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  • January 12, 2024
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In 1965, the Mount Carmel Area Cross Country team posted the best season on record in MCA Cross Country history. It was the first time ever that the Tornado harriers were credited with an undefeated season in Mount Carmel history until that time. They were also recognized as the champions of the newly organized Valley League. It was the first “hill and dale” crown of any kind for legendary Coach Jerry Breslin’s boys, registering a perfect 10 – 0 record.

Following the regular season, the Tornadoes competed in the annual District IV meet at Bloomsburg State College. Although MCA’s lead runner, Ray Rothermel, won the district championship, with a new district record time of 12:40, the team was nosed out by two points by the Williamsport contingent. Following an appeal by Mount Carmel coach Gerald Breslin, MCA was named champion by use of the system of “no displacement”, a method employed since 1958 in district meet competition. The change in the result gave Mount Carmel an undefeated season and it’s second-ever District IV Championship. (The first was in 1940) The 10 wins became the start of a 20 meet win streak that ended at the end of the 66 season. The 65 season also was the start of the greatest era in cross at Mount Carmel, as the 65,66,67,68 teams put up a 47-3 record with 3 District Championships.

As a result, MCA qualified 6 runners to compete at the PIAA State Championship meet at Penn State. They were Ray Rothermel, John Rusnak, Bob Matukaitis, Jerry Breslin Jr, Bill Evans, and Paul Williard. The Tornado harriers would end up finishing tenth at the PIAA Championship, the best ever finish by an MCA team at the time. Coach Breslin noted: “This is the best any Mount Carmel team has been able to do in the state-wide meet. The first three teams were from the western part of the state – North Allegheny, Baldwin, and Penn Hills.”

MCA’s Rothermel got jammed up early in the 200 boy field, but fought back to finish 49th. Rusnak came in at 54, Matukaitis, 55, Breslin 94, Williard 107, and Evans 133. Other schools in the top ten were William Tennant, Kennett Square, Wilkes Barre Meyers, North Penn, Altoona, and State College. Mr. “B” again stated – “Our team did exceptionally well to finish this high in state-wide competition. They deserve a lot of credit for their season-long performance.”

It has to be noted that this team was grouped with all of the largest schools in Pennsylvania and acquitted themselves in the best way possible. They also helped to set standards for all future cross country teams to emulate. Other members of the team were Ron Butkera, Hugh Jones, Rick Altmire, Larry Maurer, Rich Brennan, Mike Sejuit, Tom Brokenshire, Joe Meyers, and Rick Bolstrum. If Mr. B wee here today, he would just show a little smile and that familiar nod of his head with the news that this great accomplishment is recognized today.

Categories: 2017 Hall of Fame