Friday, May 31, 2013

Brett Johnson becomes 2nd Ocean City alumnus to break 4-minute mile

By MICHAEL McGarry, Atlantic City Press
Brett Johnson ran his first mile race when he was 12 years old and in the sixth grade.
The former Ocean City High School standout and current University of Oregon senior then waited 10 years for last Saturday.

Brett Johnson, center, competes in a relay race for the University of Virgina at the 2011 Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York. Johnson transferred last month to the University of Oregon and last weekend broke the 4-minute mile for the first time. Photo Ben Fogletto Atlantic City Press
Johnson, 22, made history for himself and his high school when broke the 4-minute
barrier for the mile run. Johnson finished in 3 minutes, 58.62 seconds to take sixth place at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington.
"As a miler, it' a milestone you want to go after," Johnson said in a telephone interview last weekend. "It's kind of relief to get it off my back. I've run the mile since I was in the sixth grade. I was stoked. All the hard work I put in kind of came true."
Johnson, a 2009 Ocean City graduate, is just the 14th New Jersey runner and third one from a local high school to break 4 minutes. He and 2003 Ocean City graduate John Richardson are the only two New Jersey runners from the same high school to ever break 4 minutes. Richardson ran it in 3:59.35 for the University of Kentucky on Feb. 2, 2008.
Richardson, now 28 and living in Lexington, Ky., received a text message from a brother-in-law last Saturday. It told him he no longer held the Ocean City alumni record for the mile run.
"I figured the list (of high schools with two or more runners that broke 4 minutes) had to be long," Richardson said in a phone interview last week. "The area produces good athletes and success breeds success. As the years have gone, the (Ocean City) program continues to get better. I'm proud to be an (alumnus)."
In addition to Johnson and Richardson, Mark Sivieri, a 1991 St. Augustine Prep graduate, ran 3 minutes, 59.85 seconds for Georgetown University at a Boston meet in January 1994. Ford Palmer, a 2009 Absegami graduate now at Monmouth University, is on the verge of becoming the fourth local runner to break the barrier. His personal best is 4:01.90 this winter.

Five-plus decades of history
More than 50 years after it was first accomplished, the 4-minute mile is still the goal for distance runners.
The mystique of breaking the 4 minutes transcends track and field. The average sports fan may not understand the significance of running 800 meters in less than 1:50 or having a shot put of more than 60 feet. But they know what the 4-minute mile means.
Roger Bannister was the first person to break it. He ran it in 3:59.4 on May 6, 1954 in Oxford, England.
Before Bannister did it, many thought the achievement was impossible. His race has been commemorated in books and movies.
That has helped the average sports fan understand what the milestone means. But the average fan also understands because at some point in their lives most people have run or walked a mile.
The barrier tests a runner's versatility. You can post impressive times in shorter races with just speed. You can do the same in longer races with just endurance. You need both to break 4 minutes.
To have two sub-4-minute milers from the same school is one of the most significant achievements in local sports history.
"I'm thrilled for the guys,"said longtime Ocean City distance coach Bill Moreland, who worked with Johnson and Richardson during their Red Raiders days. "It's exciting. I
Coach Bill Moreland
wouldn't have thought there wasn't another high school with two. It (breaking 4 minutes) doesn't happen as often as you think."
With its Boardwalk, Ocean City boasts a running culture. People from the region drive to the Boardwalk to run along the ocean.

An O.C. tradition
The Red Raiders are a perennial track and field power. Moreland, the former head boys coach and now an assistant, is a big reason why.
Moreland's training philosophy gives the Red Raiders a chance to improve as they get older and not burn out.  (For more on Coach Moreland-

"We have tended to under-train (distance runners) in high school," Moreland said. "If they're under-trained in high school, they're going to improve as they mature. If a kid is running 70 to 80 miles a week in high school, there's really not much space to improve."
Moreland also promotes the running culture by having an alumni run the day before Christmas. Nearly 50 former Red Raiders took part this past December.
"Some of them haven't run since the day before Christmas (the previous year)," Moreland said. "But they still come out to run."
As for Johnson, he can remember almost every detail of the first mile he ran as a sixth-grader. He finished in 6:15 at Ocean City's track.
"I hated the mile when I was younger because it was running around in circles," Johnson said. "It wasn't until about sophomore of my high school year that I started to enjoy it."
Johnson thought he could break the 4-minute mark in high school.
"But I didn't realize how hard it was going to be," he said.
He transferred to Oregon from the University of Virginia in January. It was an amicable parting. Johnson just felt like he needed change to reach his potential.
Johnson said he hadn't thought much about breaking 4 minutes since arriving at Oregon. Even last Saturday, he said, his only concern was winning.
"I was trying to beat (the other runners) and 4 minutes came with it," he said.
Oregon is to distance running what Duke is to basketball and Alabama to football.
"It's the place to be to run distance," Johnson. "Putting on that 'O' is something special. Oregon gave me a chance to come out here, so every day I put on that 'O' in a practice or a race is extra incentive to work hard and really win the day."

