Students in graduation

Wrestlers travel to nation’s capital and finish third at the Melee on the Metro tournament
Fencing team completes regular season; hoop team wins a pair in Prime Time Shootout

Feb. 10, 2019

The Gray Bees 4x800-meter relay team set the bar extremely high from the season's outset and continues to reach new heights.

The tandem of Jackson Burnett, Lewis Ngwenya, Ronald Kigen and Alfred Chawonza shaved almost 4 seconds from their previous school-record in December with a 7:43.68 on Saturday at the 112th running of the Millrose Games at the New Balance Armory in Manhattan.

The Gray Bees went wire-to-wire with the lead after Burnett opened 1:55.28. He was followed by Ngwenya’s 1:56.47 and Kigen’s third leg of 1:58.33. Chawonza brought the baton home with a 1:53.61 anchor and crossed the line with the third fastest time ever recorded by a New Jersey team.

St. Benedict’s looks like the team to beat when the Indoor Nationals are staged next month back at the Armory.

“We haven't locked down our lineup 100-percent for nationals yet,” said St. Benedict’s middle distance coach Dave Alfano. “We have the option to run a sprint medley the same day as 4x800. Fresh and with competition we can give the national record a scare, no doubt in my mind.”

Chawonza, however, wasn’t done after the scintillating 4x8 showing. The senior came back 65 minutes later and posted a new school-record in the 600-meter run and placed second in 1:19.61. He held the lead after the 200- (25.0) and 400-meter (52.44) splits before being edged at the line by national champion Luis Peralta of Passaic (1:19.29).

The Gray Bee also entered a team in the Independent Schools 4x400-meter relay and the team of Greg-Anthony Jones, Malachi Little, Isiah Sanchez and Xavier Freeman turned in a time of 3:26.21 to finish second behind Christian Brothers (3:23.14).

(View more photos from the Gray Bees at the Millrose Games)

St. Benedict’s alum Edward Cheserek ’13, who rewrote the Gray Bee record book at The Hive before going on to the University of Oregon and setting a standard with 17 NCAA titles, capped the evening at the Millrose Games by competing in the prestigious Wanamaker Mile.

Cheserek, who last year ran the then-second fastest indoor mile ever (3:49.44) in Boston, continued his excellence as a professional. The 25-year-old, considered a long-distance specialist, couldn’t sustain the pace set by the winner, Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, but did muster enough for a second-place effort.

Kejelcha won the race with a 3:48.46 – just missing the world record of 3:48.45 – and Cheserek placed second in 3:53.29, edging the third-place finisher, American Clayton Murphy (3:53.30).

After his showing in the Wanamaker, Cheserek took some time out of his busy professional schedule to meet up with the current crop of Gray Bee runners and his coach at The Hive, Marty "Doc" Hannon, at the Armory.

The Gray Bee wrestling team competed at Melee on the Metro in Washington, D.C. on Saturday and had three runner-up finishers and placed third in the team standings (175.5 points) behind nationally-ranked Wyoming Seminary of Pennsylvania (289.5 points) and St. Christopher’s of Virginia (245.5).

Ibraheim Mendheim, at 145 pounds, Damon Wright, at 152 and heavyweight Christian Chajon each advanced to the final before placing second. Mendheim, who had three pins on his way to the final, was pinned himself in the championship bout to a national champion. Wright and Chajon faced similar outcomes in the final, suffering a fall against nationally-ranked wrestlers.

Felix Clayton (132 pounds) and Zahnir Steen (170) placed fourth, while Michael Holleran (106), Anthony Augustin (182) and Cesar Espinal (220) finished 6th, Stanley Alexandre (195) came in 7th, and Andrew D`Arcy (113) wound up in 8th.

All but one wrestler won at least one bout for coach Omar Felicano’s team, which got to spend some quality time visiting the sites in the nation's capital, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Washington Monument.

St. Benedict’s fencing team enters Wednesday’s State Prep Championships on a roll, traveling to the Masters School in New York on Saturday and closing out the regular season on a 13-match winning streak after a 20-7 victory. Captains Marc Urquilla and Francisco Perez went 3-0 and 2-1, respectively, as the Gray finished the match season with a 13-1 record.

The basketball team competed over the weekend in the Prime Time Shootout and won a pair of games at the Dunn Center in Elizabeth. On Saturday, coach Mark Taylor’s club beat Trenton Catholic, 95-56, before coming back Sunday and upending Cardinal Hayes (NY), 67-60.

C.J. Wilcher led five players in double figures against Trenton Catholic with 20 points. Adetokunbo Bakare added 18 points, Aaron Estrada had 14, Jake Betlow chipped in with 12 and Supreme Cook contributed 10.

Against Cardinal Hayes, Wilcher again led the scoring with 19 points and was followed by Estrada with 16, Cook with 12 and Zarique Nutter, who had 11.