The excessively hot weather aside, the Bloomfield High cross country team has been getting some good work in during August.
The Bengals, boys and girls, open the regular season on Sept. 6, with a Super Essex Conference (SEC) meet, at Branch Brook Park, in Newark. The team is back at Branch Brook for SEC meets on Sept. 12 and Sept. 20. All three of those meets begin at 4 p.m.
Chris Romano is beginning his second full season as the team’s head coach. His assistant this fall will be Maureen Moore.
“Our boys team lost eight varsity runners from last year’s team (to graduation),” said Romano. “Among those graduates is La’Shan White, who was a standout on our track teams and is now at Rider University.”
A talented group of runners do return for the boys. The seniors are Colyer Samper, Philip Mabalatan, Loius Orellana, Adam Itzkowitz and Jordan McRae. The juniors include Rendell Amilcar and Luca Ponticello.
Romano noted that two underclassmen, Brendan Heaney and Quaid Mullane have shown marked improvement and could be major contributors at the varsity level.
The BHS girls team captured an SEC Liberty Division regular season title in 2017, finishing unbeaten. And while seven were graduated from that squad, a strong contingent of runners return this season.
“Among the girls on last year’s team who graduated were team captain Jackie Guinta, McKenzie Presume, who is attending Rutgers University for track and field, and Natasha Senatusm, who is running at Montclair State University,” said Romano.
The returning athletes include seniors Camrynn Referente and Da-Xia Colon and a strong group of juniors, paced by Sindy Casimir, Amanda Guinta, Angelina Ramos and Alanna Espinal.
Bloomfield’s team captains this year are Samper, Referente, Colon and Orellana.
Interest in cross country continues to be good at BHS.
“The turnout of novice and first time runners have been better than expected,” said Romano. “We have 21 runners signed up, and that number has been growing. Our captains split the responsibilities and held AM and PM workouts 3 days a week. I held weight training twice a week and Fleet Feet in Montclair invited us to their free running clinic in July. There is no excuse for a student athlete to not be involved. We do our best to work around any schedule. All a runner needs is a pair of sneakers and they could get their work in.”
The Bengals boys and girls teams will compete this fall in the SEC’s ultra competitive American Division.
“We welcome the competition,” said Romano. “The cross country team, as a whole, has been successful winning Liberty Division titles in each of the past four years. This is the first time that both the boys and girls teams will compete in the American Division in the same year. We will run against past successful programs like Millburn, Seton Hall Prep, Montclair, West Orange, Montclair Kimberley and Columbia on a weekly basis.
“These weekly SEC meets will help prepare us for a chance to move on past NJSIAA sectionals at Garret Mountain on November 3.’