Stan Fryczynski has been coaching cross country at Secaucus High School for more than 30 years. In fact, he’s been the only cross country coach the school has ever had.
Throughout those three decades, Fryczynski has had some successful teams and solid individuals.
But nothing like what transpired Tuesday at the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference championships at Garret Mountain Park in Woodland Park.
Both the Secaucus boys’ and girls’ teams won the Meadowlands Division championships in impressive fashion, winning convincingly over closest competitor Leonia. The boys won by 15 points, the girls by 24 points.
And the Patriots crowned individual champions as well. Senior Matt Olive won the boys’ title in 18:15, while sophomore Samantha Neshiewat won the girls’ gold medal, crossing the line in 22 minutes flat.
It marks the first time in Fryczynski’s illustrious career that he’s ever had both teams win divisional conference titles at the same time, as well as crowing individual winners.
Needless to say, the guy in the floppy blue bucket hat was a proud coach Tuesday.
“It was the first thing I said to them when we got on the bus, that it never happened before,” Fryczynski said. “By in large, we’ve had a very good winning tradition over the years. But to crown team champs and both individual champs on the same day? That’s really special.”
Fryczynski thought that his boys’ team had a chance to be pretty good this season. He didn’t know they would evolve into a team that went 13-0 in the dual meet season and eventually be crowned as conference champion.
“We went into the summer and fully anticipated the boys’ team to bring us back to the kind of team we used to have,” Fryczynski said. “We spiced up the schedule a little because we felt we had the type of team that could be competitive.”
However, the Patriot girls’ team was a complete surprise.
“Midway through the summer, they were having their captain’s workouts and I started to get the impression that they could make a run at the division,” Fryczynski said. “I started to tell the girls that winning was a possibility. We had some bumps along the road with some injuries and never started the same seven in any meet this season. Only Samantha was the one who ran in all of the events. Sometimes, we’d make the final decision as to who would run on the bus going to a meet.”
So it was definitely a historic day for the Patriots’ cross country program.
Olive said that the boys’ team had been working hard together since the beginning of July.
“It’s a great gift to show that the hard work paid off,” said Olive, who has been with the program for four years. “It’s a great thing that we can share this all together.”
Olive knew that he had a chance to win the race individually.
“Last week, we had a divisional race that I came in first,” Olive said. “That gave me the idea that if everything went well, I could do it again. To be part of something that never happened before makes it even better.”
Neshiewat was not even a cross country runner last year. She joined the outdoor track team last spring and was actually a sprinter, running in the 100, 200 and 400-meter runs as well as the hurdles.
“When I first started, I thought I was going to pass out,” Neshiewat said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to handle the distances. But once I got used to it, I got into it and knew I could do it. It was fun.”
Neshiewat can’t believe that she won the race.
“It’s amazing,” Neshiewat said. “Just to know that me and the whole team could do this. I can’t believe it. I never thought it could happen. It’s too exciting for words. We have a young team and we’ll do well again next year. It’s an awesome experience.”
Others to do well for the Patriots include in the boys’ race: Chris Panepinto (fifth, 18:38); Alfredo Rebaza (sixth, 18:48); Sondy Polanco (seventh, 18:51) and Sean Jeffas (eighth, 19:06).
In the girls’ race: Roshni Patel (second, 22:45); Juliet Nowak (fifth, 23:19) and Katalina Cornello (10th, 23:47)…
Marty Shannon’s stay as the athletic director at Hoboken High School was brief, as he was promoted to a vice-principal role. It meant that Derek England is now the new athletic director at Hoboken.
England, who was the head baseball coach at St. Peter’s College for the last several years, has stepped down from that position due to his commitments to the athletic department at Hoboken. It means that
England, a Hoboken native, will do an excellent job as the AD at Hoboken. He’s a dedicated worker who always has the interests of the athletes at heart…
Here’s an update on the NJSIAA football power point standings. In North Jersey Section 1, Group V, Union City is fifth with 69 points and North Bergen is sixth with 63 points. Both own identical 4-2 records, but Union City defeated North Bergen in the regular season.
In North 2, Group I, Hoboken is solid in front with a 5-1 record and 93 points. In that same section, Weehawken (4-2) has 54 points and is tied for fourth, so the Indians look solid. Secaucus is currently ninth with a 3-3 record and 34 points, but stand 11 points behind eighth-place Dayton Regional.
In North 2, Group II, Lincoln (5-1) is eighth with 69 points, but only one point out of sixth. The Lions win their last two games and they’re in.
In North 2, Group IV, Ferris (2-4) is still alive, sitting in sixth with 32 points. The Bulldogs need to defeat Union City and Kearny and they’re in, although the NJSIAA may extend the bracket to get each bracket to eight, so the Bulldogs remain in the hunt.
In Non-Public Group 1, St. Anthony has sealed a berth with a 5-1 record and 65 points. The Friars are currently third, but can’t drop out, so they’re in. Hudson Catholic (3-3) is fifth and needs one win over Marist or Immaculate Conception of Montclair to get in.
In Non-Public Group 2, Marist (3-3) is fourth with 46 points and needs a win over Hudson Catholic or Morristown-Beard to seal a playoff berth.
In Non-Public Group 4, St. Peter’s Prep (5-1) is fifth with 76 points. The Marauders need wins over Bayonne and North Bergen to get a home game in the toughest bracket in New Jersey…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-1). 2. Union City (4-2). 3. North Bergen (4-2). 4. Hoboken (5-1). 5. Lincoln (5-1)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (12-1-2). 2. Union City (10-3-3). 3. Memorial (10-5-1). 4. North Bergen (5-10-1). 5. Hoboken (6-6-1)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.