The Rosa twins, Jim and Joe, juniors at West Windsor-Plainsboro North, had little trouble defeating defending state champ Tyler Udland in last Saturday’s Group III state championship meet, and Ocean City junior Miles Schoedler, the Group III sectional champ, finished eighth overall to qualify for this Saturday’s Meet of Champions, also at Holmdel.
The Rosas finished in 15:37, about 10 seconds in front of Udland. Schoedler crossed in 16:43.
Overall West Windsor-Plainsboro North won the team championship for the third year in a row with 64 points. Ocean City finished in fifth place in the team scoring with 174 points.
“We had a good day on the always challenging Holmdel Park course, finishing fifth as a team,” said Ocean City coach Matt Purdue. “I don’t think we imagined at the beginning of the season we would end up fifth in the state in November. They have achieved more than I hoped for. They have come together as a team through their dedication, mutual respect, and competition among themselves.”
Last year, led by Brett Johnson, who finished second to Udland, the Raiders finished in seventh place in team scoring. Johnson went on to finished fourth in the Meet of Champions last year, the best finish ever for an Ocean City High School male runner.
Schoedler’s goal this year was to qualify for the Meet of Champions, and he realized that goal last Saturday.
“We are all excited for Mile Schoedler as he continues to the Meet of Champions after finishing in the top 10 at the state meet,” said Purdue. “The team will continue to train this week with Miles. He should have a good shot at breaking into the front pack of runners.”
The Raiders ran a tight pack at the state meet with sophomore Erik Johnson second behind team co-captain Schoedler and 17th overall in 17:08. Senior co-captain Mike Hagan was 25th overall in 17:19 with junior Andrew DeMaria 48th overall in 17:41.
Freshman Dave Gilhooley, sophomore Joe DelVescio and sophomore Dan Murray rounded out Ocean City’s team.
“Erik Johnson broke into the top 20, which should give him a lot of confidence for the big meets,” said Purdue. “Mike Hagan completed a very successful OCHS cross-country career. In his four years on the team, OCHS has won three South Jersey titles, and only lost two dual meets.”
Andrew DeMaria, Dan Murray, DJ Gilhooley and Joe DelVescio all ran their personal bests on the formidable Holmdel course,” said Purdue. “As a coach, that is all I can ask for. The athletes finished the season knowing they ran their best race on the Holmdel Park course.”
The Raiders graduate only Hagan and Kyle McKelvey, both of whom have been with the team for four years. They return 16 of 18 team members.
“The best part is we have strong core group of underclassmen with state championship level racing experience, hopefully returning next year,” Purdue said. “It has been a great experience coaching the 2009 boys cross country team, and I am grateful they have done such an outstanding job representing Ocean City High School.”
Schoedler runs alone in Saturday’s Meet of Champions, the final race of the high school season, and Purdue looks back on some of the factors that contributed to his team’s 10th consecutive Cape May County championship, Cape Atlantic League American Conference championship, and a third straight Group III sectional championship.
“We are especially grateful to our senior student manager Cindy Keenan, who has done an outstanding job as manager for the team over last few years,” he said. “I am grateful for all of the parents and alumni for their support, for coach Bill Moreland returning as a volunteer assistant, and to Mrs. Teri O’Connor for her Yoga instruction. We also thank Mr. Bob Ford for his many years of service as a volunteer course marshal for our home meets.”