The 2009 Gloucester Catholic (NJ) Boys and Girls Cross Country Teams had their best season in years:
The girls finished 7-0 and won the Tri County Conference Diamond Division again while the boys were 8-1 finishing second in the conference. To find the last time both cross country teams had comparably successful seasons in the same year you would probably have to go back to 1985.
In the 1985 season the boys had their first season with double digit victories since 1977, while the girls finished with a school record 11 wins and qualified for the NJSIAA meet of champions by finishing 3rd in the state. The girls team finished third in the state despite only having 8 girls.
While there have been seven indiduals qualify for the NJSIAA Cross Country Meet of Champions (Jack Heath, Ann Wodarczyk, Chris Callinan, Ted Callinan, Tabitha Francks, Damian Gallagher and Emily Ward), the 1985 girls team remains the only Gloucester Catholic team to qualify for the NJSIAA Cross Country Meet of Champs as a team.
The 1985 Boys team consisted of: Chris Callinan, Ed McCarty, Dan Magee, Rich Piasecki, Nick Simila, Jim Delaney, Brian Aster, Dick Butwin, John Pardini, Andy Wodarczyk, Andy Currie, Ken Davis, Mike Hampton, Joe Falcone, Dave Townsend and Dan Hopkins.
The 1985 Girls team consisted of: Sue Steckel, Mary Sigmund, AnnMarie Wodarczyk, Melanie Mullins, Amy McKenna, Diane Sigmund, Maria Madson and Janine Nestore.
We recently caught up with some of the members of the 1985 team for an update on their current status and memories of that outstanding season:
Chris Callinan- presently a math teacher and track and cross country coach at Cherokee High School, school record holder at Cabrini College.
"I remember the people that I ran with at GC. I enjoyed the times that we got to travel and run together. I remember the times that I got to run with my coach (Jack Heath). I also enjoyed meeting and spending time with Browning Ross. I still see some of the people that I ran with at Gloucester Catholic."
Andy Currie: Seved on active duty with the Marines from 1988 to 1993, graduated from Penn State with and electrical enginnering degree and works for Lockheed Martin in Virginia.
"I remember running and being on the team being a lot of fun. There was one time we ran a race (againtst Audubon, NJ) and finished on the track between the uprights on the football field during half time of their football game in front of packed stands."
Dan Magee: Dan was one of the captains of the team and is presently an Active Living Recreation Director living in Decatur, Georgia. Tom Magee: Lives in Marlton, NJ with his wife and two sons. Tom is a police officer (12 years) and DARE officer for Evesham, NJ police Department. For exercise, Tom rides a bicyle over the Commodore Barry bridge during the Police Unity Tour with 500 cops http://www.policeunitytour.com/. He is married and has two sons. "I enjoyed running over the Ben Franklin Bridge and stopping at the Bourse for a soft pretzel."
Joe Falcone: Joe lives in Bellmawr NJ, is married with 4 children and a police officer for Bellmawr (20 years). Joe was a varsity cross country runner, baseball player and bowler at GCHS.
He is a police officer in Bellmawr, NJ where he resides with his wife and four
children. During his career as an officer Joe has received 6 citations for life saving. He enjoys interacting with the community and making sure every resident feels safe. "Cross country taught me how to stay focused.
I really enjoyed practice. Coach Heath always motivated us no matter how tired we were."
Dick Butwin: Dick is married, and lives in Myrte Beach, South Carolina. He and his wife recently welcomed a baby girl Helena. Dick is a Villanova grad who works as a mechanical engineer. "I remember the ways we would get around not having a track or cross country location of our own, and the unique and varied ways we still practiced as a team, from the Bridge runs to the runs to Audubon, to the Philadelphia Zoo 10k. Several years ago I was in South Korea for work, and went for a jog along the river bank. Most of the South Korean joggers had masks on to ward off swine flu and the smell of the river. It made me think that maybe not having a track at Gloucester Catholic was not so bad after all!" Question: Why do you think the 1985 teams so successful? Coach Jack Heath: "I had started coaching at Gloucester Catholic with my coach Browning Ross while still running for Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ). I visited some of the sending Catholic grade schools at that time that didn't have track programs to talk about cross country and put on some mini races with prizes and food-- Browning Ross style. When I graduated from Rowan I taught at Gloucester Catholic for two years, Browning Ross had temporarily retired and I coached both the track and cross country teams. A few of the kids that ran really in those grade school races, like Nick Simila (St Marys Gloucester NJ) came out for the team. A few others like Chris Callinan and Ann Wodarczyk I saw in the halls and asked to come out.
You could tell they were going to be good runners. The 1985 teams were definitely among my favorite teams that I've coached, and everyone has gone on to do really well."