August 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM
CHATHAM, NJ - Will Mitchell leads the group of returnees for Chatham from the 2013 cross-country campaign that produced the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state sectional championship.
The Cougars upset Morristown, 65-66, to win the sectional crown. But Morristown has since been moved to Group 4, and Chatham has new competition in its section in power programs such as Summit, Middletown North and Middletown South.
The new sectional alignment may be tougher to overcome than the losses of last year's seniors: Dominic Vernazza, Andrew Vena and Parth Shah.
Mitchell will lead the pack for the Cougars. The senior finished in the top five in the county, conference and state sectional and placed 12th in the Group 3 meet. He earned a wild-card spot to the Meet of Champions.
"(Mitchell) has been training hard," Chatham coach Patrick Barry said. "We expected to be pretty good last year, but Morristown was the team to beat. We peaked at the right time last year. This season, we expect to be competitive at the county, conference and state level."
The veterans include Mitchell and senior Grant Hauck. Five juniors who broke onto the scene by winning the freshmen county championship are poised to make their mark for Chatham. Liam Hynes and Kevin Gesell are the top returnees from that junior class, which features Ben Seitz-Sitek, Jack Byrd and Pat Mortensen.
Senior Will Mitchell talks about the upcoming season for the Chatham boys cross-country team
Chatham opens with the Randolph Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 6.