The high school cross country season has just begun, but already, there have been some impressive performances.
One of the best showings so far has come from the very young Memorial team, which fared very well at both the Roxbury Invitational two weeks ago and the Darlington Invitational last week.
At the very competitive Roxbury meet, the Tigers more than held their own, finishing fourth in the team standings, led by brilliant junior Jonathan Matamorous, who finished 10th overall.
Matamorous’ story is an interesting one.
“When he first came to Memorial, he was a varsity football player,” Memorial veteran head coach Julio Lopez said. “But he broke his leg early in the season against Bayonne and that was it for football. He had a good spring running track for us, so I’m not surprised with what he’s done. In fact, nothing he does surprises me. This is his first season of cross country.”
At Roxbury, junior Kevin Villalta was 32nd and sophomore Guillermo Reynoso was 34th overall.
At Darlington in Mahwah, the Tigers finished second as a team behind Clifton, with Matamorous finishing fourth overall in 16:51. Reynoso was seventh in 16:59.
Lopez believes that Matamorous has a very bright future.
“He doesn’t even know how to run yet,” Lopez said. “He goes out too fast. I’m trying to control him. Once he knows how to control his pace, he’s going to be a special runner. He’s run two cross country races and he’s already running 16:51. It’s the second meet of the year. He’s just a very smooth runner and doesn’t waste energy.”
Lopez will take his team to the competitive Passaic County Coaches Invitational this weekend at Garret Mountain Park in Woodland Park, then the Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park next weekend.
“The only problem we have is that we have all juniors,” Lopez said. “They need to have experience. They’ve been training so hard, so I can’t expect to push them in October. But they’re really motivated and that helps.” …
Other local runners to fare well last weekend include Dickinson’s Shaquille Sutherland, who finished second in the junior race at the Bernie Magee Invitational at Warinaco Park in Elizabeth in 16:57.3, St. Peter’s Prep’s Ryan McGann, who finished third in the senior race in 17:01.5 and Brittany Gibson of McNair Academic, who finished second in the girls’ sophomore race in 20:05.6….
Needless to say, the news of St. Peter’s Prep earning a forfeit win in football over Kearny last Friday night is still being discussed all over the state, even the country on some websites.
Kearny cancelled the game because the school’s administration felt that they were not competitive enough to face the No. 4-ranked team in the state and that their players could get hurt in doing so.
However, the powers-that-be in Kearny didn’t decide to cancel the game until 3 p.m. on Friday, four hours before kickoff, when Kearny knew by Monday they were in severe trouble.
“Football games are so precious,” said St. Peter’s athletic director and head football coach Rich Hansen. “You only get so many chances to play. They took four quarters of football away from our guys and they’re not going to get it back. The kids are handling it well. They spent about 15 hours of practice to get ready for a game they didn’t get a chance to play. It’s just disappointing. It’s not fair to our kids. It’s pretty unfortunate.
Added Hansen, “It’s a pretty blatant display of unsportsmanship that I’ve ever seen. It’s a farce. It’s not what football is supposed to be. But we moved on and had the best Monday practice we’ve ever had. I’m excited about the way they went about their business.”
Incredibly, Kearny walked away from facing Prep, but still will face Union City this week. Who’s to say that kids aren’t at risk of getting hurt facing the Soaring Eagles?
“No one told them they had to play Friday,” Hansen said. “Bottom line is that a lot of preparation was put into that game and it was over with one call Friday.”
Hansen was also angered that Kearny waited until game day to make the call. If they called sooner to cancel, then maybe the Marauders might have played against another team last weekend.
“We had a Pennsylvania school that was ready to go,” Hansen said. “There was a chance to get someone, but not on Friday night, not on the day of the game. This isn’t baseball or soccer or basketball. You can’t just cancel a football game like that. There’s a lot of preparation involved.”
Hansen is looking into the possibility of Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League sanctions and penalties against Kearny for pulling out of the game….
Union City’s Jason “Monstruo” Escalera gets his shot at the big time this weekend, when he takes part of the HBO Boxing series, “Boxing after Dark.”
The undefeated light heavyweight, who works in a North Bergen supermarket as a manager during the day, will be part of this weekend’s nationally televised card. A victory might propel him into a true contender’s status…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (3-0). 2. Union City (2-1). 3. North Bergen (1-2). 4. Lincoln (3-0). 5. St. Anthony (3-0)….
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-1-1). 2. Union City (6-1-1). 3. Memorial (5-2-1). 4. North Bergen (3-5). 5. Dickinson (1-5)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.