WEST ORANGE, NJ - In its first year, the West Orange Cross Country Club, under the supervision of the West Orange Recreation Department and providing opportunities for youngsters in fourth through eighth grades, has managed to make its mark in Essex County and across the state of New Jersey. The club has already placed top boy and girl runners in each age group  as a member of the Essex County Suburban Conference. 

The team is led by Coach David Alfano, a West Orange High School All-State Distance Runner.  Recognizing the accomplishments of his first-year team, Alfano has entered them in additional prestigious races, including the Lakeland Cross-Country Series in Morris Township. Last weekend the group competetively competed at the New Jersey Middle School Cross Country Championships at Great Adventure Park in Jackson, New Jersey. Alfano is assisted by Head Junior Track and Field coach and former West Orange High School runner Oberon Weah.

"I do not subscribe to the notion that simply because we are in our first year of competition we should limit ourselves to competing exclusively in the local suburban conference" Alfano said "If the runners are to be successful they must compete against other top runners while experiencing different types of courses".

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The boys team is led by eighth-grader Ebezie Anuamadi. Anuamadi was the top West Orange eighth-grade runner in the Suburban Conference. He finished sixth at Lakeland and turned in a very impressive first time place of 23rd at the state meet.

Also participating in the state meet was West Orange resident David Robinson, who also competes for Roosevelt Middle School.  Robinson turned in impressive finishes this year as he won the prestigious Pingry and Summit Invitationals. Alfano believes both Robinson and Anuamadi will make an immediate impact as freshman at the high school level.    

Other notable runners were fifth-grader Mason Murdock (third in conference 5/6 grade division); sixth grader Khurram Simpson (fourth place in the conference 5/6 grade division fourth grader Chase Korczukowski, fifth-grader Javon Riviera and seventh-grader TJ Burdek.

The West Orange girls held the three top positions in the Suburban Conference's seventh- and eighth-grade division. Seventh-grader Alina Chant dominated every race in the division while finishing sixth at Lakeland and 18th at the state meet.  Eighth-grader Anna Favetta finished second in the conference, third at the prestigious Summit Invitational, ninth at the prestigious Pingry Invitational, 12th at Lakeland and 32nd in the state meet. Kayla Caesar was third in the conference while finishing thirty ninth at the State meet. Kayla’s younger sister, sixth grader Serena has dominated the fifth- and sixth-grade conference meets and was moved up to the seventh- and eighth-grade division at the state meet, finishing 34th.

Fourth-grader Kourtney Adams (second in conference 3/4 grade division), Fifth-grader Illyada Vural (third in conference 5/6 grade division and fifth at the state meet) and fourth-grader Amanda Garcia, fourth in the 3/4 grade division) have also been very competitive.

The club will travel to Flemington for the Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships on Nov. 3, hoping to advance to the USATF Regional Championships on Nov. 22 in Three Rivers, Pa.