CBA cross country wins another M of C; RBC girls win Non-Public A

By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor

Red Bank Catholic junior Maddie Kopec took fourth in Non-Public A and finished 15th at the Meet of Champions. The Caseys won the Non0Public A title. John Blaine photo

If the calendar says November, rest assured you will find the Christian Brothers Academy boys and the Red Bank Catholic girls excelling in New Jersey’s major high school cross country meets.

On Nov. 17 at Holmdel Park, CBA won the school’s 23rd Meet of Champions title – giving the Lincroft-based school half the championships of the 46 MOCs that have been run. It was their second straight and eighth in the last nine years.

Photo Gallery: Meet of Champions

One week earlier, the RBC girls advanced to the MOC by winning their second Non-Public A championship in three years at Holmdel, while CBA won the same title for the boys.

Despite taking sixth place with a personal best time of 16:00 in the Meet of Champs, Colts senior Tim McInerney said winning as a group was all that mattered.

“First and foremost, the most important thing was the team win, without a doubt,” he said. “That’s our one goal. We never run individually, we only run for the team. We were really excited to bring this home as a team.”

McInerney said the race was a stepping stone for what the Colts hope are bigger things.

“It was a good day overall,” he said. “I think a lot of teams try and peak for this race, but in our training we were treating it as just any other step in the road to get to our bigger goal.”

Which is winning a national championship on Dec. 1. Because that is the ultimate prize, the Colts runners held back as a group during the MOC.

“Individually we all kind of agreed any of us could have gone a lot faster today if we really prepared and said ‘OK we’re gonna go all out for Meet of Champs,’” McInerney said. “But that wasn’t the focus. I think a lot of people will look at it and say ‘Well individually they didn’t run that fast.’ But that wasn’t our goal. Our goal is much bigger than that. This is just a step in the right direction.”

Rounding out the Colts top five were senior Luke Reid (9th place, 16:12), junior Shaw Powell (10th, 16:20), junior Mike Morris (17th, 16:32) and sophomore Tristan Amell (28th 16:54). Powell actually won the Non-Public A meet in 16:14, when McInerney and Reid sat out in order to train harder for the MOC, regionals and nationals.

While it may seem as if not running as hard as possible might leave the team outcome in question, McInerney assured that coach Sean McCafferty has it down to a science.

“It comes with very good coaching and knowing you have the kind of guys that can perform to that ability without going all out and without running to the best of their abilities,” McInerney said. “I can see why people would wonder about that. But coach knew what was gonna happen going in. He knew how much we were going to win by; he knew how it was going to play out. Everything’s structured, there’s always a direct plan, we’re always doing what we want to do.”

McInerney’s life is also well structured thanks to his faith. A parishioner of St. Catharine & St. Margaret Parish in Spring Lake, he has attended Catholic schools his entire life.

“I went to St. Catharine’s growing up and then coming to CBA it’s a very faith-driven, Catholic-driven school,” he said. “Before every race I do my strides out, and I kneel down and I pray. It helps me kind of relax a little bit and calm down. It seems to make everything easier for me.”

RBC junior Maddie Kopec feels the same way. A member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Middletown, Kopec is a member of Red Bank’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle.

“I very strongly lean on my faith,” she said. “At the FCA Huddle we meet every Friday morning, the whole football team and me and my sister. We just kind of talk about a passage every day and we have a message and everything. It’s pretty nice.”

What was also nice was Kopec’s performance in states and MOC. She took fourth in Non-Public A (19:41) while finishing 15th at the MOC in 19:12. Her personal best was 18:59 while taking third at the Monmouth County Meet.

“I’m really happy with how I performed, I had a pretty solid race,” she said after the MOC. “I went out and kept improving my times and negative splitting. It wasn’t a PR but it was a pretty good time for the season.”

Kopec was even more thrilled with the Caseys winning the Non-Public A title, which they claimed by 15 points over Union Catholic. Following her across the line was junior Claudia Satzke (10th, 20:21), freshman Elena Dimitri (12th, 20:45), junior Gionna Curci (14th, 20:47) and freshman Kate DeFilippis (15th, 20:50).

“I was very surprised in my team,” Kopec said. “We had three runners running in a pack together. Once I finished I turned around and saw my whole team finish right after me. It was pretty amazing. It felt great. We won when I was a freshman, we lost (to Union Catholic) by two points last year so it was pretty disappointing. It was exciting to come back this year and run together and run for each other. We made it happen, our main goal this year was to win that state title.”

With just one runner in the top seven graduating (Brooke Formato), the Caseys were not overly upset with their 16th-place finish at the Meet of Champions. Dimitri (20:37), Satzke (20:52), Curci (21:14) and DeFilippis (21:39) rounded out the top five.

“It was pretty disappointing but we all came in trying to run for good times,” Kopec said. “We weren’t expecting to be on top. Our goal was to be on the podium, so it was a little upsetting that we couldn’t get up there. But we’re only losing one girl so I’m very excited for next year. We’ll work hard this summer, our goal is to get on the podium next year and maybe even win that state championship.”

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