Striding into the season with cross country


Eddie Byers

Girls cross country team celebrates after a successful meet

Riley DeMarrais

Stride by stride, Cross Country season is underway. Despite losing some of their top racers, the boys team looks to have another great season.  Four talented seniors will lead the team this year including, captain Stuart Gruters, Alex Kotwick, Dane Oberschmidt, and Thomas Perone. Prior to the start of season, it looked like it would be a rebuilding year, but the this year’s sophomores have stepped up.  Ryan Kleinert, sophomore, is one of the returning varsity runners that is looking to improve upon his mile time from last year. Gruters says, “A good season is going to take everything we’ve got, but I know that all of the Varsity guys are willing to give more. I’m excited for how it’ll turn out.”

The first Varsity meet took place on September 9th at Freedom Park in Randolph with the boys team coming in second overall. Stuart Gruters carried the team to victory, coming in fourth place with a time of 16.51.40.  Other strong finishers for the Bernards team include Alex Kotwick, Thomas Perone, Ryan Kleinert, and Dane Oberschmidt. The team’s second meet on September 16th took place at The Battle at Ocean County Park. The Bernards seniors placed 5th overall.  Stuart Gruters placed ninth overall in the senior age group, with a time of 16.25 in the 3 mile run. Alex Kotwick placed 33rd, with a time of 17.14, Thomas Perone had a time of 17.47 and grabbed the 45th spot, and lastly Dane Oberschmidt came in 51st place with a time of 17.58; another great showing for the Bernards seniors. Sophomore, Ryan Kleinert, placed 13th in his group with a time of 17.38.

Last years boys Cross Country team made it to groups but were not able to qualify for the meet of champions. The boys are looking forward to making their way back to Groups and hopefully qualify for the Meet of Champions; a feat that last year’s team was unable to achieve despite their vast talent. With the pace that the boys are keeping this year, they are certainly on the right track to achieve that goal. “I think we can definitely be better than last year but it certainly won’t be easy,” says senior Thomas Perone.

Not only have the boys been competitive, but the girls are keeping pace as well. Despite losing two tops runners from last year’s team, Ava Cummings and Alyssa Frausto, the girls are off to a strong start. The team is looking to exceed expectations with returning varsity runners  Sage Rudolf, Hadley Meckes, Heather Wright, Deirdre Kelshaw, Caroline McDowell, Meghan Connelly, and promising new freshman, Olivia Musum.  “This year we lost our top two girls, but I can definitely see success in our season with some great returning and new runners. I’m so excited for everyone to see how hard we have been training. It’s gonna be a great season,” says Caroline McDowell. The girls and boys team have been working hard all throughout the offseason in preparation for a successful year.

In both their first and second meets, the girls have placed in the top ten. In the first meet, returning varsity runner Caroline McDowell ran a 20.39.15 in the 5,000 meter run and placed eighth overall. McDowell is one of the strongest runners returning from last year’s team and looks to improve in the 2017 season. Right behind her was Sage Rudolf in tenth place running a 20.44.52. Rudolf, who suffered a broken leg injury last year and was out for the entire season, is back for this years Cross country season and looking for redemption. Coming in 19th and 20th were Hadley Meckes and Olivia Musum. Coming in 24th was senior captain, Deirdre Kelshaw, a team leader and a favorite of both teammates and coaches alike. The girls continued their success in the second meet, placing seventh for the Junior age group and numerous members placing in the top for their individual grades.

The meet that took place on September 27th, just girl and boys varsity attended in Holmdel. This was a dual meet against Rumson Fair Haven. Joined boys and girls races together, many of them placing in the top 10. Stuart Gruters taking a top spot, but team fell short due to missing runner. This meet had one of the toughest courses, notorious for being difficult, they pushed through.

Both captains and Coaches are looking forward to a successful season. “I am really pleased with how the season is progressing so far.  Our veterans have been running very well and are providing great leadership. Our younger runners are improving rapidly and getting stronger every day.  It should be a great season,” says Coach Szostak.