The Raiders Cross Country Express pulled into The Central Park of Morris County at Greystone in Morris Plains for the Greystone Invitational on Friday. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, head Coach Gerald Ryan said, “I knew the kids were looking forward to running this course. Thanks to social media, our team had read the rumors and hype that the new course layout had produced fast times in prior meets. Me, I don’t believe the hype because it is a sequel. And most people know how I feel about sequels. Sticking with the movie theme here, I am being honest, I had reservations about going to Greystone. It is Friday the 13th and Greystone had the old Psychiatric hospital which had a look like it was the backdrop of a horror movie. My fears of a crazy man in a hockey mask were quelled with the large park police presence. My fears of horror movies aside, I was very pleased with the results from all member of the team today. We were witness to a bevy of PRs, SBs, and 2 new school records.” Since the course has a brand new layout, both Jimmy Quinn and Ellie McCreesh set new school records for the Greystone Course. McCreesh covered the freshly minted paths in a time of 20:43.85, while Quinn raced to a 16:27.96. Quinn’s time was faster than the previous record on the old course ran by Luke Michels which was 16:36.93.
In the freshman race, Nutley saw a new distance of 4000 meters. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, Matt Cozzi stated “We never ran a 4000 before, so we were all amped up about trying the new distance. I like round numbers and 4000 is very round. I know if Coach Ryan laid out the course it would have been a 3997 meter course, which is just weird.” Anish Kumar and Luca Vespa continued to lead the freshman pack turning in times of 15:59, while Vespa was right behind him at 16:05. Matt Cozzi clocked a 16:47 and Alvin Briones raced a 18:27.
The Varsity Girls race saw all senior Ellie McCreesh cross the line in 20:43.85 which set a new NHS School Record for the this course. Her time earned her a 7th place medal in the process. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, McCreesh said “I love this course, it has the perfect mix of uphills and downhills. It just has a great feel to it.” Senior Shawna Lewis turned in a SB of 21:09.22 and in the process earned herself medal in the race. She declined comment at the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo out of upsetting the whole Friday the 13th thing vibe. Freshman Morgan DeFluri made people stand up and notice her by turning in a huge all course 5K time of 22:31.34 to claim the #3 spot for the Raiders. Since making the jump into the varsity 5K, Defluri has ditched the entourage and spiritual advisor that helped guide her through the short courses that she was crushing earlier in the year. Now a veteran of the 5Ks, DeFluri was quoted at the post meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle BacK Zoo, “This place is now my favorite place to run. Yeah I know I raved about Holmdel and all, but I honestly think that was because of the whole DTS thing and the food trucks.” Jaela Small clocked a 22:48.35 which was her fastest time of the year on any course. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, Small said “I liked this course, not as much as I like long and triple jumping in outdoor track, but I liked it, it had a good feel to it.” Running through a very painful hip injury, junior Izzy Bernardo gutted out a 22:48.71. Emily McIntyre was on vacation from her job as Team Meteorologist and was able to focus on her race which saw her clock a 23:04.98 which was her fastest 5K of the year. Senior Taylor Waddleton came in at 23:57.33 to round out the top seven for the Raiders. In the JV Girl’s race, Gianna Marinaro clocked a 25:34.38, while Samantha Abernovich turned in a 28:48.32.
In the Varsity Boy’s Race, Jimmy Quinn’s 16:27.96 earned him a 7th place medal as well as creating a new school record at Greystone. His time was the faster ever run by a Raider on the hallowed grounds of Greystone. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, Quinn said “I absolutely love this course, the new layout was awesome. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I wish we ran our duals here instead of Branch Brook.” Don’t we all Jimmy, don’t we all. Grabbing the #2 spot for the Raiders was Vinny “Sauce” Marinaro who covered the course in 18:32. Kevin Zhang showed the tenacity that makes him such a feared baseball player on the paths clocking an 18:41. At the Post Meet Press Conference sponsored by The Turtle Back Zoo, Coach Toritto said “You know the only thing scarier than Kevin’s 5K time is his throwing arm. It is rumored to be similar to that of Roberto Clemente. I know it is weird considering he was killed in that plane crash the same year that Coach Ryan was born, so that makes him really old, but my dad used to talk about him and I watched old clips of him playing and throwing guys out at home using “El Howitzter. That reminds me of Kevin.” Gerard Dimayuga got under 19 on the course clocking a 18:57. Sean “SB” Bernardo continued his very impressive rookie campaign, crossing in 19:16 for the #5 spot in the Raider lineup. Phil Amiths crossed in 19:21 and Darien Ramirez 20:21 rounded out the Raiders top seven.
In the JV Boy’s race, the Raiders raced to a top five team finish. They were paced by the venerable Abhishek Dixit who clocked a 19:40 and was able to take home a medal for his effort. Yuvraj Raja just missed cracking the 20 minute barrier crossing in 20:05. Brandon DeFluri was right behind him at 20:08 which was a seasonal best for him. “Big Bad” Brian McCormack came in at 20:17, which was just off his SB time. Seniors Ege Dogan(20:47) and Noah Roselli(21:02) both clocked seasonal best times in the 5K. Rich Robinson ran a 23:56 which was his fastest time of the year and Anthony Gola came in at 25:17.
Next up for the Raiders is the Annual Pizza Invitational Cross Country Invitational on Wednesday. The race is held in Yanticaw Park directly behind the Nutley High School and it pits the Raiders against the Buccaneers of Belleville, the Bengals of Bloomfield and the Panthers of Cedar Grove. So come on out and see two sets of cats and two sets of pirate types clash on the 4400-meter course that the NHS Raiders call home. Come on out and support the Raider Harriers in the only true home race of the year, and you can get pizza at the snack stand too.