Holmdel stuns Haddonfield to win Group I state XC title CBA wins Parochial A for seventh straight year

first_img Holmdel stuns Haddonfield to win Group I state XC title CBA wins Parochial A for seventh straight year Craig Segal was triple-teamed all day, racing against the powerful Haddonfield cross country team at Holmdel Park. Segal, who entered the Group II state championship race undefeated, and one of the prerace favorites, knew that he was a marked runner. That’s why he settled in with the group of Haddonfield runners that included Chris Platt, Breton Bonnette and Skip Stiles. “It’s more mental than anything else when you’re racing against a team,” he pointed out. Besides, Segal knew which Bulldawg was his chief rival: Platt. “This was the day something was going to break,” said Segal. “I sat back with Platt. I knew when Stiles was in the lead that Platt wasn’t falling off the pace. He wanted to make it come down to a kick.” At two miles, Stiles was the one who fell off the pace, and it was Platt and Bonnette battling Segal for the state championship. As the trio left the backwoods, it was Bonnette leading the chase to the finish line with Segal and Platt in tow. The race was coming down to a sprint between two of the best runners in the state, Segal and Platt, just as Segal had thought. In their first meeting of the fall, it was Platt who would win the kicker’s battle, 16:10.8-16:12.1, as both runners set Holmdel Park personal bests. “I started to go with him, but he has a great kick,” said Segal. “I didn’t win today, but I got my personal best by 15 seconds, so I can’t be dissatisfied.” What Segal didn’t know was that behind him, while he was losing the battle up front, the Hornets were winning the war. In one of the most stunning upsets in Group II history, the Hornets knocked off a Bulldawg team that was not only ranked No. 1 in the state, but ranked No. 4 in the country, 48-54. “I’m in shock,” said Hornet coach Bill Loughran. “Our goal was to run hard and make Haddonfield work hard for it. We knew that everyone would be watching them. We never thought that we had a chance. But that’s why you run the race.” Indeed. What no one could predict was that Stiles would develop physical problems shortly after Bonnette, Segal and Platt had passed him. At first, he slowed down; then he stopped, and ultimately, he did not finish the race. The Bulldawgs were vulnerable without their No. 2 runner, and with the Hornets pushing hard from start to finish, it paved the way for the huge upset. Haddonfield’s first-, third-, seventh- and ninth-place finishes from its first four runners had them in the lead, but the Hornets prevailed when their fifth runner, Quraish Ghadiali, came home 27th overall (17:53.3), but 21st in team scoring. That was 13 positions up on Haddonfield’s No. 5 and wiped out the seven-point Bulldawg lead after four runners. Paul Merces (17:08) and Leonardo Vignone (17:23.6) were ninth and 11th overall, but sixth and eighth in team scoring for Holmdel. The Hornets’ No. 3 man was Edward Li (17:29.9) — 14th overall, but 11th in the team competition. All in all, the Hornets came up with a dream race with all five of their scorers putting forth maximum efforts. “I’m speechless,” Segal said after hearing of Holmdel’s triumph. “Our mindset was to go as hard as we possibly could.” Saturday was a day of redemption for Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft. The Colts had seen two 19-year winning streaks come to an end this year at the Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships and were in no mood to let another one, Parochial A, slip away. And in the tightest finish of the day, CBA nipped Don Bosco Prep by a single point, 58-59, to win its seventh straight state title. Don Bosco put two runners across the finish line before the Colts, but CBA prevailed because its five scorers were packed closer together. Will Melochik (17:03.1) and Jeff Peterson (17:05.4) were seventh and eighth for the Colts. For CBA, Patrick Ryan was 11th (17:08.8), Angelo Petraglia was 14th (17:24.8) and Mike Durso was 18th (17:31.2). Less than 30 seconds separated the Colts five, while Don Bosco’s difference was 1:00. St. John Vianney’s Eric Walker was 10th (17:08.2). In Parochial B, Tom Santifort of Mater Dei ran a 17:23.9 and finished in sixth place. The Seraphs were fourth (150) behind the Shore area’s St. Rose of Belmar, which won the B title with 56 points. Nicole Lombardy led Middletown South’s girls to a third place in Group III with her second-place finish behind the state’s No. 1 harrier, Jesse Mizzone of Passaic Valley. Mizzone ripped off an 18:46.5 in taking the state title, while Lombardy clocked 19:32.5, which was the fourth fastest of the day. For the Eagles, Kolleen McCauley (20:48) was 14th overall, and Tina Morrison (20:52.8) was 16th. The Eagles, who scored 82 points, finished behind Hopewell Valley (59) and North Hunterdon (69). In Parochial A, St. John Vianney’s Laura Carpenter ran a 20:26.5, which put her in eighth place. The Holmdel school’s Lancers (137) were sixth in the race that was won by Red Bank Catholic. Over in Parochial B, Jen Michal of Mater Dei was ninth (21:10.3), and teammate Ashley Thompson was 11th (21:11.5). The Seraphs finished fifth (153). Pope John XXIII was the champion (57). The Top 10 individuals and top three teams at the state Group championships plus wild cards qualified for Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Holmdel Park. The only local harrier to advance to the MOC through the wild card was Middletown South’s Dan Ciambrone, who earned one of the 10 wild cards with his 17:04.3 in finishing 11th at the Group III race. Despite his runner-up finish, Segal is very much a contender for the state title. His time was the third best of all the groups, trailing only the favorite, Marc Pelerin of Cherokee (16:08.4 in winning the Group IV title), and Platt. Lombardy is in a good position to claim all-state honors with another effort like the one she had in the Group III race. By tim morris Staff Writer last_img