Coaches Tim McLoone, in gray cap, and Henry Mercer, at center, mingle with supporters at Meadowridge Park before Friday’s dedication of a plaque, below, honoring the 2011 Rumson-Fair Haven girls’ cross-country team. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


On chilly afternoon in January – a month when many runners head for the nearest indoor treadmill – Meadowridge Park in Rumson honored some hardy cross-country runners and their coaches.

A bronze plaque was dedicated Friday to memorialize the 2011 NJSIAA Meet of Champions win by the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional girls’ cross-country team and its coaches, Tim McLoone and Henry Mercer.

McLoone, a well-known local business owner and philanthropist, called the occasion a celebration of the sport itself.

“Cross-country is such a tough, demanding sport,” he said. “And it’s really still under the radar. We really don’t get a lot of press for what we do. So it’s nice to have this monument up for everyone to see. And personally, it’s a little overwhelming.”

The plaque declares Meadowridge Park the “Home of Rumson-Fair Haven Cross Country,” and commends the “years of personal dedication” McLoone and Mercer have given over the better part of a decade.

It also singles out the 2011 girls’ team, who were the number-one team in New Jersey as well as the winners of the prestigious 2011 Meet of Champions.

“Even though that team is mentioned specifically, it’s really just a part of the entire spectrum of what we’ve been able to do,” McLoone said. “It’s nice to have something that marks our ‘home turf’ in Meadowridge.

“This place is special to us. We’ve spent a lot of time running these trails, and it’s one of the first places we came back to after we won State,” McLoone said.

Mercer and McLoone both gave emotional, passionate speeches in front of the new plaque and gathered crowd, with many families and cross-country runners, current and former, there to show their support for the two men who spent so much time helping them hone their skills.

“We’re the lucky ones,” Mercer said of himself and McLoone. “We’re the ones who ultimately benefit the most from being able to work with the kids and help them on their way.”

“I never did it for any reason except for my love of the sports and my love of the kids,” McLoone said. “We’re runners and this is what we do. Who knows? Maybe this plaque being here will inspire some others to run these trails,” he added.

This plaque is the second of its kind that has been erected in Meadowridge.The first was dedicated in 2012 to former Rumson Mayor Charles Paterno for his work with the recreation programs and the acquisition of the property that is now Meadowridge Park.