Verona and Cedar Grove have been baseball rivals for decades. Dave Oster has raced against identical twins Joe and Jim Rosa for a far shorter period of time, but the match-ups are every bit as interesting.
The Verona High School senior was on the track with the West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School juniors this past Saturday night at the Mercer Twilight Invitational at Robbinsville High School. This was not an official team meet for Verona, but Oster entered it with the help of his coach, Sebastian Powell.
After several preliminary events and invitation-only races, a dozen of New Jersey’s top distance runners turned out for the last event of the day, a 5000 meter race. The heat was still oppressive and the humidity high–hardly ideal race conditions. And Oster was coming off the Essex County Relays the day before.
After the first two of the showcase race’s 12 1/2 laps, four boys broke away and formed a lead pack–the Rosa twins, Matt Valeriani of Southern Regional and Oster. Around the fifth lap, the Rosas edged ahead and Oster and Valeriani battled for third place. They alternated back and forth several times, but Oster ran the last lap in 74 seconds to Valeriani’s 77 seconds and locked up third place behind the Rosas. Joe Rosa took first place with a time of 14:28, while his brother turned in a time of 14:50.
Oster’s time was 15:07, which is the 14th best time ever for a New Jersey high school boy in a 5000 meter race on the track . According to his dad, Dave Oster Sr., the VHS racer was happy with the results, but believes–as always–that he can do better. He was also glad that, earlier in the day, he got to cheer on two runners who will be attending Syracuse University with him in the fall.
Oster will be back on the track this Friday for the Super Essex Conference championships at Shabazz Stadium in Newark, running the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter races.