CBA cross country team stamping itself as one of the best in program history

November 24, 2023 at 7:00 a.m.
The CBA cross country team is all smiles as the Colts display their plaque for winning their record 26th NJSIAA Meet of Champions title at Holmdel Park on Nov. 11. Photo by Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com
The CBA cross country team is all smiles as the Colts display their plaque for winning their record 26th NJSIAA Meet of Champions title at Holmdel Park on Nov. 11. Photo by Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com (Larry Levanti)

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

As the Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, cross country team prepares for the Nov. 25 Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional meet in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., it does so with sights set on being the best team in CBA history.

The Colts won their second straight NJSIAA Meet of Champions title – and record 26th overall – on Nov. 11 at Holmdel Park; and did it impressively. Their 34 points were three shy of the meet record of 31 set by the 1999 CBA team. But junior Alex Mastroly, in a time of 16:10, became the Colts’ top fifth-place finisher in an MOC (only a team’s top five runners count in team scores). Their previous best fifth man was Nat Glackin, who finished 19th in 1999.

CBA not only packed five runners in the top 12, it had all seven in the top 30. They ran a combined team time of 15:56.  

“Normally we sit back at Holmdel and try to close a little better, but we wanted to control the race so I had them kind of get out early,” coach Sean McCafferty said. “We had a good group of guys in the front. Everybody was waiting for (CBA’s) Joe Barrett or (Union Catholic’s) Jimmy Wischusen to take the pace. Joe really didn’t do that until a little before the mile mark, so it  kind of lagged until then and our four or five guys went along with it. If you look at pictures of the mile mark, we had five to seven guys in the top 20. We wanted to control things from the front and we did.”

Barrett became the third Colt to win an MOC individual title with a time of 15:27. The junior built on his sophomore year when he had a talented training mate with the since-graduated Nick Sullivan.

The CBA cross country team runs over the Holmdel Park course en route to its 26th Meet of Champions title on Nov. 11. Photo by Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

“Last year was really good for him having that role model,” McCafferty said. “They ran every step together at practice and meets. They have a lot of respect for each other and that went a long way to developing the relationship they had.

“When Nick graduated Joe started to take off, and not having that person in front of him, he said, ‘You know what, I’m good and I’m gonna take over,’” the coach continued. “He’s been a great leader. He’s fun, he’s serious when he needs to be but it’s been a good experience watching him grow and take that role on.”

Following Barrett were seniors Conor Clifford (5th, 15:51), Alex Kemp (9th, 16:05) and Jack Falkowski (11th, 16:09), Mastroly, senior Brady Barber (20th, 16:16) and sophomore Wyatt Falkowski (29th, 16:23).

“They are tough as nails,” McCafferty said. “The seniors started here during the pandemic as freshmen and it was weird and funky, but they stuck with it. Now they are the best team New Jersey has ever seen. It’s cool to see. They’ve been rocks in there.”

The MOC title was the latest in a string of overwhelming successes this year. On Oct. 14, Barrett ran the 13th best time in Van Cortlandt Park history with a school-record run of 12:13.6 in the Manhattan Invitational Eastern States championship. All five runners placed in the top 19 as CBA won its second straight Easterns title by 77 points and set a course record for New Jersey teams with a 12:44 average. 

Five days later, with Clifford the only Colts front-line runner in the race (he finished second), CBA won its 20th straight Shore Conference title and 38th overall at Ocean County Park, Lakewood. On Oct. 28 CBA’s second-level runners won the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference title at Greystone - Central Park in Morris Plains. Sophomore Luke Hnatt won the race while juniors Thomas Field and Ryah Schmitt were 2-3.

That was followed by an absolutely dominating effort in the Non-Public A meet at Holmdel Park. CBA won its 32nd state title by taking places one through five for a perfect score of 15 points. In the process it set a course record of 15:51.8. 

Combine those efforts with the MOC title and on paper there’s a good chance the Colts will defend their Northeast Regional title and surpass last year’s 18th-place finish in Nationals.

“It looks like it’s gonna be mostly the New Jersey teams,” McCafferty said of the toughest competition. “This team from Massachusetts is very good, and a couple Connecticut teams. It looks like the biggest competition is Westfield. We should do OK. We’re excited to go in there and throw down and race hard.”

The question had to be asked – is this the best CBA team ever? Meaning it would be New Jersey’s best ever since CBA is the state’s dominant program.

