Staff Writer By tim morris Tom Heath has been hearing the rumblings all summer. This is the year that the Christian Brothers Academy cross country team, which lost six of its seven starters including its invaluable leaders Tom Falvey and Nat Glackin from last fall’s nationally ranked state championship team, comes back to the pack. The year when the Colts can be had. The season opposing teams have been waiting for. “This is a new cast,” noted Heath. “Everyone is doom and gloom about CBA, saying that we’re no good. Everyone had better watch out. The kids have been working really hard.” The Lincroft team hasn’t won six straight Meet of Champions titles and been the dominant team in New Jersey for 30 years without being able to retool each year, and 2001 looks no different. The names are different, but the same resolve and motivation remain. Rumors of CBA’s demise may indeed have been premature. Remarkably, in the team’s first pre-season time trial, the Colts ran faster overall than last year’s state champions. Senior Jeff Peterson, the only returning starter, ran the second fastest trial ever, behind only Brian Kerwin, who was the 1999 state champion. “Jeff is real quiet and leads by his work ethic,” said Heath. “The team looks up to him because he was part of a national championship team (CBA’s indoor four-mile relay team). “Jeff has really, really good speed,” he added. “He hasn’t learned to run cross country yet. He needs to know what his limitations are and what his assets are.” When he does, look for Peterson to be a challenger in the major meets. Seniors Mike Durso and Jay Vitale have stepped up big and are the keys to the 2001 Colts. “They are the nuts and bolts of the team,” Heath pointed out. “They gathered everyone together in the summer to get them running. They are very excited about the season. It’s their time to shine. Their time to step to the plate.” Junior Angelo Petraglia and sophomores Will Melofchik and Patrick Ryan round out the team’s lead pack. “They have improved dramatically over last year,” said Heath. “I could not have imagined after the track season how far they have come.” While Peterson has been the team’s clear No. 1 at this point, there are only five seconds separating the second through the sixth runners. It’s that kind of depth over the years that has made CBA all but unbeatable. There’s more bad news for those who thought the Colts were down. Heath has “the best freshman team CBA has ever had by far.” It’s so good that Heath expects some of the ninth-graders to make the top seven on the team before the season is over. The talented incoming freshman class includes Peter Glackin (Nat’s younger brother) and Nick DiChiarra (whose brother Jeff starred on the ’99 state championship team), Connor Campanella and Brian Keating. Heath and his harriers are soaking up their new position as underdog and are anxious to prove everyone wrong. Just because there are six new faces on the scene, CBA has not lowered its expectations. “Our goal is be in the Top 25 in the country,” said Heath. “The kids are motivated by the people before them. Our seniors know the glory and satisfaction of the last three years and know it’s their turn.” The Colts will make their invitational debut on Saturday in Jersey City at the St. Dominic Invitational. Other important dates are the Shore Coaches Invitational (Oct. 6) and Holmdel Park; the Manhattan Invitational (Oct. 13) and Eastern States (Oct. 29), both at Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx; Monmouth County Championships (Oct. 16) at Holmdel Park; Catholic Conference Championships (Oct. 27) at Warinanco Park, Elizabeth; Shore Conference Championships (Nov. 3) at Ocean County Park; the State Parochial A Championships (Nov. 10), at Holmdel Park; and the Meet of Champions (Nov. 17) at Holmdel Park.