By having his team run in what amounted to the Class A Central championship race on Tuesday and the Shore Coaches Invitational championship race on Saturday, Red Bank Bank Catholic girls cross country head coach Rob DeFilippis knew he was asking a lot of a young team, which had to run Holmdel’s Park’s vaunted 3.1-mile state championship course twice in five days.
The Caseys had a strong showing on Tuesday, going 5-1 against the rest of Class A Central, and followed it up on Saturday with a race indicative of a young, but talented group on the rise.
Led by a seventh-place finish in 19:56, the Caseys, ranked No. 2 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, scored just 63 points to capture the championship division at Shore Coaches. Among scoring teams, the Caseys finished 6-10-11-15-21 for their 63 points and registered a 1-5 spread of just 57 seconds.
“We raced hard Tuesday, they knew we were coming back Saturday and we were pretty much dead-on to what we ran Tuesday and a couple kids were even a little faster,” DeFilippis said of his team, which lost only to No. 1 and reigning NJSIAA Meet of Champions winner Rumson-Fair Haven on Tuesday, 23-32. “We asked a lot of them in a week. In a big spot, regardless of who got on the line for the race today, it’s still the championship component of the meet and they came out and ran really solid.
Also in the championship race, Lacey junior Danielle Leavitt, the defending Ocean County, Shore Conference and South Jersey Group III champion, finished third in 19:29. Amanda Rickert of Wilmington (Del.) won the race in 18:57, while Ridgewood’s Catherine Pagano was second 19:16.
Leavitt said she was suffering a bit from dehydration on an unseasonably warm day, which led to her time being 22 seconds off her Holmdel Park personal best.
However, that arguably makes Leavitt’s effort more impressive as 19:29 at Holmdel Park the first week of October is unquestionably solid, healthy or not.
“I just want to take this race and try and find a strategy for the more important races,” said Leavitt, who will not race at Holmdel Park again until the Group III meet on Nov. 10. “I’m not completely disappointed with my time. A few minor things change and I probably could be where I was last year.”
In the Varsity D race, Rumson-Fair Haven scored 65 points for the win over fellow-state title contender Summit, which finished second with 70.
In a wide open boys championship race, Pennsylvania’s La Salle College High School put just two runners inside the top 20, but had a 1-5 spread of only 30 seconds to come up with the win with 117 points. Nationally-ranked Northport of Long Island was second with 121 points.
Holmdel was sixth with 175 points, while Christian Brothers Academy was seventh with 178. The Colts ran their ‘B’ team, comprised of five sophomores, one junior and one senior. They rested their entire varsity in anticipation of Saturday’s Manhattan Invitational Eastern States Championship, where CBA is the defending champion. That race is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
Individually in the championship race, Red Bank Catholic senior Rob Napolitano finished fifth in 16:17, which is a 12-second Holmdel Park personal best.
The Shore Conference claimed two individual boys winners on Saturday. Steadily-improving Middletown North junior Tom O’Neill dominated a respectable Varsity A field in 16:01, which was the second fastest time of the day, just one second behind the 16:00 run by Varsity F winner Liam Mullett of Pingry.
In the Varsity B race, 2011 Outdoor MOC 1,600-meter winner Chris Marco of Toms River South was the winner in 16:33, while Colts Neck senior Riley Leder was second in 16:46. For Marco, who offered a non-binding verbal commitment to Notre Dame late Thursday evening, the 16:33 is eight seconds off a Holmdel Park personal best.