Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ—7 months, 7 long months we have waited for anything to happen in this town but Nutley Athletics, specifically the Raider Cross Country teams are back in action! New head coach, Kara McNish is set to take on her role in a new era of the program. She has plenty of senior stalwarts to rely on to make the transition to the helm, natural and swift. With the start of the season being delayed due to COVID-19, the Boys XC team were the first to get things started off right on a warm, sunny day over in the beautiful confines of Branch Brook Park. As the Super Essex Conference has created precautions to keep everyone safe this season, Nutley will be racing a staggered schedule, with boys competing Tuesdays and girls Wednesdays against all conference opponents over the next few weeks in Newark at Branch Brook.
The Boys XC team came out firing against the Buccaneers of Belleville and the Boys of Eagle Academy. Led by experienced upper class men there was also a surge of new blood gracing us with a glimpse at what the future holds for this great program. Senior Captain Sean Bernardo dominated the course with a time of 18:34, placing first, and flexed his muscles to the rest of the conference for what they will be going up against the rest of the season. Bernardo looked pleased after the race but knows he got a lot left in the tank for his final season with Nutley XC. Coming right behind him in 2nd ,was senior Anish Kumar at 20:30. Kumar looked great in his last opening day meet in his final season in the maroon and grey. Rounding out the rest of the top 7 senior finishers was Tyler Chang 20:44 and Luca Vespa 21:44 who both finished 4th and 6th respectively. Both look to play a huge role the rest of the way for the Raiders. The future is looking bright! The lone sophomore on the roster and a lightning bolt of a personality showed what he can bring for the next few years. Justice Rivera 20:48, surged to a 3rd place finish and really flashed what he is going to bring to the table for the squad in the future. Freshman Ryan Budnick 21:02, also debuted an impressive first start and looked like an experienced vet running through the course to finish 5th overall. Rounding out our top 7 was our fearless leaders younger offspring, Junior, James “Jimmy B” Bernardo coming in at 23:24 and Dan “The Man” Harrington coming in at 24:28 rounding out the 9th and 10th spot overall, to solidify a victory for the squad! Also competing and finishing hard were Alvin “Big Al/Alan” Briones, Zihon Azama, Saumya Dwivedi and the young sensation, Peter French. Overall Nutley took home two wins, sweeping both teams with a perfect 15 vs. both squads.
Nutley Girls XC will be competing tomorrow (10/7) at Branch Brook Park, gun goes off at 4:20 PM, stay tuned for highlights right here and all season long! Coach Ritacco out!