Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Boys Deliver at Season Opener

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Boys Deliver at Season Opener

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- As the Passaic boys cross-country team walked back from the finish line Saturday morning after winning the title at the Varsity Boys A race at the Season Opener Invitational, senior Elijah Perez turned to sophomore teammate Luis Peralta and congratulated him on his strong fourth-place finish on the Darlington Park course.

"That's how we're going to win this year," said Perez, who finished seventh, just four seconds behind Peralta."We've got to stay together and work together." The duo, along with race runner- up Joel Garcia, led a pack of five runners in a 51-second spread in the top 15 for an easy 38-54 victory over a Ridgewood team that did not run any of its regular varsity runners.

But that wasn't really the point made by Perez. In Thursday's dual meet opener, Peralta had faltered in the final stages of his first varsity race and the Indians, No. 14-in The Record preseason Top 25, had fallen to unranked Passaic Tech, 27-29, with the five- man pack finishing more than 1:30 apart.

This time Peralta stayed the course and his 17:42 clocking was more than a minute faster than his attempt two days earlier.

The win is the Indians' first in a major race of any sort since the 1999 Passaic County championships, but confirms what Passaic coach Denys Falcon hoped would happen when he watched Peralta finish strongly last fall.

"We had five boys back from last year's team [that finished fourth in Passaic County and came within 42 points of a state Group 4 invitation at the sectionals] and I saw that they put in a lot of hard work and showed a lot of dedication this summer," said Falcon, who was an assistant coach in the 1990s when the Indian boys won five Passaic County titles in six years. "This group is still young - - and we're missing our usual number four man -- Leonardo Bravo -- who has been a little sick, but I think we're capable of running in a 20- to 30-second pack from 1 to 6 and if we do that, we can be very good. …

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