Winter Track Update: Rams take on New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships

February 5, 2022. This is the date on which Oratory Prep would take on the finest of opponents that New Jersey Catholic Schools have to offer. To add to the event, the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference (NJCTC) Championships were held at the world-class facility of Ocean Breeze in Staten Island. To grasp the magnitude of the facility in which the Rams were running in, it helps to know that the meet was pushed forward a day so that on February 6, Ocean Breeze could hold a professional meet that showcased multiple Olympians who were competing. This is the very meet in which OPXC had won their division early this school year, and there was no shortage of competition. This was because US #4 Union Catholic and US #11 CBA were both competing.

Image courtesy of Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex

The meet started off displaying the bright future of the team with the freshman 4×400 meter relay. Taylor Modeski kicked off the first leg with a respectable 64.3 before passing the stick to middle distance runner Declan Kelly. DK was able to use his strength from his 5:10 mile to run a 60.91 before passing it to Aidan O’Dowd, brother of 300-meter record holder Evan O’Dowd. His genetic relationship with Evan is not the only relation Aidan has with speed as he was able to have a breakout race in the 3rd leg of the frosh 4×400, running a personal best of 61.9 (his previous best was a 66.6, a huge improvement). The freshman 4×400 was anchored by Charlie Sokol, who split a 62.5.

The next event of the day was the 55-meter dash. Six Rams took their places on the line for this event, the top 3 being senior Markian Rybchuk in 7.41, senior Jack Stickler in 7.42, and sophomore Byron Mendez in 7.49. Also competing in this event were Jaden Medina, Sebastian Murray, and, everyone’s favorite 1x performer of the meet, Michael Kupetz (who is on to a suspicious plan to unlock a hidden corn water vault from the school cafeteria).

The next race OP runners competed in was the 300-meter dash. As previously mentioned, Evan O’Dowd was the fastest OP runner in the 300 meters — both today and ever. Congratulations to Evan on breaking the school record — he is very deserving of that spot. Also in the 300, Stephen Tuite ran a personal best of 41.1 to place 2nd among Oratory runners; the junior has been a great addition to the team and a valuable asset. Also competing in the 300 meters were Markian Rybchuk, Byron Mendez, Sebastian Murray, Charlie Sokol, and Taylor Modeski.
Declan Kelly then took on the challenge of running his 2nd race of the day, alongside Patrick Feit who would be running his first of 2 races on the day. The event in which they were competing was the 600 meter. Declan Kelly would hold on to for all 600 meters, running 1:38, while Feit crossed the finish line in 1:46.

Image courtesy of Milesplit NJ

In the 1600 meter, the recently named school record holder in the 3200 was the sole Ram to take the track. Although he was the only Oratory competitor in his event, there was no shortage of excitement, as shown by the rest of the team packing in by the finish line, their rowdiness reflecting their true ram spirit. Hunt got off the line well, and 50 meters into the race was able to take off his mask that he forgot he had on in a very smooth fashion. The field got out very ambitiously, so Hunt decided to settle down the pace and navigate his first half-mile in a way that was more about positioning that speed. Hunt only went through the half-mile mark in 2:28 but was right where he wanted to be. Hunt was able to move up the field and take the lead with 500 meters to go. He proceeded to damage the field, running a 65 second in the last 400 meters, winning his heat by 6 seconds in 4:45.9. With this time, Hunt is now the 20th ranked miler in NJ’s Class of 2024. However, Hunt’s celebration with his teammates was short-lived due to the fact that he had to run the 4×400 in a half hour.

Images courtesy of Milesplit NJ

The Varsity 4×400 was an all-star lineup of Evan O’Dowd, Tommy Hunt, Pat Feit, and Stephen Tuite. Pat Feit put it best when he said, “What this relay team lacks in speed they more than make up for in personality.” These are the words that every athlete wants to hear before competing; rumor has it that these are the same words that Phil Jackson told Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Denis Rodman before the ‘98 finals. In all seriousness, the relay team did have some serious talent, with the 4 best 400-meter runner’s Oratory had to offer at the meet. The first leg was kicked off by school record holder Evan O’Dowd. He was in a close race with Roselle Catholic, splitting a 56.3 and handing the stick off barely in 2nd. He handed it to another school record holder, Tommy Hunt. It is important to note that Hunt is the school record holder in the 3200, which is 8 times the distance of the 400-meter race. Through the first 50 meters, it was clear that Hunt was a distance runner by how slow he was getting out; however, he was able to rally and run a 2nd personal best of the day, running 56.44, handing the stick off in first by a very small margin. Junior Patrick Feit ran the 3rd leg (this was his 2nd race of the day in his 2nd varsity meet since recovering from Covid). Feit was able to run a 60.7 and maintain the top 2 positions before passing it to Stephen Tuite, who would run a 57.6, his 2nd personal best of the day.

The star-studded 4×400 would contain all three OP performers of the meets. The first was Evan O’Dowd for both setting the school record in the 300 and running a successful 400. The 2nd is Steph Tuite for running two personal best and emerging as a top runner for OP. The 3rd being the first-ever person to win the meet three straight times, this time for cracking the state sophomore top 20, and running a personal best 400 meter (man this kid Hunt gets a lot of praise, I wonder who writes these articles).