Track preview: Chatham boys growing successful tradition

Track preview: Chatham boys growing successful tradition

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Track preview: Chatham boys growing successful tradition

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CHATHAM

Parth Shah still remembers Chatham workouts when he was a freshman. What really made an impression was the determination of the senior class, the focus and work ethic they passed down to the rest of the squad.

Now that Shah is a senior co-captain for the Cougars track and field team, he is trying to extend those traditions and build a legacy. The squad has ballooned to 98 boys, the largest in head coach Pat Barry’s tenure. There are 41 sophomores, the biggest individual group. Barry has high expectations for youngsters like sophomore sprinter Nick Ferrone, sophomore distance runner Liam Hynes, who came over from cross country, and freshman Jaylen Haye.

“I don’t see a down side to it,” said Shah, a middle-distance runner. “There’s always people running around. You always see movement. With this big a team, everyone’s motivated.”

The middle-distance and hurdles teams are at Chatham’s heart. The 4×800 — Shah, classmates Andrew Vena and Dominic Vernazza, and sophomore Kevin Gesell — has already met the Penn Relays qualifying standard, and hopes to receive an invitation to the prestigious three-day meet. The Cougars are also drawing on their North 2 Group III champion cross country squad, led by junior Will Mitchell, who placed third.

Senior John Walsh won the 55-meter hurdles at North 2 Group II, as well as the Morris County high jump title indoors, and is tied for the No. 1 mark all season at 6-foot-4. Mitchell was the Cougars’ lone qualifier for the both NJSIAA cross country Meet of Champions and in winter, running the 3,200.

Chatham also set school records in the 4×400 and 4×800 indoors.

Like almost every other local team, the Cougars haven’t had a lot of time on their own track. They got outside for two or three practices during the indoor season, and spent others cross training by shoveling snow off the track. Chatham even had to forgo a scheduled scrimmage with Shore Reg. — where girls coach Julie Ullmeyer’s father, Mel, is the head coach — on March 22 because the fields were still waterlogged.

“The adversity makes camaraderie, because you’re all dealing with the same issues,” junior Philip Heller said. “It helped us bond as a team.”

Another Cougars hurdler, junior Harris Eisenhardt, pointed out that after months training on concrete and tile, the track and artificial turf at Cougar Field have added bounce.

“Doing it in such hard circumstances made doing it in an arena much easier,” he said. “We remember to have fun when we’re running.”

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