Call it the Cheserek Effect.
When St. Benedict’s junior Edward Cheserek joins a race, runners go out harder. At the Eastern States Championship of the Manhattan College Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park Sunday, Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, N.J. saw Cheserek bolt- but didn’t follow.
“The plan was for us to go out easy and conservatively,” said senior George Kelly of CBA, which is ranked No. 3 nationally. “We knew from our coaches that when Cheserek races, the whole race goes out faster.”
The CBA harriers kept their poise despite 80-degree heat, a fast pace and a fall by their No. 2 runner, Tim Gorman, during the opening, breakneck sprint, scoring 60 points to defeat a stellar 23-team field.
“It just shows how much stronger we are than the rest of the teams,” said Kelly. “We were able to score a really low point total without Tim, who would have only scored five or six points.”
A pair of New York schools, Fayetteville-Manlius (103 points), and Rush-Henrietta (157 points) finished second and third.
“Our fourth and fifth guys (Alex Raymond and Colby Burke) really stepped up,” said sophomore Mickey Burke of Rush-Henrietta, who finished 19th in 13:13.06.
Cheserek blazed through the first mile, leading Tim Ball of Piscataway, N.J., Dustin Wilson of Chesnut Hill Academy of Philadelphia, and Nick Ryan of Fayetteville-Manlius to the bridge. Other runners followed, some perhaps a little too ambitiously.
“I think the heat and the fast start played into our favor,” said Kelly. “I was probably 25ish entering the backhills. … Towards the halfway point (in the backhills) people just started dying. So I was able to start moving up.”
Ball, a senior who was running on the course for the first time, handled it like a veteran, finishing in second in 12:21.02.
“I was really nervous heading into this race,” said Ball. “Once I got to the top of the hill I really let it go.”
Overall, the race was crammed with top teams, with Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) and St. Anthony’s of New York rounding out of the top six. It was tense, crowded, and despite unseasonable heat, fast.
“It’s really a great meet because it mimics what’s going to happen at (the state meet) and at Nationals because there’s so many great teams out there,” said CBA coach Tommy Heath.
Notes: Defending NY State Federation champ Shaker finished in 12th place. Shaker ran without senior Christian Delago, who is still looking to regain his health.