CALDWELL – The Mount St. Dominic Academy cross country team has opened the season with a strong start.
The Lions (6-0) won all of their Super Essex Conference dual meets in the first two weeks of the season with victories over Newark Collegiate, St. Vincent and Belleville on Thursday, Sept. 5 and Irvington, Payne Tech and West Caldwell Tech on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Last year, the Lions finished the regular season with a 9-2 record and in third place in the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division standings. They placed third at the SEC Liberty Division Championships and ninth overall and second among Liberty Division teams at the Essex County Championships.
“Our goals are a top three finish in our conference and to improve on last year’s county, New Jersey Catholic Track Conference and NJSIAA Non-Public A finishes,” said first-year head coach Robert DeCarlo. “There is a really great esprit de corps with this year’s group of girls. They have a lot of fun working together, and we truly enjoy coaching them.”
DeCarlo said this year’s team is a mix of veteran athletes and newcomers.
“Though we are led by four veteran runners in seniors Aly Greenberg '20, Gabby Caputo '20, Sydney Anish '20 and Sophia Amelung '20, the rest of the team is a great mix of a dozen ninth through 11th graders, any of whom can slot into our top seven where and when needed,” he said. “At this stage of our season, Aly is our No. 1, coming off of a strong spring 2019 season. Gabby, Sydney and Sophia have been our two through four, but freshmen Lea Przyhocki '23, Cara D'Angelo '23 and Ava LaBruno '23 are ready to mix it up with sophomores Juliana Herbst '22 and Carina Navas '22 and junior Elena Tyndall '22.”
Another newcomer is sophomore transfer Victoria Wall '22. “She shows promise as a first-year runner,” he said.
The small number of team members is a challenge. “With a small team and limited numbers, figuring out everyone’s training load and recovery needs is key,” he said. “We have a long season and a lot of races to toe the line at and not a lot of room for error with injuries.”
DeCarlo has been coaching at Mount St. Dominic since spring 2018 as an assistant coach and distance coach under track head coach Richard O’Connor, who had been the head cross country coach for three seasons.
“Following the spring 2019 season, Rich and I talked and thought it best for all involved for me to take the reins as head cross country coach, allowing for me to build the distance program and work with the girls year-round,” DeCarlo said. O’Connor and Kristen Zosche are assistant coaches this year.
DeCarlo has been coaching since 1999, starting at Old Tappan before moving on to Don Bosco Prep from 2002 to 2013. There he was named North Jersey “Coach of the Decade” for 2000-2009. He coached for two years at Felician University before coming to the Mount.
“I teach literature and philosophy at the Mount,” he said. “I came to the Mount to teach and then found my way back into coaching.”
The Lions were set to face Livingston and Science Park on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The rest of the schedule includes West Essex, West Side and Cedar Grove on Tuesday, Sept. 24; the Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 28; the SEC Liberty Division Championship on Wednesday, Oct. 2; the Essex Coaches Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 12; and the Essex County Championships on Friday, Nov. 1.
After that are the NJCTC Championships on Saturday, Nov. 9 and the NJSIAA Group Championships on Saturday, Nov. 16.