By Tim Morris |
Even before Troy Hill followed his brother Brian to Christian Brothers Academy, they had talked about going to the Nike Cross Nationals together.
And now, it is no longer talk. On Nov. 25 in Wappingers Falls, New York, the Hill brothers helped CBA, competing as Brothers XC Club, qualify for the Dec. 2 Nationals in Portland, Oregon, after finishing second at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional at Bowdoin Park.
The Colts were second to Connecticut’s Xavier Distance, 112-123, in the Boys Championship race. Only two teams from the Regional advanced to the nationals.
“That’s (Nike Nationals) been the goal,” said Brian, a senior. “It’s special to have a brother to go with. It’s definitely big.”
Troy, a sophomore, noted the Hill brothers take their running very serious and going to the nationals together is a product of that dedication. Troy also noted his brother is the poster boy for serious runners.
“It’s great to be going to the nationals together,” Troy said. “He’s (Brian) such a hard-working person and he’s been a great leader on the team.”
Troy said that without his brother he wouldn’t be the runner he’s become.
“I am where I am today because of him,” he remarked.
For his part, Brian admires his younger brother’s drive.
“He’s very self-motivated,” the older Hill pointed out.
It was Brian, as he has all year, who led CBA at the Regional. He finished in eighth place overall and seventh for team scoring covering the 5K layout in 16:23.7. With that eighth place, he earned Second Team All-Northeast East honors.
Completing CBA’s scoring were: Luke Reid (16:39.5), Tim McInerney (16:45.0), Ryan Miele (17:02.3) and Troy Hill (17:06.2). In team scoring they were 11-19-40-46.
Brian Hill noted that while the Colts were disappointed in not repeating as Regional champions, he added that “ultimately the Regional is a qualifier” and that’s what CBA did, qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals.
This is the ninth straight year that the Colts have qualified for the Nationals. The Colts won it all back in 2011 and finished second in 2013. They were seventh last fall.
Brian Hill said having been there before is plus. He noted that there are many distractions that can take a team’s mind off the race itself. First time participants don’t’ always handle different distractions well.
“Experience is definitely an advantage,” said Brian.
While she isn’t going to Portland, Middletown South’s Maddie Brand nevertheless had a “great time” at the Regional. The Eagle senior finished seventh in the Girls Championship race earning First Team All-Northeast Regional recognition for her effort (19:04.5).
“I’m really, really happy with my race,” she said. “I’m so thrilled with how my senior season ended.
“I was disappointed in how I ran at the Meet of Champions and that’s not the way I wanted to end it (season). I wanted to make my last race great,” she added.
Brand had never run the Bowdoin Park course before and believed it ended up helping her. “I thought it kind of helped me not knowing what to expect,” she explained.
What Brand quickly learned was the narrowness of the course making it difficult to pass runners. At two miles, Brand found herself in 13th place and proceeded to “start picking people off.”
She finished strong moving up to seventh place making the Regional First Team.
Brand wasn’t just happy for herself. “The team did awesome finishing in 10th place,” she pointed out. “We started the season with the goal of finishing in the top 10 in the state and we ended up finishing 10th in the Northeast.” South ultimately finished fourth at the Meet of Champions.
Brand pointed out that the Eagles, competing as Middletown South XC, took a relaxed approach to the race and it paid off. “We didn’t put pressure on ourselves,” she said. “We wanted to go out and have fun and enjoy our last race together.”
Kathleen Shay, a junior, and South’s number two harrier, finished 26th overall helping the Eagles to their 10th place (277).
Red Bank Regional’s Charlotte Cochrane is another senior who finished her scholastic career in style. She finished 29th (19:51.7) one week after joining Brand on the medal podium at the Meet of Champions.
Red Bank Catholic, which competed as Runners High Racing Club, ended its season on a high finishing eighth (259). Maddy Kopec (20:11.4) and Bridget Byrne (20:25.2) led the Caseys taking 22-31 in team scoring.
Colts Neck, the Group 3 state champions, hoping to be among the Region’s best teams, had to run without their top runner, Colleen Megerle, who was ill. Delia Russo led the Cougars, who were 22nd (484) in 33rd (20:26.4).
This article was first published in the Nov. 30. -Dec. 7, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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