WOOLWICH TWP. – April 20, 2007, was a day that turned the world upside down for Kingsway Regional High School Board of Education Vice President Lauren Boerlin, losing her son Nate to cancer.
Nate, a sophomore at Kingsway at the time of his passing, was the oldest of Craig and Lauren Boerlin and was the older brother of current Kingsway senior triplets Alaina, Maria and Myles.
Now seven years later, the Boerlins are coming off the eighth annual Dragon Run held prior to Swedesboro-Woolwich Day, the last Saturday of September.
This year, Kingsway’s new athletic director, June Cioffi convinced all of the high school fall sports teams as well as the middle school field hockey, cross country and soccer teams, to join the 1,100-plus participants in the day's 5K run and one-mile walk.
"This small community has a huge heart and we are very lucky," said Lauren Boerlin. “We are hoping next year to get every club (from the school) here. The biology club kids need recognition. The drama kids. We want more children to be a part of this and feel like a unified group.”
Myles Boerlin, a Kingsway cross country runner, is very happy to have not only his teammates take part in this race that is near and dear to him, but also his friends from all over the school.
“It means a lot to me because obviously this is in memory of my brother and to see not only my team, but my friends, my peers and the school and they support me and my family it means a lot to just know we have that support,” said Myles. “It’s hard to face every year but it’s with their support that we get through it.”
This is a unique year for the run and for the athletic teams because it will be the last time a Boerlin is on an athletic team at Kingsway, with the triplets’ set to graduate in June.
Kingsway principal Craig Stephenson is proud of the way his students come out to support the Boerlin family.
“It’s incredible and that’s what it’s all about,” said Stephenson, who was also an administrator during the Boerlin triplets' time at Kingsway Middle School. “This is Kingsway’s big community event of the year. To see all of our fall sports teams, high school and middle school, it’s incredible. We really appreciate it. Once again, we have absolutely fantastic weather and what a great start to Swedesboro-Woolwich Day.
“(Having this be the last time the Boerlins will be on a sports team in the school) certainly makes it a little bit more special. I have known all three of them since they were in the middle school," said Stephenson. "To see them grow up is incredible and I think Myles did a fantastic job with his words today. I know that the whole Boerlin family is so appreciative for all the support they've gotten from Kingsway and the entire community.”
The top three males and females to finish the Dragon run earn a cash prize, unless they are a Kingsway student.
Brian Quilty of Blackwood, a former Rowan University cross country runner, was the first male to cross the finish line with a time of 15:54, just shy of the event record set by Darryl Brown (15:13 in 2013).
Two Kingsway graduates came in second and third. Ryan Harrigan, who continued his cross country career at Widener, came in at 16:21 followed by Mark Hepely with a time of 16:43.
Maureen Simon was the female champion with a time of 19:16, almost a full minute shy of former Kingsway girls' cross country star Chelsea Ley’s 2008 record, a record that may not be broken for a long time. (Ley is now an assistant coach at the University of Virginia).
38-year-old Jennifer Clark came in second with a time of 19:48, followed by two Kingsway seniors Jess Hartzell and Claudia Wells, a member of the girls' cross country team, who came in with times of 19:50 and 21:13, respectively
There were two males to run in the 70-and-older category with 76-year-old Jim Darken, finishing with a time of 28:29. He was followed by 79-year-old Paul Roedell with a time of 31:54.
Race director Mike Hotchman stated that next year there would be an 80-and-older category for Roedell.
All proceeds from the run go into a scholarship fund for Kingsway seniors.
To learn more about the Dragon Run, or to donate, visit www.naterocksheaven.com
Zach Bates is the cross country and volleyball beat writer for South Jersey Sports Digest. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD