Cross country runner Louis Corgliano of Hammonton High School and field hockey midfielder Emily DeMarco of St. Joseph did more than just cap stellar careers with standout seasons this fall.
They changed the way the Cape-Atlantic League high school sports community thinks about their sports at their respective schools.
Corgliano is The Press Male Athlete of the Fall. DeMarco is The Press Female Athlete of the Fall.
They accomplished their feats a few blocks from each other. Hammonton and St. Joe are in the same town.
Corgliano spoke for both himself and DeMarco when asked about this fall season.
"It was a blast," he said. "I'm so lucky for the opportunities I was given this year."
Before Corgliano began running, not many thought of Hammonton as a cross country power. The school was known primarily for its football prowess.
Corgliano changed that by having a cross country season as good as any CAL boy ever had.
Before DeMarco arrived at St. Joe, high school sports fans thought of the Wildcats as having one of the CAL's top field hockey programs.
But four years and three state final appearances later, St. Joe is recognized among the state's best teams. The rest of the state mostly knew the Wildcats for the success of their football team.
"We put St. Joe field hockey on a whole new map," DeMarco said. "They're not just looking at St. Joe as a football school."
Corgliano won the CAL championship and his second straight Atlantic County championship this fall. But he distinguished himself on the hills of Holmdel Park in Monmouth County, where the state group championships and the Meet of Champions are held.
Corgliano finished third in the Meet of Champions at Holmdel Park (Monmouth County). He ran the 3.1-mile course in 15 minutes, 35 seconds. New Jersey cross country runners are measured by how well they run on the hills at Holmdel.
Corgliano's time is the fastest ever by CAL boy at Holmdel. Greg Hughes of Mainland Regional is the second fastest CAL boy ever with 15:38.9 in 2003. Corgliano's third-place finish is the best performance by a CAL boy at the MOC since Hughes finished second in 2003, according to South Jersey cross country historian Reuben Frank.
Corgliano then qualified for the Foot Locker National Championship by finishing ninth in the Northeast Regional at VanCortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. Corgliano is just the second CAL boy to qualify for the national championships since the Foot Locker race started in 1979, according to South Jersey track and field historian Reuben Frank.
Brett Johnson of Ocean City qualified in 2008. Corgliano finished 24th out of 40 runners at the National Championship race held in San Diego.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Corgliano said. "I still can't get the fact that I ran in a National Championship race out of my head. I wanted to leave a lasting mark on not only the CAL but also South Jersey, and with the way everything turned out this year, I think I did that."
Corgliano came to cross country late. He tried out for football as a freshman and didn't run in the fall that school year. His friends convinced him to try out for his sophomore season in part because he had run a fast mile in gym class as an eighth grader.
"It's hard to believe," he said. "I never thought my fast mile in eighth grade would foreshadow things to come. I'm never going to forget this season. I couldn't ask for a better ending."
Meanwhile, DeMarco also had a historic fall.
She topped the CAL in scoring with 41 goals and led the Wildcats to the state Non-Public final, where they lost to Oak Knoll 5-0.
But St. Joe wasn't even expected to make it to the final. They upset Camden Catholic and Bishop Eustace to win the South Jersey Championship.
"This was the most memorable of my four seasons because of our difficult road to the state (final)," DeMarco said. "It was great to prove to people that we're not little old St. Joe."
St. Joe had never been to a state final before DeMarco arrived. This fall was the Wildcats; third appearance in four years. DeMarco finished her career with 124 goals and 64 assists. The Wildcats went 81-6-2 in her four seasons.
She will play for NCAA Division I American University next fall.
"We couldn't have had this legacy without all my teammates," DeMarco said. "It was such a great experience."
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