CBA completes its march into history

first_img BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer PHOTOS BY FARRAH MAFFAI staff Members of the CBA cross-country team cross the finish line in style as they broke the national record for consecutive dual meet victories with a win over Middletown North on Thursday in Lincroft. Below, the appreciative CBAfaithful cheer on the team as they near the finish line. Christian Brothers Academy’s class of 2005 had its rendezvous with destiny Thursday. Thirty years of CBA cross country perfection came to a head on a gray, misty afternoon in front of a large, appreciative crowd when the Colts won their national record 266th straight dual meet. Led by its seniors, Nick DiChiara, Brian Keating and Derek Jensen, CBA beat Middletown North, 15-50, to break the national record for consecutive dual meet victories of 265 first set by Blackstone-Millville (Massachusetts). The Colts had tied the national record on Sept. 28, beating Marlboro, 20-43. That win, also in Lincroft, set off a 48-hour frenzy as everyone knew that on Thursday, the Colts would be running for a national record on their home course. One of those most caught up in the whirlwind was DiChiara, the fourth DiChiara brother to run for coach Tom Heath at CBA. “My brothers weren’t able to be here, but they were in spirit,” he said. “They all called me last night and they told me they were all proud of me.” With history just over 17:00 away and rabid CBA fans, many of the ex-CBA runners, cheering them on, the Colts had the sixth man on their side. “There was so much adrenaline going through you,” said DiChiara of the race. “It was so emotional and so exciting. There was such a great turnout. The crowd was all over you.” The meet itself was anti-climactic as 13 Colts ran together over their 5K home course, with Keating getting the first-place card in a time of 17:09 over the rain-soaked course on the CBA campus. The Colts fans cheered the runners from both teams participating in the historic race. CBA’s seniors were aware of their special place in history from day one. The countdown was on, with the streak having gone well past 200. Adding up seven dual meets a year, the freshmen of 2001 knew that when they were seniors in the fall of 2004, they would be the ones who would have the opportunity to break the record. They were the ones that fortune would shine on, but they were always aware that without three decades of work preceding them, it wouldn’t have happened. “It was fortunate for us; we just lucked out that we were the ones to break the record,” DiChiara pointed. “We got to run the race, but everybody from the last 30 years who put into it gets the credit. I’m proud of what this team has done.” DiChiara followed in the footsteps of brothers Thomas (class of ’95), Joe (’96) and Jeff (’00). He said that he always knew from the start he would run for CBA. He was a fourth-grader standing on the sidewalk, watching his brothers, when Thomas led the Colts to their 200th straight win. “At the time, I didn’t understand the tradition,” he noted. Now, as one of those who have contributed to the streak over those 30 years, he understands how special not only the record, but the CBA tradition is. It’s the reason that John Coyle, class of 1989, scholastic all-American and CBA’s best cross country runner, flew in from San Francisco, where he is an investment banker now. He, like so many ex-Colts runners present for the race, wouldn’t have missed the chance to stand in the rain to share in CBA’s historic moment for the world. The streak, in his time, was in the 120s, he noted, and hadn’t become the subject of national record possibilities. “It was accepted that you won dual meets,” recalled Coyle, who ran at the college level at Notre Dame, and after graduation for the Nike Farm Team in San Francisco. Through “the streak” there has always been the 58-year-old Heath. He is the mentor and architect of CBA distance running. He has created a tradition second to none and a program that seems to bring the best out in everyone. When you run for CBA, you are not running just for yourself, but the uniform and all those who have gone on before you. CBA is family, and it’s up to each team to carry on the tradition and make its own mark. That’s the byproduct of Heath’s approach. “The credit goes to Tom Heath,” Coyle pointed out. “He’s very, very rare. He’s about instilling a level of confidence in his athletes. He has a system that works if you just follow the rules. If you don’t, there are consequences; if you do, you know there are great rewards. “When you toe the line, everyone is prepared, you just focus on what you can do,” he said. Unlike CBA’s other achievements — the national and Penn Relay championships, the record 13 Meet of Champions cross country championships — this record was for the every man, and Heath is aware of that more than anyone else. It wasn’t just the Coyles and (Brian) Kerwins (CBA’s only MOC individual winner) who made this record possible. It was those who may never have run in a state championship race, but ran hard enough and well enough in dual meets to keep the streak going over the years. “Our sophomores and juniors run the dual meets,” said Heath. “It’s [the streak] all part of them, not just the elite. It’s the whole group.” And the whole group shared in CBA’s unmatched record, and 30 years of perfection. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Colts harriers set national record with 266th straight win last_img