Siblings Cate and Chris DeSousa, who attend Catholic schools, both won a Non-Public A individual sectional title in cross country in mid-November. Photo courtesy of Cynthia DeSousa
Siblings Cate and Chris DeSousa, who attend Catholic schools, both won a Non-Public A individual sectional title in cross country in mid-November. Photo courtesy of Cynthia DeSousa

Chris DeSousa grew up in Oceanport as a soccer player, while little sister Cate took on soccer and field hockey. But when Cate reached middle school, she turned to track and cross country – inspiring Chris to do the same. 

“I only started running my freshman year when I saw my sister was having success in middle school,” Chris said. 

 Now, four years later, the DeSousas are experiencing joint success.   

On Nov. 15, Cate – a sophomore at Red Bank Catholic High School – won the individual championship in the NJSIAA Girls Non-Public A cross country meet at Clark’s Oak Ridge Park. In the process, she led the Bucs to the team title.  

Approximately 40 minutes later, Chris won the individual title in the Boys Non-Public A meet as a senior, while leading Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft to the team title.  

“Not only was I super excited for me and my team to both win titles, I was also so proud of my brother and his team for winning their race,” Cate said. “We both worked over the quarantine from March to June. In the beginning of the summer, we both made a list of our goals, and on both of our sheets, we had ‘Win Non-Public states and win as a team.’ It feels great to know that the hard work all paid off, and we were both able to accomplish those goals.” 

Cate actually applied the pressure on big brother with her victory. 

“When I watched Cate cross the line in first, I was given some motivation to win my race,” Chris said. “The icing on the cake is that we both got team titles.” 

Cate clocked a time of 19:03 on a windy day to improve on her fourth-place finish last year. She ran the first two miles in a pack of three before gradually pulling ahead at the two-mile mark.  

“My race went really well,” she said. “With two seniors ahead of me last year, I knew I had a pretty good shot to win it this year. Although I wanted an individual title, I was more focused on getting the lowest score I could for my team.”  

RBC put four runners in the top 10 with Kate DeFilippis (5th), Elea Dimitri (6th) and Kase Torchia (9th), while Avery Hargis and Alex Haugh were 21-22.  

While Cate won by a comfortable margin, Chris edged teammate Ben Santos by three seconds in a time of 15:37. Like his sister, he finished fourth last year with hopes of victory this season.   

“I knew I had a shot at winning the race, and I went after it leading from the start,” Chris said. “Ben helped push me along, and it gave me confidence to see a familiar face up front. Ben definitely was my biggest competitor, and since we are both on the same team we dragged each other along to both run fast times.” 

CBA, which has dominated the Shore Conference and Non-Public A over the past decade, had all six runners in the top 11 with Nicholas Sullivan (5th), Jack Moran (6th), Daniel DeMasi (8th), Sean Elliott (9th) and Chase Cauvin (11th). 

Aside from the coaches and competitors, the two happiest onlookers were Cynthia and Brian DeSousa. Brian played soccer and ran track at RBC, while Cynthia was a swimmer and field hockey player.  

“They were so excited to see Chris and me accomplish something so great together,” Cate said. “They are both very supportive and do all they can to help us succeed. Whenever I have to run alone, either my mom or dad will always volunteer to ride their bike with me to keep me company. My goal is to train them to be able to run with us at one point.” 

The siblings started out training together until Chris began to increase his speed and Cate couldn’t keep up. But when team practices were shut down by COVID-19, they re-united.  

“The time always flies when we are running together,” Chris said.  

“Chris and I have a very close relationship,” added Cate. “We also spend time together fishing, skiing, and doing other activities we love with our older brother, Evan. He used to run track for CBA, too, before going to James Madison University. Running just happens to be something we can bond over even more.” 

They also bond over their Episcopalian faith, which both turn to on the cross country trails.  

“Before every race my team and I say a few prayers to keep us safe throughout the race,” Chris said.  

“Faith plays a big part in my running because I know that even when it gets hard on the course, God is looking over me and believing in me,” Cate said. “Before every race, my teammates and I pray to Mary, the Queen of Victory, and we say a Hail Mary for good luck. We know that God has put each and every one of us out there for a reason.”