WMC Cross Country: Recapping the 2021 Season



The 2021 Cross Country season has just come to its conclusion and it was one of immense success. With another season in the books, a close examination of the team’s hard work and performances reveal this year’s great success for West Morris Central Cross Country.

Both the boys and girls teams put in hours of dedication over the summer to prepare for the season. Practices were held with the purpose of increasing the aerobic capacity of runners through extended distance runs. During these practices, the team grew strong bonds that helped them to push each other later in the season. Summer practices also allowed for the freshmen runners to make themselves known to the team and acclimate to the cross country atmosphere. The boys and girls teams also teamed up during the summer to help coach the runners participating in the Long Valley Youth Cross Country program during the summer. The devotion shown early in the season was a strong indicator of what was ahead. 

The first meet the teams took part in was the Roxbury Invitational, which was the first real test for the teams. The JV Boys team once again proved themselves by coming in third overall for the JV race. The JV Boys race at Roxbury was also the beginning to an impressive season by Junior Ryan Weber. Ryan took sixth place in the JV race with a 5k time of 18:21, putting him in a varsity position for the coming races. After Roxbury, the teams competed in dual meets in which West Morris Central went head to head with other teams. This portion of the season helped each runner improve their 5k race strategies, as well as working on improving their personal records. The team hit a slight roadbump when a temporary illness outbreak resulted in minimum attendance for the Shore Coaches Invitational Race in Holmdel, New Jersey. The teams rebounded at the subsequent Stewart Invitational Race at Oak Ridge Park. It was at this race that the varsity team came in first place overall and freshman Lucas Rowland ran an impressive 18:35 earning the school freshman record for any 5k course. 

As November came closer, the teams entered the toughest, yet most rewarding phase. October 19 saw the NJAC Championship race at Greystone Park, followed by the Morris County Championships on October 26 in the same location. On the girls team, senior Shannon Carratura placed in the top 20 runners for both races, and followed those incredible performances with another top 20 finish at the Sectionals race at Oak Ridge Park. It should also be noted that Junior Chris Gelo placed third in both the NJAC Championships JV Race and the Morris County Championships JV race with a times of 18:15 and 18:22 respectively. Following these races was Sectionals at Oak Ridge Park in Clark New Jersey. For all but one runner, this would be the last race of the season. The girls team finished their season with a very successful race at Sectionals. Addison Bray, Bridget Ryan, and Olivia Murello demonstrated dedication and ambition as they stepped up to run varsity for the girls team as freshmen. It was at Sectionals where senior Brandon Chen showcased his strength by coming in first place and beating out the school 5k record on any course with a legendary time of 15:42. With this display of strength by Brandon Chen, he would move on to both the Groups race and Meet of Champions in Holmdel Park. Holmdel Park is an infamous course that has tested the physical and mental strength of runners for years on its various hills and terrains. At the Groups meet, Brandon Chen came in at the number four spot with a time of 16:26. The subsequent Meet of Champions was where the best of the best in New Jersey competed. Brandon Chen finished in 11th place with a Holmdel Park 5k personal record of 15:52.

This season has been one of the most triumphant in West Morris Central history for the cross country program. The support each teammate showed helped to shatter school records and personal records. When asked about the season, the Boys Head Coach, Christopher Johnson said, “While I was very happy with the results of the Cross Country team this year, what most impressed me about this group was the support they give each other in meets and practice.  Every meet runners lost their voice by screaming and yelling for their teammates.  When you hear your teammates yelling for you and you know they have your back it gives you that extra bit of energy to push through the pain.  The support and togetherness of this year’s team was very memorable and a tradition I’d like to see continued.” Perhaps what really made this season great was the leadership and spirit showcased by the seniors. The seniors Shannon Carratura, Shannon DelGuercio, Makayla Early, Elize Fracchiola, and Olivia Monture helped lead the girls team this season. Seniors Matthew Bell, Adam Bliesath, Brandon Chen, Evan Corwin, Andrew DiGabriele, Patrik Kelly, Andrew Rowland, Dylan Mack, and Brayden Sardo were role models to the boys team. Next year’s team has set goals for next year such as continuing to lower the team’s average time and make it to the Groups Meet as a team.