West Chester Rustin and West Chester Henderson girls traveled to North Carolina to compete in the championship race of the Adidas Cross Country Challenge. Rustin finished in 10th place with a score of 311 points led by a 52nd place finish from junior Jess Delviscio (19:42.9). Henderson finished 13th with 425 points and were led by a 39th place finish from junior Taylor Kitchen (19:26.4).
Senior Patrick Reilly of Dallastown had the fastest time of the day, running 16:05 to win the individual title in the AAA division. AA honors went to Daniel Green of James Buchanan in 16:39 and Brady Wilt of Biglerville ran 17:00 to earn the fastest time in the A group. In the team standings, Dallastown got the best of Chambersburg 72-84 with three runners in the top 15 and five in the top 25.
Manheim Township finished 2nd in the AA division, the top PA team in the race, with a score of 89 points, 25 points behind St Paul's. Manheim finished with four in the top twenty led by a Nate Lachman's 8th place performance.
Biglerville defeated Camp Hill to win the class A dual meet.
For the girls, the senior Chambersburg trio of Courtney Group (19:51), Natalie Holder (20:00) and Alex Orr (20:26) finished 2-3-5 to help their squad cruise to the AAA team crown over Handley 39-79. AAA individual honors went to Danae Peters of Manheim Township with a time of 19:37 to win by 14 seconds.
The AA team crown went to Susquehannock in a close contest over Donegal 71-79. Susquehannock had three in the top 15 and four in the top 20 to clinch the win. Individual honors went to Kierra Zack of Northern York with a time of 19:55 to win by nearly 40 seconds.
Camp Hill's Ali Herr ran 23:16 to earn the fast time in the division A race.
In 2012, the Unionville girls put themselves on track for an amazing season with a solid team performance and the best combined score. In 2013, they returned to the 2 mile invitational and reminded everyone just how good this group really is. Courtney Smith led the squad with the 2nd fastest time of the competition (10:56) and Emily Fisher had the 3rd best time of the meet (11:06). Olivia Young and Kacie Breeding finished 6th and 7th respectively and Elizabeth Edwards finished 15th to round out their scoring five. The quintet were separated by 48 seconds and scored 33 points to outdistance their local rivals Downingtown West by 85 points! Freshman Aislinn Devlin led Downingtown West with a 5th place finish, 2nd best freshmen time of the meet (11:17). Germantown Friends finished 6th overall with a score of 271 points with a 44 second spread. Brigit Anderson had the 22nd best performance of the meet with a time of 11:54.
For the boys, Conestoga, Downingtown West and North Penn all finished in the top five overall to give their seasons a major boost! Conestoga finished 2nd with 180 points and were led by Andrew Marston, who had the 6th best time of the day in 9:53. The squad had a 1-5 spread of 36 seconds and their five finishers inside the top 60. Downingtown West finished 4th with 215 points with a 1-5 spread of 13 seconds and five in the 30-60 place range. Freshman Drew Alansky ran 10:14 to finish 32nd overall. North Penn finished right behind Downingtown West with a score of 255 points and were led by a 17th place finish from Ryan Grace (10:03).
Hill School boys were the top PA sqaud, finishing 5th with a score of 157 points and were led by a 14th place finish from Luke Anderson (17:20). Mercersburg girls finished 12th to lead all PA squads and were led by sophomore Molly Taylor's time of 22:43.
Baldwin boys narrowly escaped Peters Township to come away with the team title 43-46. Both teams had three in the top ten and Peters Township had the individual champion Shaun Hay. But Baldwin had five in the top 13 places to edge out the team title. For the girls, Peters Township did what the boys could not do and that was get the best of Baldwin, winning the team title 35-42, thanks to four in the top nine overall. Beth Shenck of Avonworth ran 19:49 to win the indivdual title by nearly 30 seconds.
The top four boys teams were separated by 16 points with Punxsutawney using the boost provided by individual winner Bo Dinger to win the team title 53-56-58-69 over Blairsville, Allderdice and Indiana Area. Both Punxsutawney and Allderdice had their scoring five in the top twenty. Blairsville had 3 in the top ten and Indiana had twoof the top three to keep everything close. For the girls, Allderdice had all five scorers in the top twn led by a runner up performance from Amber Christian to win the team title over Punxsutaeney 31-50. The runners up were led by a gold medal performance from Juliann Boddorf, who ran 21:23 to win by 6 seconds.
