.