“We have a little work to do at the Regionals and Nationals,” McCafferty said. “Winning the regional and doing extremely well in nationals is important. They set the course record at  Manhattan and Holmdel. At this point they’ve been the best. They’ve embraced being very good.”

They will try elevating to great in the next two weekends.


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As the Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, cross country team prepares for the Nov. 25 Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional meet in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., it does so with sights set on being the best team in CBA history.

The Colts won their second straight NJSIAA Meet of Champions title – and record 26th overall – on Nov. 11 at Holmdel Park; and did it impressively. Their 34 points were three shy of the meet record of 31 set by the 1999 CBA team. But junior Alex Mastroly, in a time of 16:10, became the Colts’ top fifth-place finisher in an MOC (only a team’s top five runners count in team scores). Their previous best fifth man was Nat Glackin, who finished 19th in 1999.

CBA not only packed five runners in the top 12, it had all seven in the top 30. They ran a combined team time of 15:56.  

“Normally we sit back at Holmdel and try to close a little better, but we wanted to control the race so I had them kind of get out early,” coach Sean McCafferty said. “We had a good group of guys in the front. Everybody was waiting for (CBA’s) Joe Barrett or (Union Catholic’s) Jimmy Wischusen to take the pace. Joe really didn’t do that until a little before the mile mark, so it  kind of lagged until then and our four or five guys went along with it. If you look at pictures of the mile mark, we had five to seven guys in the top 20. We wanted to control things from the front and we did.”

Barrett became the third Colt to win an MOC individual title with a time of 15:27. The junior built on his sophomore year when he had a talented training mate with the since-graduated Nick Sullivan.

The CBA cross country team runs over the Holmdel Park course en route to its 26th Meet of Champions title on Nov. 11. Photo by Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

“Last year was really good for him having that role model,” McCafferty said. “They ran every step together at practice and meets. They have a lot of respect for each other and that went a long way to developing the relationship they had.

“When Nick graduated Joe started to take off, and not having that person in front of him, he said, ‘You know what, I’m good and I’m gonna take over,’” the coach continued. “He’s been a great leader. He’s fun, he’s serious when he needs to be but it’s been a good experience watching him grow and take that role on.”

Following Barrett were seniors Conor Clifford (5th, 15:51), Alex Kemp (9th, 16:05) and Jack Falkowski (11th, 16:09), Mastroly, senior Brady Barber (20th, 16:16) and sophomore Wyatt Falkowski (29th, 16:23).

“They are tough as nails,” McCafferty said. “The seniors started here during the pandemic as freshmen and it was weird and funky, but they stuck with it. Now they are the best team New Jersey has ever seen. It’s cool to see. They’ve been rocks in there.”

The MOC title was the latest in a string of overwhelming successes this year. On Oct. 14, Barrett ran the 13th best time in Van Cortlandt Park history with a school-record run of 12:13.6 in the Manhattan Invitational Eastern States championship. All five runners placed in the top 19 as CBA won its second straight Easterns title by 77 points and set a course record for New Jersey teams with a 12:44 average. 

Five days later, with Clifford the only Colts front-line runner in the race (he finished second), CBA won its 20th straight Shore Conference title and 38th overall at Ocean County Park, Lakewood. On Oct. 28 CBA’s second-level runners won the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference title at Greystone - Central Park in Morris Plains. Sophomore Luke Hnatt won the race while juniors Thomas Field and Ryah Schmitt were 2-3.

That was followed by an absolutely dominating effort in the Non-Public A meet at Holmdel Park. CBA won its 32nd state title by taking places one through five for a perfect score of 15 points. In the process it set a course record of 15:51.8. 

Combine those efforts with the MOC title and on paper there’s a good chance the Colts will defend their Northeast Regional title and surpass last year’s 18th-place finish in Nationals.

“It looks like it’s gonna be mostly the New Jersey teams,” McCafferty said of the toughest competition. “This team from Massachusetts is very good, and a couple Connecticut teams. It looks like the biggest competition is Westfield. We should do OK. We’re excited to go in there and throw down and race hard.”

The question had to be asked – is this the best CBA team ever? Meaning it would be New Jersey’s best ever since CBA is the state’s dominant program.

“We have a little work to do at the Regionals and Nationals,” McCafferty said. “Winning the regional and doing extremely well in nationals is important. They set the course record at  Manhattan and Holmdel. At this point they’ve been the best. They’ve embraced being very good.”

They will try elevating to great in the next two weekends.

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