MORRIS PLAINS, NJ - The 2014 Chatham boys cross-country team may be the best in the history of the school by the time the season is over.
On Tuesday, the Cougars added the Morris County Cross-Country Championship to its trophy case by averaging 16:38.7 over the 3.1-mile Greystone course.
Chatham's top five runners - led by senior co-captains Will Mitchell (fourth in 16:26.76) and Grant Hauck (sixth in 16:27.19) - all finished within 28 seconds of each other.
Chatham's top five runners all finished ahead of Mendham's fourth runner, leading to an easy 51-92 margin over runnerup Mendham. This was Chatham's second county championship in the 61 years of the meet, the other coming in 2006.
Liam Hynes placed seventh in 16:31.10; Kevin Gesell was 16th in 16:53.20 and Pat Mortensen finished 18th in 16:54.90 to complete Chatham's top five.
"Absolutely, they could be the best we've ever had," Chatham coach Pat Barry said. "This group never complains or gives excuses, they work together and they do what they have to do to win."
Mitchell ran an average mile of 5:17.6, followed by Hauck (5:17.8), Hynes (5:19), Gesell (5:26.2) and Mortensen (5:26.7).
A week earlier, Chatham set a team record for average time at 16:33.73 in winning the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference title. If Chatham, ranked No. 15 in the state, can keep up the pace and qualify for the Meet of Champions - after the sectionals and groups - it will be a school first.
"The top seven did an amazing job in this race," Mitchell said. "We all pushed each other. I looked up at one point and Grant Hauck and Liam Hynes were in front of me. It's a lot of fun racing with these guys. If we can qualify for the Meet of Champions, we'll be the first from out school to do it. That would make us the best in school history."
Completing the top seven for Chatham were David Flynn, 61st in 18:05.48 and Luke Malanga, 74th in 18:31.39.