Fast Field, Steady Rain at
BY JACK HEATH
NATIONAL PARK, NJ--Veteran runner Tom Osler summed up the 10th Annual Ross Kupcha Run, held October 22, like this, Ive run in over 2700 races, and that was the fastest overall 5K Ive ever been in. The pack was out of sight after the first turn at the half-mile mark on Grove Street (National Park)!
Runners arriving for the tenth edition of the race that honors Olympian Browning Ross and Bob Kupcha, one of his Gloucester Catholic track athletes from the class of 1977, were greeted by a steady rain and persistent wind that eased off slightly at the race start.
The hardy race volunteers included the GCHS football team and GCHS Class of 1977 luminaries Tom Sullivan and John OLeary and their fellow members of the National Park Ancient Order of Hibernians. While the race morning's chilly and wet 40-degree temperatures were a far cry from the balmy 80s of the day before, and may have scared off some race day sign-ups, they were just reminiscent of October weather in Ireland for the Ancient Order of Hibernian volunteers.
This years race debuted a high school team award, the
Joe Murphy award, which honors Joe Murphy a great multi-sport
athlete and coach at Gloucester Catholic. Murphy ran with Browning
Ross and Dave Williams in the 1940s. Murphy also went on to become
an athletic director at Gloucester Catholic and a member of many
Athletic Halls of Fame in Camden County and South Jersey.
Murphy also started the first cross-country team at Gloucester Catholic in the 1960s, a team that Browning Ross coached for many years. It was fitting that he was on hand to witness the Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team win the first annual Joe Murphy Award in his honor. The team competition may have contributed to the fast start as many fit high school teams were competing for the prize.
One of Gloucester Catholics all-time great runners and former University of Virginia star, Emily Ward, returned from Richmond, Virginia to win the womens race in 18:28, her second Ross Kupcha win (first RK win in 2005.)
James McCarvill, a runner from the Rutgers Camden cross-country team was the overall winner in 18:22
Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Senior Sean Ward won the Dave Williams award for first Gloucester Catholic male and finished second overall.
Mia Simila a Sophomore from the cross-country team won the Dave Williams award for first female.
Dave Williams was a 1937 Gloucester Catholic graduate who went on to become one of the top runners in the country before the emergence of Olympian Browning Ross, even though Gloucester Catholic did not have a track team at the time. The track team was started by Williams and Ross after they returned from serving in World War II as the St Marys track guild.
Rutgers Camden runner and Gloucester Catholic graduate Colin Ward finished third overall.
Ironically Emily Ward, Sean Ward, and Colin Ward are all cousins, but Sean and Colin had never met Emily before the race. Emily Ward, a former Richmond marathon winner, was also Gloucester Catholics last NJ Meet of Champions qualifier in Cross Country in 1999.
The race was timed by Chris Callinans Tomahawk Timing Company. Callinan was also a Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Meet of Champions qualifier in the 1980s.
The postrace award ceremony featured plenty of food and Browning
Ross Style prizes. A small sample includes tubs of pretzels and
cookies, harmonicas, Vera Bradley hand bags, and Marvel Super
Hero Pezs. There were enough prizes for every runner and walker
to receive a prize. The special 10th anniversary race shirts
featured an Andy Warhol style ram. Thanks to Gloucester Catholic
art teacher Dave Sipple and Liz Gloucester Catholic senior cross-country
runner Liz Heath for help with the shirt design.
The GCHS National Honor Society and Principal Ed Beckett and
the GCHS Cross Country team past and present and their parents
were invaluable for all of the night before pre-race registration
work at the National Park Fire Hall. Race proceeds benefited
Gloucester Catholic Scholarships. Thanks to all the race participants,
volunteers, and sponsors for making the 10th edition of the race
a success despite the weather.
1 273 McCarvill, James M Audubon, NJ