• CBA harriers add new chapter to their storied MOC history

    first_img Middletown High School North’s Tom O’Neill sprints toward the finish line and victory at the NJSIAA Cross-Country Meet of Champions (MOC), held on Nov. 21 at Holmdel Park. The junior became the first Lions’ runner to win the MOC title, recording the 12th-best time in course history, 15:31. ERIC SUCAR staff The word quickly began circulating around Holmdel Park — Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) was not running any of its top five harriers at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions (MOC) on Nov. 21.It left everyone a little stunned and contemplating what it meant. Certainly, the Colts were the deepest team in the state (and the country for that matter, as the top-ranked team in the nation), but could their so-called “B” team be good enough to capture the MOC title?The general feeling was that in pursuit of a second straight Nike Cross Nationals championship, the Colts were going to have to surrender their state title. However, in one of its finest hours, or rather minutes, the CBA “B” team wrote another chapter in the program’s storied history by winning the MOC anyway and extending its record to 18 victories.The Colts won with a team score of 110, which was 23 points better than runner-up Holmdel High School.“This was pretty good,” said head coach Tom Heath. “We are rolling.”Heath said that as soon as the MOC date was changed from Nov. 17 due to Hurricane Sandy, he knew he was not going to run his top five at the MOC because three days later (Nov. 24), his team had to run in the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Qualifier at Wappingers Falls, N.Y. He would take his chances with the team’s next five.“I had to do what was best for the program,” noted Heath.On the short bus ride from the CBA campus to Holmdel Park, Heath said he could tell his harriers were nervous. For most, it would be their first MOC experience.“I told them there was no down side,” Heath said. “If you do bad, I’ll take the blame. Just relax and be focused.”Heath added that he really believed that his team still had a chance to win the MOC and his Colts went out and proved him right. Senior Aaron Liberatore, who had MOC experience, pointed out that he tried to help his teammates relax and take the pressure off them. He explained to them what to expect in the race.“For the underclassmen, this was their first MOC,” said Liberatore. “I told them they were surrounded by the tradition of CBA. Everyone had to step up and they did.“Everyone knew what they had to do and did it,” he added. “Everyone ran or matched their [personal best].”Liberatore was the first Colts runner to finish, placing 25th overall in 16:17. For team scoring, the senior was 13th.Behind Liberatore came sophomore Josh Kruppa (16:22), junior Andrew Reda (16:32), freshman Blaise Ferro (16:37) and sophomore Greg Paugh (16:46). For team scoring, they were 15-22-27-33.CBA won the race in the final 1,000 meters of the 5K race with everyone charging past runners ahead of them, gaining points with every stride.Liberatore said the difference in those final 1,000 meters was that the MOC “means more to us than anyone else.”Following the example of their teammates, CBA’s rested “A” team, running as the Brothers XC, captured the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional for the second straight year over Pennsylvania power, Cardinal O’Hara XC Club, 73-90.Jack Boyle led the country’s No. 1 team, posting a 15:57.5. Billy Bragg (16:14.6), Mike McClemens (16:18.8), Tom Rooney (16:43.3) and Kruppa (16:44.6) followed behind him. In team scoring they were 3-8-10-19-33.It’s on to the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 1 in Portland Ore. for the Colts. They will be looking to become the first repeat champion in the nine-year history of the national championship race. That has been the season-long goal for the Colts and it is now just one race away. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer last_img

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