It was a great day at the NJSIAA Group Cross Country Championships last weekend, when St. Peter’s Prep enjoyed the best finish of a boys’ Hudson County team in recent memory, placing second to national power Christian Brothers Academy at Holmdel Park in Holmdel.
The Marauders finished a strong second to CBA, falling 23-54, and finishing a solid 75 points ahead of third place finisher Delbarton.
The Marauders were paced by junior Edwin Klanke, who completed the tough Holmdel course in 16:04, just four seconds behind race winner Shaw Powell of CBA.
Klanke, who two weeks ago won the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championship in course record time, has continued his brilliant cross country campaign.
Prep sophomore Luke Bradley was fifth overall in 16:19, the top sophomore finisher in the race.
And Prep junior Rodolfo Sanchez was 10th overall in 16:37, all times and places that head coach Chris Caulfield had to be pleased with.
Senior Tyler Parrado was 14th overall in 16:53, running in cold, windy conditions in Holmdel that were not exactly conducive to good times.
Junior Patrick McCabe was the fifth Marauder finisher, coming in 23rd in a respectable 17:30. So it means that four of Prep’s top five finishers all return next year, showing signs of perhaps a Prep cross country dynasty.
The Marauders will all return to Holmdel this weekend for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Klanke is hoping for a top 10 finish, which is not out of the realm of possibility.
In girls’ action, the Blue Devils of St. Dominic Academy finished third in the Non-Public B race, to winner Villa Walsh and runner-up Trinity Hall.
Among the Blue Devils, junior Kayla Sullivan was sixth in her race in 20:35.
Junior Caroline O’Donnell, the late bloomer on the Blue Devils’ cross country team, having not run competitive cross country before this fall, was the next best SDA finisher, coming in 19th in 21:59. Senior Suhalya Johnson was close behind in 21st overall, crossing the line in 22:06.
Like the Marauders, the Blue Devils’ third place finish enables them to return to Holmdel this weekend in their entirety to race in the Meet of Champions.
In the girls’ Group I race, Weehawken junior Delaney Rice was ninth overall in 20:39, while Secaucus’ fabulous freshman Haley Nowak was 12th in 20:55. McNair Academic’s Safaa Merghoub was 19th in 21:28.
In the boys’ Group I race, Weehawken’s Collin Shevlin was 17th in 17:33 and Secaucus’ Daniel Chinchilla was 19th in 17:38.
Secaucus’ great season to remember concluded with a sixth place team finish in Group I…
Congrats to Union City native Steven Gonzalez, the Penn State senior offensive guard, who was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, the college football All-Star classic, which will be played Jan. 18 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Gonzalez’s selection to the All-Star game will certainly enhance his chances of being selected in the 2020 NFL Draft in April…
OK, it’s time for the wide one with the turban, the crystal ball and the magic wand to make another appearance. It’s none other than the Great Hagueini, who went 2-0 with his selections last week, making him 5-1 with his choices this season.
Remember do not use Hagueini’s selections for any monetary wagering, unless it’s for a liverwurst on rye with raw onion and a diet Dr. Pepper with your Uncle Looie.
Hudson Catholic at Holy Spirit: It’s been a great run back from an 0-5 start for head coach Lou Zampella and his band of Hawks, led by speed demon Isiah Decias, who has declared himself now to be a football player and not a baseball player, much to the chagrin of Hudson Catholic baseball coach Alberto Vasquez.
However, it’s asking a lot for the 4-6 Hawks to travel two hours via bus and come away with a victory against a perennial power in Non-Public Group II.
We’re going against the locals here: Holy Spirit 21, Hudson Catholic 7.
St. Augustine Prep at St. Peter’s Prep: The Marauders survived a gigantic scare last week against Notre Dame of Trenton, which took the opening kickoff back for a score, then scored on a 90-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. At one point, Notre Dame had run one offensive play and yet led, 14-7.
But thanks to the heroics of this week’s Athlete of the Week Byron Shipman (just look how great that catch was) and QB Tahjamell Bullock’s bounce-back performance from the week before, when he misfired on 14 consecutive passes, the Marauders prevailed, 43-35, in a final score that was much closer than anticipated.
This week, the Marauders face a big and bad team in St. Augustine, whose line represents a construction crew of street pavers, averaging 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds across.
I don’t see the Marauders getting pushed around in this one. It’s on to MetLife once again and a rematch with St. Joe’s: St. Peter’s Prep 34, St. Augustine 15.
No doubt, we will have more if one of our locals – or perhaps both – moves on to MetLife Stadium and the overall state championships next weekend. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via email at OGSMAR@aol.com.