A season of challenging out-of-state meets and pack-focused running is paying off for the West Deptford boys’ cross-country team at just the right time of the year.
The Eagles put together a pair of monster performances this past week, placing six runners in the top 30 in a third-place finish at the Gloucester County championships, then following it with five runners in the top 25 at the Colonial Conference meet later in the week.
“Our front four split up a little more than I would have liked, but our top five as a whole ran amazing (at the Colonial),” said coach Mark Drummond, who was particularly impressed by narrow spread—just one minute separated the Eagles’ No. 1 and No. 5 runners.
Ray Parsons was the top runner for the Eagles at Pennypacker Park for the Colonial meet, but not bad as much as he has been at times during this season and previous seasons. Right behind Parsons (16:20) were Dale Johnson (16:25), Kevin Cianfarini (16:42) and Jon Ladner (16:54).
Getting four runners under 17 minutes is something the Eagles haven’t done in a long time.
“This is by far the best this season and best in school history,” Drummond said.
While things were a little slower at the county championships, Drummond said it was more important the team pass the challenge they faced—going against some of the Group 3 and 4 schools in Gloucester County, including Washington Township and Kingsway, the top two at the meet, at a tough course at Gloucester County College.
Those early-season meets at the Belmont Plateau and Brandywine Creek Park ended up being great preparation, Drummond said.
“Our out-of-state Saturday meets have really worked in terms of exposing the team members to tougher courses and competition,” he said. “I think that showed on Saturday as we went toe-to-toe with the much larger schools in our county.”
It was a pack race again for the Eagles, who had their top four runners finish in a 15-second span, led by Ladner’s 16:50.
Most importantly, the back-to-back big performances bode well for the biggest meets of the season—the South Jersey, Group 2 championships at Delsea and states at Holmdel, which loom at the start of November.
“Hopefully we can carry that momentum into sectionals in two weeks,” Drummond said.