New Jersey cross country preview

Today we'll branch out to cross country — you know, the sport that makes most of us look ridiculously out of shape.

Much of the national attention will be on New Jersey this year, as arguably the top runner and team reside here. Despite losing leader Mike Mazzacarro to graduation, Christian Brothers Academy has the tools for another big year and is ranked tops in the nation entering the season. It'll be hard to top 2010, when the Colts averaged a record 16:05.3 at Holmdel en route to another state title, but they will be pushed by the desire to continue their national record of 309 straight dual meet wins.

On the individual side, there's Edward Cheserek. Since the junior runs at St. Benedict's, he's not in line to win a state title, but that won't stop him from making his mark at the national meets. Here's what DyeStat's Marc Bloom has to say about the upcoming season:

It’s rare that one state has the nation’s top team and individual, but the Garden State has that honor with the fall season coming up. Christian Brothers Academy--Northeast Regional winner that took 5th at NXN and will be seeking a 17th state Meet of Champions title--returns 5 varsity runners with a 9:29 3200 average in track and will be tackling a tough schedule from the get-go.

While some may debate whether the Colts should be #1, there’s no argument on Edward Cheserek, the Kenyan star from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. Stepping out from the shadows of Lukas Verzbicas and the Rosa twins, Cheserek--NXN runner-up with an 8:42.66 indoor 2-mile and 4:03.29 outdoor mile (all behind Verzbicas)--should have any race to himself this fall.

CBA, led by 4:14 miler George Kelly, has 4 seniors and 3 juniors in its top 7. The Colts will run the Bowdoin Classic in Wappingers Falls, New York, on Sept. 24, to review the regionals course. As great as they are, CBA cannot sit pretty because both former champion Don Bosco and especially 2010 3rd-placer West Windsor Plainsboro South (not North, the Rosas’ team) have powerful teams that loom as regional threats. Cheserek’s school does not compete in state events. The MOC individual ranks are wide open.

Click here to get the cross country scoop on all 50 states and here to get an idea of how the girls competition could shake out.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.