CBA cross country team wins 24th Meet of Champions title
The tweet sent out on the Christian Brothers Academy cross country Twitter account said it all: “3 in a row. 9 out of 10. 24 out of 47.”
Those staggering numbers were referring to the amount of NJSIAA Meet of Champions the Colts have won after their utter domination of the field Nov. 23 at Holmdel Park. CBA garnered just 62 points, nearly twice as low as second-place Mendham’s 119.
It is the Lincroft school’s third straight MOC championship, ninth in 10 years and 24th in the 47 years the meet has been held. CBA has now won more MOC titles than all other schools combined. Coach Sean McCafferty is quick to point out that retired coach Tom Heath is the common denominator throughout the years, but the Colts have won it three of McCafferty’s four years at the helm.
And it never gets old, because it never gets easy.
“The Meet of Champions is always a tough race to navigate.,” McCafferty said. “Since [the Manhattan Invitational] on Oct. 12, we haven’t had a race where our top seven wasn’t in the top 10 to 15 guys. With this race, the gun goes off and it’s just like ‘Wow!’ New Jersey is one of the few states in the country that does a full state meet like this. It’s hard, it’s tough to navigate and be confident during the race. But we did that.
“The boys raced really hard, they followed the game plan. One of our guys had an off race, other guys picked up for him, That’s what it’s all about. It’s a team race. When one of our brothers falls off, it’s great the other guys get him going.”
Leading the way as usual was No. 1 runner Shaw Powell. The senior won the Non-Public meet the previous week, in helping CBA to its 30th state title. In the Meet of Champions, he finished third with a time of 15:41. He was one of three Colts in the top 17 as juniors Ben Santos (16:13) and Chris DeSousa (16:14) were 15th and 17th.
“I can’t say enough about Shaw Powell and our two juniors up front,” McCafferty said. “In the last month-and-a-half, they have reinvented themselves. Shaw works really hard. In the past, he’s had difficulties in these type of races. We spent a lot of time talking about strategy, and he ran exactly how we told him to do it. The other two went from being pretty good juniors to excellence. They’re some of the best juniors, not only on the East Coast but in the country.”
Rounding out the CBA finishers were sophomore Jack Moran (35th, 16:33), senior Troy Hill (37th, 16:35), senior Tim Cahill (16:51) and freshman Nicholas Sullivan (7:14).
“We gave them a general guideline of a place where they should be early on during the race,” McCafferty said. “Shaw and Troy were supposed to start between 20th and 30th and the other guys 30th to 40th, and that’s exactly where all of them were. They did exactly what we asked for.”
The results were as they usually are, with CBA ruling over New Jersey. With such a history to live up to, there could be a lot of pressure on the runners, or it could fuel their confidence.
“I think it’s both, and it depends on the group of kids,” McCafferty said. “This year it definitely was a confidence thing. You look back at five, six weeks ago, in early October, we thought we were gonna have a tough time winning this race. West Windsor-North was running well, Mendham and Cherokee both looked good. We thought it was gonna be tough.
“The way we’ve developed over the last few weeks, just in practice, was impressive. We didn’t race from Oct. 24 to last week [Nov. 16]. Watching them grow and develop was amazing. I had a feeling going into last Saturday people were going to have a tough time beating us. But in the Meet of Champions, Mendham ran real well. We thought this was gonna be tough.”
CBA ran even better and put 57 points between itself and Mendham. Next up is the Northeast Regional in New York.
“Regionals will be another tough one,” McCafferty said. “LaSalle from Rhode Island and LaSalle from Philadelphia are both very good. Must be something to that Lasallian coaching. Downingtown West outside of Philly is very good. It should be fun. The top two get automatic bids and there are some at-large bids, but they’re tough to get. We don’t want to leave it up to that.”