Knights reach Meet of Champions running well


Staff Writer

The Old Bridge High School boys cross country team earned a return trip to Holmdel Park next weekend for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.

The Knights sealed their return visit by finishing in first place in the overall Group IV meet on Saturday, totaling 95 points, to finish well ahead of Ridgewood, which took second with 84 points, and third-place Jackson’s 76 points.

Coach Rich Gebauer’s team qualified for the Group IV meet with a second-place finish in the Central Jersey Group IV meet on Nov. 4 at Thompson Park in Old Bridge, where the Knights finished behind Jackson.

The second-place showing was a bit of a disappointment for the Knights, who went 7-0 in dual meets to win the Greater Middlesex Conference’s (GMC) Red Division. But Gebauer did not characterize it that way; instead, he noted that his team did what it had to do to keep running.

“We were aiming for the Meet of Champions, and the main thing is to keep moving forward to qualify for the next event,” the coach said.

Now Old Bridge is there, thanks to a solid teamwide showing on Saturday. Four-year veteran Matt Ciambriello again led the way, taking second place with a time of 16:02, behind Craig Forys of Colts Neck, who finished in 15:31. Ciambriello had to stave off a late charge by Franklin’s Christian Gonzalez to hold onto second.

Nick Carbone finished 15th with a time of 16:51; Brendan Lyman took 20th in 17:00; Kyle Kauth was 34th, crossing the line in 17:20, and James Hauser was 49th in 17:35. Old Bridge entered the Group IV meet needing a top-three finish to qualify for the Meet of Champions, but the Knights had their sights on the top spot.

“Our guys wanted to win – that’s their goal and it’s been that way all season,” the coach said.

In addition to winning the GMC Red Division title, the Knights won the GMC meet, took first place in the first Old Bridge Invitational, won the Holmdel Invitational and took first in the Stewart Memorial.

The victory gives the Knights some momentum (and added confidence) heading into the Meet of Champions, and Holmdel Park is a familiar course for the Old Bridge runners.

Notes… With only three teams from each Group (plus two wild cards) advancing to this week’s Meet of Champions at Holmdel, the Knights and the Metuchen girls (the Group I champs) will be the only Greater Middlesex Conference teams competing.

There will, however, be a few other GMC harriers competing as individuals. The top 10 runners in each group (plus wild cards) advanced as well.

South Brunswick’s Steve Sample took 12th in Group IV (16:51), earning a wild card, while Metuchen’s Jonathon Azzara (17:19) took fifth in Group I.

Sayreville’s Heather Miara also made it through, taking 10th in a very competitive Group IV race, by knocking off more than 30 seconds from her personal best in 19:29. Miara, the GMC individual champ, was joined by Metuchen’s Fiona Weeks (third in Group I, 21:17) as the only girls from the conference to advance individually.