Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Headed to States!

It was a beautiful day at Delsea Regional High School, site of this year's SJ Group III Cross Country Championships.   But the bright sun could not hide the nerves in the pre-race banter of the coaches.   We knew the remnant of runners toeing the line this day had evolved into a very good team.  But we also knew the race's field was deep and fast.   Pre-race prognosticator Christian Cramer had us ranked a tenuous 5th in the section, good enough to qualify for next week's State Meet, but Timber Creek was coming on strong.  We knew the competition would be tough and if we didn't run well.... It could be the end.

Well, our team did everything they could possibly do to keep our season going.  From the gun, every man raced out with speed and conviction.   Top runners Joe Inglis and Kevin Horten quickly mixing it up with some of the best runners in the state.   Christian Cramer, our strong #3, pushed towards the Top 20.    Nick Paoletti settled in as our fourth man.   Mike Barsoum and Kevin Fox went out together, working hard for the 5th spot.  And Paul "Sam Spirgel" Entwistle raced out, closing out the Top 7 for the Quakers.  

And then they raced, pushing through the fast first mile and coming out of the woods looking strong and right on-target.    They settled in and held spots through the second mile.   With a mile to go, Joe Inglis was holding on to the Top 5.   Kevin Horten was surging from 13th place up to the Top 10.   Christian Cramer was holding steady in the mid-20s.   Paoletti holding on to a Top 40 spot.   Barsoum was making up ground around 55th place.   Fox, gutting it out through a late season foot injury, pushed past a runner.   Entwistle continued in PR pace.   Everyone was where they need to be.   The team was running a great race.   All they had to do was finish. 

And finish they did.   In one of the more inspiring team performances, each and every guy hit the track and, with the memory of repeat 800s in their back pockets, proceeded to tear it up.    Inglis surging and finishing 6th overall in 16:09.   Horten showing the best finishing power of the season, passing bodies, rising up to 8th, in a season PR of 16:20.  Cramer crushing the opposition, picking up key spots to finish in 22nd in a PR time of 17:08.   Paoletti almost running down a rival runner from 10 yards behind with 50 to go to PR in 17:29 and finishing 36th.  And, Barsoum.  Dang, Barsoum.   Flying around the curve and picking up valuable points, PRing in 17:45 and finishing 46th.   Points that would hopefully propel us to Holmdel Park. Fox would finish a gutty 6th on the team and Entwistle would finish in 18:35, fittingly a PR.

For the coaches, the best part was the post-race gathering.   The atmosphere was energized.   Guys were hugging and high-fiving.  We knew we had run well, there were big PRs all around.   We had left it out on the course with our best effort of the season.   Now, we waited for the results.    And....   who knows who won SJ Group III?   At the time, not us!   Because the announcement was drowned out by sustained cheer of 15 Moorestown boys, their coaches, their parents, and one alum (Kyle!) as we found out we had done it!  We had grasped the 5th spot.   We were through!  We're number 5!  We're number 5! 

The season is not over.   This team is not finished.   A great race Saturday has bought us one more week. 

Now it is on to Holmdel! 

Special Thanks to Shayan Malta, Greg Munilla, Greg Rothman, Alex Topel, Andrew "put me in coach" Voyack, Harrison Morris, Ty Schneider, Jake Kramer, Marcus Topel and, especially, Captain Reed Kramer for coming and supporting your teammates.   It makes a big difference and your presence was definitely appreciated.   Clear your calendars for next weekend.  Bus leaves at 8:00 for Holmdel Park!