Christian Brothers Academy confirmed it was one of the nation’s best cross country teams by finishing fifth at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). The NXN was held in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 4 inside the Portland Meadows Race Track. The two-loop manufactured course featured leaps over hay bails. On the day of the race, the course was wet and soggy, which made footing treacherous, which translated into slower times The Colts, competing as the Lincroft XC Club, scored 179 points in taking fifth. Aradia XC Club won the national title with 92 points. There were 22 teams competing in the championships along with the best individuals from across the country. The individual championship was won by Luke Verzbica from Illinois, the top-ranked harrier in the country. He was first in 16:00. CBA was led by Mike Mazzaccaro, who was 15th overall completed the 5,000-meter course in 16:44. In team scoring, however, he was sixth. Mazzaccaro was first among the New Jersey harriers who qualified for the NXN either as individuals or with their team. George Kelly (17:17:7), Dan Mykityshyn (17:26), Conrad Lippert (17:17:34) and Will Bragg (17:53) completed the Colt scoring finishing 29-34-41-69. This was CBA’s best finish at the NXN. The Colts previous best was eighth in 2005. The 2010 season turned into a special one for this CBA team. It regained the program’s position as the best in New Jersey when the Colts won their 16th NJSIAA Meet of Champions. They not only won it but broke the Holmdel Park team average record in the process, averaging 16:05.8 per runner. In winning the Shore Conference title earlier in the season, the Colts smashed the Ocean County Park team record (15:32.1) led by Mazzaccaro’s course record 15:03. Nationally ranked throughout the season, the Colts punched their ticket to Portland by winning the NXN Northeast Championship held at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., on Nov. 27. CBA made a case for itself throughout the season as one of the greatest teams in state history, and a fifth place at the nationals did little to harm that reputation. Red Bank Catholic’s Molly McNamara saw her reputation soar this fall. She qualified for the NXN by winning the Northeast Regional, the biggest win of her cross country career (18:33). At the NXN, McNamara finished 25th (19:29). Like Mazzaccaro, she finished first among the New Jersey runners at the race. McNamara came up with the goods all year for an RBC team that won the Non-Public A state title among a bevy of other titles. McNamara broke the OCP course record in winning the SC title in 17:14 back in October and was the NP-A state champion. McNamara is Stanford University bound next fall.