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Cross Country Preview:
Cherokee Chiefs

Tuesday, August 25, 1998

By Steve Shaklee
Cherokee Varsity Boys Coach

The Cherokee Cross-Country team is coming off of the best year in the history of the program. Last year, the team won the Burlington County Championship, the Olympic Conference Championship, the South Jersey Group 4 Championship and the State Group 4 Championship (first in school history). The Chiefs went on to place 3rd in the State Meet of Champions and earned the #1 ranking in South Jersey and 3rd in the State.

The loss of Senior co-captains, Matt Urbanovich and Jeff Storch (an All-South Jersey Track Selection) will hurt, but the team has a good group of 5 returning varsity competitors. Last year's team leader, Ben Werbos, is back and looks to be one of the top runners in the State. He will get plenty of help from his Senior teammate, Aaron Boucher, who had an outstanding season in his first year of Cross Country last Fall. Boucher went on to earn All-South Jersey Honors in Spring Track placing 6th in the State Meet of Champions in the 800 Meter Run. Junior Joe Halin also ran Cross-Country for the first time last Fall and made an immediate impact placing 23rd in the State Group 4 Championships. Rounding out the top 6 should be three other Juniors, Dave Sitzer, Mike Caputi and Gregg Robinson. Sitzer missed cross-country last year due to injury but had a tremendous Spring Track season placing 5th in the Group 4 State Meet in the 800 Meter Run. Mike Caputi also had a great Spring season highlighted by his 4:27.5 7th place finish in the 1600-Meter Run at the South Jersey Group 4 Sectionals. Last Fall, he was consistently Cherokee's 5th to 7th man. Gregg Robinson came on strong at the end of the season last Fall placing 59th in the State Meet of Champions, one of the top sophomore performance in the State. An injury ended his Spring season early but he should be ready to go for the Cross Country Championships in October and November. The 7th position on the squad is up for grabs with Seniors Mike Urbanovich and Matt Fry, along with Sophomores Kevin Hurley and Josh Joseph looking like the strongest challengers. Urbanovich had the strongest track season of the group, running 2:03, 4:41 and 10:14 for the 8, 16 and 3200 respectively.

If everything comes together, the 1998 Cherokee Cross-Country Team could surpass the 1997 squad and contend for the top spot in the State. It will not be an easy task, however, as several other South Jersey teams look to be quite strong as well. Washington Township, Paul VI, Highland, Shawnee and Triton head the list of outstanding programs capable of making an impact at the State level. It looks to be an interesting Fall with a lot of very competitive races!

Some Feature Runners Information: Ben Werbos 12 - 1997 All-SJ Group 4, All-County, All-Conference, 10th in S.J. Group 4, 15th in Group 4 State Meet, 34th in State Meet of Champions. Ran 4:28.2 for 1600 and 9:42.0 for 3200 in Spring Track. Aaron Boucher -1998 All South Jersey in Track, 1997 - 2nd team All-Conference, 2nd team All-County, 15th in S.J. Group 4, 20th in Group 4 State Meet. Ran - 1:56.3 (County Champion) for 800, 4:26.7 for 1600 and 51.0 for 400 in Spring Track. Joe Halin 11 - 1997 2nd team All-Conference, 2nd team All-County, 23rd in Group 4 State Meet. Ran 4:33.1 for 1600 and 9:51.5 for 3200 in Spring Track. Mike Caputi 11 - 1997 2nd team All-County, Cherokee Challenge Sophomore Race - 1st place, 53rd in Group 4 State Meet. Ran 1:58.2 for 800, 4:27.5 for 1600 and 9:56.2 for 3200 in Spring Track. Gregg Robinson 11 - 1997 - 60th in Group 4 State Meet, 59th in the State Meet of Champions! Ran 9:23 for 3000 Meters in Spring Track. Dave Sitzer 11 - 1997 - injured. Missed Cross-Country season. Ran 1:56.5 for 800, 4:28.1 for 1600 and 9:51.8 for 3200 in Spring Track. Some Key New Players: Dave Sitzer (11) - See above. Mike Urbanovich (12), Matt Fry (12), Kevin Hurley (10), Josh Joseph (10).

Coach Steve Shaklee's Top Teams in Conference:

  1. Cherokee
  2. Washington Township
  3. Highland or Shawnee

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