High school cross country is a sport dominated by the usual suspects, but occasional surprises emerge to spice up the action.
Bishop Ahr’s boys could be one of them.
The Trojans won the Group II race at the Passaic County Coaches Invitational last weekend and are looking to take the next step at Saturday’s Shore Coaches Invitational. They will enter the Varsity D race at Holmdel Park along with two dozen squads from around the state.
“We’re led by two very good boys and we’ve been able to develop some pretty good balance and depth at the back end,” said coach Scott Runkel, who has 40 athletes on the roster.
Those two pacesetters are juniors Trent Brinkofski and Billy Foster. At Garret Mountain last Saturday Brinkofski broke the tape in a time of 16:48 and Foster placed third in 17:07.
“The two of them are very strong in the third mile,” Runkel said. “Their game is all about stamina in the end.”
Brinkofski comes from a blue-blood cross country family. His older brother Teddy won the Non-Public A gold medal in 2007 with a Holmdel time of 16:04. Older sister Angelica is a scorer for the women’s team at Rutgers University right now.
“Trent got off to a slow start last fall because he was coming off an injury that he sustained as a freshman,” Runkel said. “He didn’t start coming into his own until spring track.”
In the spring Brinkofski ran 9:57 for 3200 meters. Foster also had a big drop on the oval after clocking cross country times in the mid-18s last fall. Throw in sophomore Matt Bialecki (18:14 at Passaic Coaches) and some depth and you have what looks like one of the better squads in the Greater Middlesex Conference.
“We’re a formidable team when we’re running against schools our own size,” Runkel said.
They’ll get the chance on Saturday at 10:50 a.m. The Shore Coaches’ meet features seven varsity races – six grouped by school size and one championship section. Old Bridge will contend in the boys’ championship race, which goes off at 3:15 p.m. Other boys squads to watch include South Brunswick in Varsity A (2:35 p.m.), St. Joseph-Metuchen in Varsity B (2:15 p.m.) and Metuchen in Varsity E (10:30 a.m.).