(List of New Jersey sub-4-minute milers compiled by journalist and track and field historian Reuben Frank)

N.J. runners who broke 4-minute mile
Marty Liquori 3:52.2 in 1975
Steve Slattery 3:56.75 in 2006
Ron Speirs 3:56.9 in 1977
Rob Novak 3:58.14 in 2012
Roger Jones 3:58.4 in 1982
Jim McKeon 3:58.62 in 1985
Brett Johnson 3:58.62 in 2013
Cliff Sheehan 3:59.2 in 1985
John Richardson 3:59.35 in 2008
Rich Kenah 3:59.43 in 2000
Jim Crawford 3:59.6 in 1970
Mark Sivieri 3:59.85 in 1994
Brian Gallagher 3:59.91 in 1998
Christian Gonzalez 3:59.98 in 2012
Local runners in bold
To Contact Michael McGarry:
 Atlantic City Press

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

7th Annual Browning Ross Bob Kupcha "Run for the Fields" Part 1

Start of the 7th Annual Ross Kupcha Run for the Fields

7th Annual Ross-Kupcha 5K Run and  1 Mile RunWalk
"Run for the Fields"

NATIONAL PARK – A perfect day with ideal weather conditions turned into an historic morning for the Annual Ross-Kupcha Race held near the historic Red Bank Battlefield in National Park on Saturday, October 27.

The race, benefiting Gloucester Catholic High School’s Athletic Fields Campaign, attracted 304 registrants for the 5 K run and Mile walk. This turnout easily proved to be the largest field in the seven-year history of the race, which has blossomed into one of Gloucester County’s largest events.
Winner Jason Simon

Gloucester Catholic Principal John Colman with Dave Williams winner Elyse Virella of GCHS
Gibbstown resident Jason Simon, 34, (above) a former Highland Regional High School standout, turned in the day’s overall fastest time in the 5K race with a first place finish in 17 minutes, 30 seconds. The top overall female finisher was Gloucester Catholic standout athlete Elyse Virella, who posted a time of 21:34. Eleven-year-old Brigid Heath won the Mile fun run in 9:38.

In addition, 70-and-over winner Tom Osler is a former AAU National Champion runner, a renowned running author and a Math Professor at Rowan University.

Gloucester Catholic, which had 40 classes of alumni and current students represented, will be the big winner overall. Proceeds raised will be donated toward construction of a new Athletic Fields complex in Deptford Township on a 75-acre site next to Gloucester County College.

“This was a great day for the Ross-Kupcha race with our largest turnout ever, and a great day for Gloucester Catholic,” said Meet Director Jack Heath, the Rams’ cross country and track coach. “We’re excited that so many participants from all over South Jersey came out to support us today.”

The race is named in honor of Browning Ross, two-time Olympian from Woodbury and long-time track and cross-country coach at Gloucester Catholic, and Bob Kupcha, one of Browning’s track athletes at Gloucester Catholic. Bob was an orthopedic surgeon, a war veteran, and a great brother, son, father, and friend who passed away at 42 years old.

Another award within the race is named after Dave Williams, a 1937 GCHS graduate who went on to become one of the best runners on the East Coast before becoming a World War 2 hero with the 10 Mountain Regiment in Italy. The first GC award is named after him.
To read more about Dave Williams:
The race winners may be found below.
Full race results available at
More pictures available on Gloucester Catholic Facebook page. Photos by GCHS Advancement Director Gus Ostrum unless otherwise noted.


7th Annual Ross-Kupcha Race Results

Overall Winners
Top 3 overall males: 1.Jason Simon 17:30 2.Andreas Logothetis 18:13 3.Stan Wileczek 18:34
Top 3 overall females: 1.Elyse Virella 21:34 2.Lauren Wilson 22:27 3.Becky Pund 22:51
Dave Williams award to first GCHS Finishers:
Male: Andreas Logothetis 18:13 Female: Elyse Virella 21:34
Age Group winners:

13 and under male: 1. Sean Ward 20:14 2.Maxwell Ormsby 20:27 3.JD George 21:02

13 and under female: 1. Mia Simila 28:30 2. Elizabeth Heath 32:54

14-19 Male: Sean Simila 19:10 2.Colin Ward 20:26 3.Billy Simila 20:50

14-19 Female: Courtney Stinger 22:57 2.Julia Hickman 22:59 3.Emily Lyons 23:00

20-29 Male: Jeff Sanders 22:04 2.Adam Slusher 27 22:50 3.Jeff Bennett 23:51

20-29 Female: 1.Kathryn Zengel 23:31 2.Julie Briggs 24:17 3.Katie Usher 25:12

30-39 Male: 1. Alex Cristaudo 24:00 2.Joshua Hubiak 25:45 3:Matt Skahill 25:35

30-39 Female: 1.Katie Ormsby 24:27 2.Courtney Murnane 27:09 3.Kristin Quinn 27:09

40-49 Male: 1. Louis Rodriguez 20:21 2.Ed Kelleher 21:18 3.Robert Gambogi 22:16

40-49 Female: 1.Kelly Valente 25:51 2.AnnMarie Bescherrer 27:28 3.Mary Hickman 28:45

50-59 Male: Bob Redrew 20:34 2.Roland Desilets 20:59 3.Don Giambrano 21:07

50-59 Female: 1.Brenda Englehardt 25:37 2.Sheila McGuire 26:18 3.Beth Quinn 29:25

60-69 Male: 1.Ken Kling 22:34 2.Tom Campo 23:32 3.Bill Fritock 25:14

60-69 Female: 1. Marge Morris 31:16

70 and over Male: 1.Tom Osler 29:26

70 and over Female: 1.Sue Levy 51:11

First 3 GCHS finishers (after Dave Williams award winners):

Male: 1. Sean Simila 19:10 2.Sean Ward 20:14 3.Colin Ward 20:26

Female: 1.Lauren Wilson 22:27 2.Courtney Singer 22:57 3.Julia Hickman 22:59

Mile winner: Brigid Heath (11 years old)

Tom and Margie

Gloucester Catholic's Future Fields

Photo by Anne Forline