CBA continues its dominance with 24th state title

CBA continues its dominance with 24th state title

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CBA continues its dominance with 24th state title

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HOLMDEL

Thanks to superstorm Sandy and the nor’easter that followed, there is an unprecedented set of circumstances facing New Jersey’s harriers right now.

After the NJSIAA twice rescheduled events at the state level, the Group Championships were Saturday and the Meet of Champions is Wednesday. Additionally, for those that choose to continue, the Foot Locker Northeast Regional and Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional are both scheduled for next Saturday.

That is three high-level championship races in eight days. Some kids and programs are picking and choosing which meets to attack over this time span, but not Christian Brothers Academy.

The Colts, defending champions at the MOC, NXN Northeast and Nike Cross Nationals, are going for it all. With superior depth, plenty of moxie and a season in progress that is being talked about as potentially the greatest by any team anywhere ever in the United States, they just might do it.

On Saturday, in a race won by Red Bank Catholic senior Rob Napolitano, the Colts finished 2-3-4-5-6 with just a 7-second spread to win Non-Public A easily with just 20 points.

The 16:03.2 team average the Colts put up is a new team average course record at Holmdel Park, their fifth course record of the season. The state title is CBA’s 24th, which gives it the most in state history. The Colts had been tied with Bernards for the most state titles with 23.

The truly amazing thing about the course record was that no Colt went under 16:00, which is unfathomable to some. Junior Mike McClemens led the charge by running 16:00 for second, while senior Jack Boyle was sixth in 16:07.

“It seems like we made a push right at the 2-mile mark and then right when we entered the backwoods,” McClemens said. “Everyone just started hammering, we were flying. The way we closed at Shore Conference (at Ocean County Park on Oct. 25) gave us a lot of confidence. We knew we had the ability to close.”

As for Napolitano he becomes the first RBC boy to win a state title after he sat on the CBA pack pretty much the whole way before picking off McClemens for the win in a Holmdel Park personal best 15:59.

A strong kicker, Napolitano knew going in it would be his race if he could keep contact with the lead pack, and he did. A conservative early pace by everyone helped Napolitano’s cause as the lead pack went out unofficially in 5:31 for the first mile and 10:44 for two miles.

“An easy pace up front and I felt really, really good,” Napolitano said. “The plan was over the rise (coming out of the backwoods), that’s where we had to go and that’s where I went. I felt really good. I was just chasing people and that’s what I’m best at.”

In Group II, Holmdel defended its state title from a year ago by scoring 56 points to edge Wallkill Valley, which was second with 63. Last year, Holmdel beat Wallkill Valley, 97-118, for its first state title since 2001.

The Hornets finished 3-8-13-15-17 with a 46-second spread to overcome a Rangers team that had sophomore Craig Corti winning in 16:07 and senior Ryan Chiesa taking fifth in 16:14.

Senior Jack Baisley, Holmdel’s top returner from last fall’s title team, was third in 16:13, while senior Andrew Tsai was eighth in 16:32.

What has been a stellar season for Middletown North junior Tom O’Neill continued on Saturday as he captured Group III in 15:36 for the first state title of his career. The winning time is a Holmdel Park personal best by 39 seconds and it was also the fastest time of the day Saturday.

The Shore Conference had a good showing in Group III as the Toms River South duo of Kyle Kroon and Chris Marco went 2-5. Kroon ran 15:53, while Marco, the reigning NJSIAA 1,600-meter champion outdoors ran 16:18.

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