Before the current high school cross country season began, veteran St. Peter’s Prep head coach Mike Burgess knew he had the makings of a champion.
So much so that Burgess delayed his retirement from coaching. Burgess was all set to step down after last outdoor track season after more than 30 years of service. But when Burgess realized what he had returning and the prospects of greatness, he decided to delay his departure just a bit.
“Cross country is my pet project,” Burgess said. “One of the reasons why I came back was to coach this team. We have a great group of seniors. It’s one of the fastest teams I’ve ever coached. It’s so deep that the lineup changes every other meet. That’s how competitive they are. Our sixth through ninth runners would be on any other team in the county.”
Last weekend at the Hudson County Track Coaches Association’s championships, the Marauders had their true defining moment, blowing past the rest of the county en route to the team title.
Then, a few days later, they achieved a slice of history. Competing for the first time ever in the New Jersey State Prep Schools Championships, the Marauders captured the Prep “A” team title, also in convincing fashion.
It gave credence to why the Marauders earned their first-ever state ranking a few weeks ago.
Leading the way was senior Jimmy Sause, who continues his brilliant campaign. Sause won the overall HCTCA title by crossing the line in a blistering 16:03.60, six seconds ahead of runner-up Jhonathan Matamoros of Memorial.
“The unique thing about it was that three or four weeks ago, Jimmy didn’t make the trip to Rochester [for the McQuaid Jesuit Invitational],” Burgess said. “He wasn’t one of our top runners. But he didn’t quit and showed great spirit. He was determined to come back and lead this team and that’s what he’s done. He’s a great leader and I admire him for that. It’s a beautiful thing to see him improve so much in such a short time. We can definitely say who our No. 1 runner is now.”
Senior Fritz Heinrich was third in 16:19.50, followed by sophomore Brandon Parrado in 16:40.10 in fourth. Teammate Chris Butko was sixth in 16:51.10, with sophomore Will Delaney (16:55.20) right behind the senior Butko in seventh.
Senior David DeLeon was ninth in 16:58.80 and sophomore Billy Fitzpatrick was 12th in 17:00.20.
All seven Marauder runners just missed finishing under 17 minutes.
“It was a great victory,” Burgess said.
Plus, the Marauders won the title without the services of top runner Danny Apicella, who is nursing an injury.
At the state Prep School championships, the Marauders outraced runner-up Pingry and perennially strong St. Benedict’s Prep in the race in Blairstown.
Sause finished sixth overall in 16:30, followed by DeLeon, who was seventh, and Delaney, who was tenth.
The Marauders will now head to the NJSIAA Non-Public A North group championships at Holmdel Park on Nov. 9 with a sense of accomplishment.
“If they can carry that confidence, people better watch out,” Burgess said. “The goal is to get to the Meet of Champions and if that happens, it would be a nice sendoff for these seniors. They’re very confident they can go out there and run with the best in the state.”…
In the HCTCA girls’ championships, Brittany Gibson of McNair Academic won easily, crossing the finish line in 19:00.70, some 18 seconds better than the rest of the field. Teammate Eileen Flood was fourth.
Secaucus finished second as a team behind winner Kearny. Samantha Neshiewat was fifth and Roshni Patel was seventh for the Patriots.
Allison Guajala of Union City was sixth, Melissa Winters of St. Dominic Academy was eighth and Vanessa Saiboo of Dickinson was ninth…
Long-time Secaucus softball coach Cherryl Bott announced her resignation last week. Bott, the 2013 Hudson Reporter Softball Coach of the Year, led the Patriots to a pair of firsts last spring, namely the school’s first-ever Hudson County Tournament championship and the school’s first-ever NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I crown.
“At least I went out on a nice note,” said Bott, who spent seven years as the head softball coach and previously had a six-year stint as the head girls’ basketball coach. “It was a little sad meeting with the girls. They were crying. I was crying.”
But Bott has decided to forego coaching so she can watch her son, Anthony, play high school baseball at Rutherford High. Bott has another son, Jack, who will enter high school in a few years.
“I had to make a choice and family comes first,” Bott said. “The circumstances behind the decision certainly make sense. I want to be there for my sons. I wasn’t willing to compare schedules and juggle everything to get from one place to the other. I knew the decision was going to pop up as I tried to figure everything out. I always said that there were only two reasons why I would give up coaching and those are my sons.”
Bott said that she walks away with so many memories, none better than last spring’s championship run.
“I still love coaching,” Bott said. “I just felt this was the right time to step away.”
No word on Bott’s replacement. She will be sorely missed by all in the Secaucus athletic family…
There were some great performances in high school football last weekend, some of which were among the very best in the state.
Once again, St. Peter’s Prep standout back Jonathan Hilliman paved the way, motoring for 268 yards on 23 carries and scoring five touchdowns in the Marauders’ 42-0 win over Bayonne.
Weehawken quarterback Oliver Molano rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the Indians’ tough 45-42 loss to Wallington. It was the top rushing total by a signal caller in the state.
Hudson Catholic’s sensational Syhien Simmons continued his fabulous freshman campaign, collecting 236 yards and three touchdowns in the 40-6 win over Marist.
Devell Jones of Lincoln (185 yards, two TDs), Javier Lopez of Weehawken (169 yards, 1 TD) and Jonathan Castellano of Union City (140 yards, 1 TD) all had great games for their respective teams…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (7-1). 2. Union City (5-2). 3. Lincoln (6-1). 4. Hoboken (5-2). 5. North Bergen (4-3)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. Memorial (14-5). 2. St. Peter’s Prep (16-3-1). 3. Bayonne (8-10-1). 4. North Bergen (8-11). 5. Secaucus (9-9-2)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.