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Eustace Mens Cross Country Have Set Their Sites On South Jersey Open

By Bob Grimmie
SJSports Staff Writer

The Bishop Eustace boy's cross-country team finished last season ranked 5 in South Jersey in the Courier-Post's top 20 poll. They began this season with a few questions. Through hard work and some divine intervention, these questions seem to have been answered. Head coach Michael Edmondson lost his number one, three and five runners to graduation. Ben Schuler, one, and Brian Berkley, three, were both first team All-conference and first team All-parochial. Despite these loses, Edmondson has high hopes for this years unit. "I still say that we're a better team this year," said Edmondson. "They've logged more miles, they've done more speed work, now all they've got to do is put it together."

Filling out this year's roster are senior captain Michael McGowan, junior Adam Cirucci and sophomore Ryan Perazzelli. In 1996 McGowan earned honors as an All-conference first team runner and was named to the All-South Jersey team. Perazzelli, currently the team's number two runner, also earned second team All-conference honors that year. Cirucci, the number three runner, was a pleasant surprise for Edmondson. This is the junior's first year on the cross-country team. He came to the first practice with his friend Michael Day, a sophomore. "He's a nice find," said Edmondson. "God was good to me and he gave me Adam."

Eustace finished 7 out of 24 teams in this season's short coaches meet. It wasn't a bad finish, but Edmondson pointed out to his young team that they had finished below Haddonfield, a team they frequently compete with, and took that opportunity to issue a challenge. "Tell me now if you're gonna recommit yourselves to the rest of the season," asked Edmondson. "If we really wanna win the South Jersey Open we're gona have to beat Haddonfield," recounts McGowan.

The coach was more then pleased with his team's response. "The guys told me they wanna work as hard as they can this week to get ready for the open," said Edmondson.

Since that time, Eustace has been working on endurance and speed exercise with more frequency then in the past. These are areas they felt hurt them in the short coaches meet. The team has targeted the Open as a big match for several reasons. First, their main competition should be Haddonfield, a rivalry spurred not out of bad blood but by the number of times they meet, and second, as a young team they could use one big win to boost their confidence for the rest of the season.

"We know that they're (Haddonfield) competition for us and that we're gonna see them in a lot of meets as a good small school. I wouldn't really call it a rivalry but it's something along those lines," said McGowan. "Depending on how we do here it may be a preview to the end of the season. I definitely think a good performance here will help the team later in the season." The South Jersey Open will be on October 18 at Kingsway High School. Bishop Eustace will be competing in the small schools division.

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