Boys Cross Country: Jack Moran leads CBA to 2nd at Meet of Champions in sizzling time

HOLMDEL — Sean McCafferty took a long look at the scoresheet from Saturday’s NJSIAA Boys Cross Country Meet of Champions and summarized an incredible race in fitting fashion.

“I hate losing,” Christian Brothers Academy’s coach said. “But when you run your best, it’s tough to get upset.”

The three-time defending champions and winners of last year’s Holmdel Invitational — the de facto MOC in a COVID-shortened season — posted a tremendous average of 16:16 over Holmdel Park’s 3.1-mile course. Almost any other year, that would take the cake. Not this time. Union Catholic averaged a jaw-dropping 16:01 and bested CBA 67-84 on the scoresheet.

“They were the better team today; they ran really well and they’re really good,” McCafferty said. “I think we’re both top 10 teams in the country.”

Senior Jack Moran paced the Colts with a 10th-place finish in a personal-best Holmdel time of 15:49. That’s a top-10 time in CBA’s vaunted history.

“Besides racing, Jack has been the consummate leader,” McCafferty said. “He’s a quiet kid, but he learned the role and really helped everyone grow. Today’s race was the culmination of a lot of hard work for him. I’m very proud of what he did; it’s unbelievable that he was able to do that.”

Also scoring for Christian Brothers: Sophomore Jack Falkowski (34th place, 16:22), junior Nicholas Sullivan (36th, 16:23), sophomore Alex Kemp (37th, 16:23) and freshman Joe Barrett (40th, 16:24).

Barrett shattered CBA’s freshman record at Holmdel. It had been 16:37 by Blaise Ferro, who went on to become a collegiate All-American.

As usual, the Colts packed five runners across the finish line before anyone else. That typically is what wins at this meet, but Union Catholic placed two runners in the top five overall and that was the difference.

For perspective, during CBA's four-year reign atop the state, only once did the Colts' average crack 16:20. So any way you cut it, this was a strong showing in what on paper looked like a transition season.

“A month-and-a-half ago, my wife will tell you, I was coming home every day depressed and upset because we were terrible,” McCafferty said. “The boys really stepped up. Our seniors created this culture of success, and that helped.”

The start of the boys cross country Meet of Champions on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Holmdel Park.
The start of the boys cross country Meet of Champions on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Holmdel Park.

Other Shore standouts

After Moran, Freehold Township senior Daniel Valentino was the next Shore Conference finisher across the line, placing 20th in 16:10.

Manalapan completed a breakthrough season by taking 10th with 269 points and a 16:56 average. Senior Rowan Cassidy paced the Braves with a 26th-place finish (16:17).

Colts Neck took 11th overall with 284 points and a 16:58 average. Seniors Christian Mariner (24th, 16:14) and Ryan Johnson (32nd, 16:20) paced the Cougars.

Howell senior Kyle Lindon (25th, 16:16) and Southern sophomore Levi Miller (38th, 16:23) also ran well.

Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996. Contact him at

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Boys cross country: Jack Moran leads CBA to 2nd at Meet of Champions