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Raiders Compete at Prestigious Shore Coaches Invitational

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The Nutley Raiders made the 41.5 mile journey south on Route 444, better known as the Garden State Parkway, to race with the top teams in the state at the Shore Coaches Invitational held at the spacious and absolutely gorgeous Holmdel Park.  When reached for a comment, bus driver Anthony “Sauce” Cefalo said, “It feels like a summer day, I am glad it wasn’t because then we would have hit traffic and the kids may have been late to the meet. But that aside, I like it down here, the farms are nice. And one other thing, what is the deal with the kid on Cross Country team who stole my nickname?”  The Raiders ran well despite warm and muggy conditions.  At the Pre Meet Press Conference sponsored by the US Coast Guard, junior runner/team Meteorologist Emily McIntyre was quoted, “I am seeing lots of dominant upper-level ridging over New Jersey for at least 10 more days, if not longer. The lower-mid levels will cause this warm and muggy feeling to ‘stick’ around through this weekend. No pun intended.  Then we have to deal with Nate which should reach our area by Monday and linger around until Wednesday.  But hey we need the rain, so it will help.” When asked to put it in layman’s terms, McIntyre replied “It’s hot”. Fellow junior Izzy Bernardo agreed with McIntyre, except she feel the effects of Nate may linger until Thursday.

The Girls Varsity team started off the day for Raiders.  The Raiders were down a few varsity racers due to an odd combination of illness, injury and SATs.  Competing in the stacked Varsity D race, the Raiders were led by senior Ellie McCreesh who clocked a 21:53 and was just out of medal contention.  She was quoted at the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, “You know I am getting really tired of this weather.  We had a challenging course, great competition, and a good week of training.  It would have been nice to hit a grand slam and get great weather, but we had to settle for a trifecta. Weather aside, I was happy with the way I ran.  I came through in 7, then hit the 2 mile mark at 14:17 and was able to finish strong.”  Junior Kate Contini was cruising along in her race until she hit the downhill and unfortunately rolled her ankle.  Coach Ryan was quoted at the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, “I feel so bad for Kate, she was just cruising along and on pace to run a mid 23, then the ankle roll.  She is one of the toughest kids I have coached, she kept going and ran a good time with a 24:01 with a bad ankle. Now to be honest it looks like she has a small grapefruit attached to her ankle.”  Junior Izzy Bernardo ran a great race and clocked a 24:06.  At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference Bernardo told the NJ Sports Media folks,”I felt great today, we were on a tough course, and there were some fast runners in that D race.   I struggled a bit on the Roller Coasters, but felt that I bounced back well and I was happy where I was coming out of The Bowl.”  Freshman Morgan Defluri was pressed into varsity service due injuries, illness and SATs.  She showed the confidence of a wily veteran runner conquering the challenging trail in a lifetime best of 24:42. At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, DeFluri told the world, “I was happy that we weren’t running at Branch Brook, this place is awesome.  That uphill is a killer way to start a race, but then I settled in and was able to gain confidence over the Roller Coasters.  To be honest I was a bit nervous about The Bowl because of all the stories you hear about it, but I felt for my first time through it I did well.  You know I am getting used to this 5K thing.” Once Emily McIntyre was down wowing the media at the US Coast Guard Pre Meet Press Conference with her Meteorological prowess, she turned in a time of 25:22 for the 5th spot in the Raider lineup.  Gianna Marinaro came in at 28:45 for the six spot.

The JV Boys went off right after the Girl’s Varsity race.   The Boy’s were lead by Darien Ramirez and his 20:47. At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Ramirez stated ” This is a course where you separate the men from the boys. It is very tough especially for taller runners like me, we have to look up for low tree branches and down for loose footing.  Thank God I am a great multi-tasker and can handle that.”  Grabbing the #2 spot for the Raiders was Abhishek Dixit who clocked a 21:20. When asked for his thoughts on the race at the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Dixit said, “tough course, great runners, even better food trucks.”  Brandon DeFluri clocked the #3 time for the Raiders at 22:03.  Luis Hordista(22:19) and Brian McCormack(22:31) rounded out the top 5 for the Raiders.  Ege Dogan(22:48) and Noah Roselli(23:01) were te 6/7 runners for the Raiders. At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference,Roselli said, “I have to go back to way I ran earlier, when I would get into a zone thinking about Senior Class and not even think about the race.  Today I was thinking about the course too much and feel like if I would have thought about the Homecoming Dance on Friday, I would have been faster.”

Coach Danielle Toritto competed in the Coaches Against Hunger Race.  In addition to running a very impressive 23:30, she helped raise hundreds of dollars for a great cause.  She wanted nothing to do with both the US Coast Guard Pre Meet Press Conference and the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference.  So there are no quotes here. Coach Ryan said “I am very proud of her, she sets a great example for our team.”

The Boys Varsity team went off in the “C” race later in the afternoon.  The race featured 2016 NJ Meet of Champions team winner Princeton HS as well as other NJ powers Seton Hall Prep, Indian Hills, Morris Hills, and Colts Neck.  Senior Jimmy Quinn lead the Raiders and wound up being the lone medalist for the team with his 12th place finish coming in at 17:14. At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Quinn stated, “I felt good for most of the race, I was able to stay with Dan(Gizzo from Seton Hall Prep) for about 2 1/2 miles but then with about 1000 meters left in the race my legs felt heavy. I was hoping to stay with that lead pack for a while longer.”  Nick Duca clocked a 18:47 for the #2 spot in the Raider lineup. When reached for a comment at the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Duca said ” I love this place, it reminds me of being down the shore, but $5 for a lemonade is ridiculous.”  Junior Kevin Zhang showed by far the most grit and determination of anyone of the Raiders not named Kate clocking an impressive 19:18 and passing three runners in the final 25 meters of the race.  Zhang was quoted at the end of the race coming out of the chute, “Where is Brother Lamar and the TP?”  After sorting out the nickname thing with his bus driver, Vinny “Sauce” Marinaro covered the trails in 19:24.  Gerard Dimayuga was a stride behind “Sauce” the runner, not Sauce the Bus Driver, in 19:25 to claim the 5 spot for the Raiders.  Freshman Sean “SB” Bernardo conquered the paths of Holmdel in 20:34. At the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Bernardo stated, “This is a tough course, I haven’t ridden roller coasters like that since my last trip to Great Adventure.”   Phil Amiths raced a 20:58 for the 7 spot in the Varsity lineup. When asked for a few words at the Turtle Back Zoo Post Meet Press Conference, Amiths said “Oh man, that Bowl was so much tougher than it was two years ago.  Did they change it?”

Next up for the Raiders is the Greystone Invitational on Friday held on the freshly minted paths at the Central Park of Morris County at Greystone.  Shawna Lewis was quoted on the bus ride home, “We are running at Greystone on Friday the 13th? I wish the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital was still up, it would be like running a race in the middle of a horror movie.”

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