The Holmdel boys cross country team won the 2011 NJSIAA Group II title, 97-118, over Wallkill Valley and it did so with the knowledge that it would return five of its top seven runners in 2012.
With a veteran team set to return this fall, Hornets head coach Sean McCafferty didn’t need much time to set a goal of repeating as state champions.
“I think as soon as last year ended, that was our goal,” McCafferty said. “We had a bunch of good kids coming back and a really good attitude. By spring, I started to see they were real coming together well and going into the fall, we were already planning for that.”
The planning came to fruition as the Hornets captured a second consecutive Group II crown, 56-63, again over the Rangers. Holmdel went 3-8-13-15-17 for a 16:41 average, producing a tighter pack than Wallkill Valley, which went 1-5-10-19-28.
Four days later at the Meet of Champions, Holmdel put together a landmark effort, going 5-17-24-42-45 for 133 points and a second-place showing.
Any team aspiring to run races like that needs five capable runners, while a legitimate No. 1 runner would most definitely help the cause. McCafferty had five capable runners both in 2011 and 2012, but 2012 saw the emergence of All-Shore first team selection Jack Baisley, a senior who came on late in the season to help put Holmdel over the top.
“Jack ended up really coming on at the end of the season and last year, we did not have a runner like that at all,” McCafferty said. “I think you need a solid group of five kids that come together and finish very well. I think that was the key to the team. At Holmdel, you have to be in position to run fast over that last mile and that was really the key.”
Along the way, Holmdel won Central Jersey Group II after finishing second at the Shore Conference and Monmouth County Championships.