According to Coach Marketto, this year had the best Cross Country team since the start of the program six years ago. With the largest team in the Garden State Athletic Conference, Region XIX, and the Northeast District, they stayed in the top ten on a national level for the majority of the season. They placed second in Region XIX and third at Districts.
“It’s the best team we’ve had in six years and its very exciting,” replied Marketto when asked about his team as a whole.
Leading the men’s team this year was Jamar Mack from Bridgeton. Mack managed to place first eight out of the nine meets this past season. He shattered the team’s previous record by two minutes and seventeen seconds and he holds six of the top ten times on the Duke’s XC Top Ten Times List.
This year the women’s team was only able to compete as a full team in only one of their nine meets due to there only being five runners. The Region XIX Meet was the only meet in six years that the women’s team competed as a whole team. They placed second and they ran three to five strong in six out of the nine meets.
“Participation is up,” said Marketto. “But more women runners would be nice.”
The only woman to return to the team this year was Desiree Lara, who accomplished her three personal goals that she set for herself this year. Her goals were to beat her personal best time, get onto the women’s top ten list, and make it to All-American. She accomplished all of these things with flying colors and she will be named Academic All-American for the second year in a row and even has a shot a becoming Distinguished Academic All-American.
Another highlight of the year was the fourth annual Dukes Invitational. Participating were twelve men’s teams and eight women’s teams, which combined made the invitational the biggest turn out so far.
In addition to the Invitational was the Cumberland County HS Cross Country Championship Meet, which helped to raise funds and make promising contacts with potential athletes. The second annual Kids Academy Cross Country Track Camp was also better than last year’s boasting over fifty campers and raising a profit of twelve hundred dollars.
The only problem that arose this year was the loss of the 5K and 8K campus courses due to construction, however the well rounded team managed to find other locations to host races and practices.
It seems that the Dukes Cross Country team is still raising the bar and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.