Roman Catholic boys had eight of the top ten overall finishers with a 39 second spread separating the top five and a 52 second spread separating the top 8 to cruise to the team title with a score of 17 points. Matt Brown (17:10), Yesusera Hailou (17:13) and Patrick McCloskey (17:27) finished 1-2-3 to lead the charge. For the girls, it was a much closer affair, as Council Rock North did enough to hold off Gwynedd-Mercy Academy for the team title 55-62. CR North were led by runner up Kaelyn Heinicke's 18:51 performance. Individual honors went to George School's Jessica Bauer, who ran 18:27 to defend her home course.
US#22 TessaBarrett of Abington Heights was slightly under the weather, so she took a conservative approach and had a group of talented runners with her as she passed 800 meters in the girls Gold Race (AAA). But that was the last anyone saw of the Abington Heights senior, who extended her lead over the final 2.5 miles. Her final time of 17:48 eclipsed the course record set in 2012 at the PIAA state champs by Unionville's Courtney Smith, who ran 18:16. The fastest on the original layout (one without Poop-Out Hill - a highlight of the current course) had been a 17:49 by Central Cambria's Carly Seymour. US#9, PA#2, Pennsbury girls survived a scare, winning by 12 points over PA#3 Mt. Lebanon by a score of 78 to 90.
ChrisCummings, West Chester East, won the boys Gold Race (AAA) with a quick 16:13 clocking. US#19 NorthAllegheny boys steamrolled everyone with 31 points. The squad said after the race that they had come to Hershey to "make a statement". Their 16:33 average with a 16 second spread will be heard loud and clear across the Keystone State!
District 12's Archbishop Wood was a four point victor over District 10's Villa Maria Academy. Megan Connell led Archbishop Wood with a 5th place 20:02, while Villa's Bernadette Prichard was 8th in 20:07. Both are sophomores. West Allegheny's Alexis O'Shea took the individual honors, going 19:17. O'Shea felt the race was a good indicator. "I'm excited now to get a taste of victory."
Sophomore Dominic Hockenbury of Lake Lehman captured the Boys Blue (AA) Race in 16:43. But Pottsgrove, behind the 3rd place 17:10 by Derek Lopez, and 12th place finish of Josh Toth, won the team title with 101 points.
Vincentian Academy frosh Marianne Abdalah ran a quick 19:11 in the first race of the day. Without a chance to even see the course, she was told to take it out in a controlled pace. But by 400 meters she had a 50 meter lead. "I knew I was coming in seeded first, but I still wanted to push myself to have a really good time to get ready for states, because I know Kennedy is going to be right there." District 2 Class A rivals Elk Lake and Holy Cross gave a great preview of both their district meet with Elk Lake pulling out a narrow 58-60 victory in the Girls White (A) Race by placing five in the top 20. But the 3-4-5 finishes by Holy Cross, behind Mackenzie Greenfield's 20:19 could be the precursor to district and state glory.
In the Boys White (A) Race, junior Julian Degroot-Lutzner of Masterman (District 12) led the Dragons to an 18 point victory over Saegertown with a time of 16:55.
Altoona successfully defended their home course in convincing fashion, scoring 41 points to defeat the field by 59. Altoona had three in the top ten led by individual winner Dominic Stroh (16:18) and bronze medalist Brad Foust (16:34). For the girls, Kiski Area held off Class A squad Central Cambria 49-76 to win the girls team title. Both teams had three in the top nine, but Kiski had three in the top five led by individual winner Megan Aller (19:23).
Northern Potter boys had four of the top eight overall finishers led by silver medalist Tim Adams to cruise to the team title over Kane Area 37-73. Kane did have the individual winner of the race. Chris Hunt ran 17:22 to defeat Adams by 7 seconds. For the girls, Bradford defended their home turf in style with five of the top six overall places led by Makaila Banka and Sarah Eaton (21:05) to score 18 points and win by 37 points over Northern Potter.
Cardinal O'Hara boys successfully defended their Briarwood Championship title, but had to fight hard to keep it. Ross Wilson of Council Rock North got the best of O'Hara's Kevin James 15:51 to 15:56 to win the individual title. James, however, did lead five in the top 16 to score 43 points and win the team title. Inter-Ac Champions Malvern Prep finished 3rd with 86 points led by a Jaxson Hoey's 9th place finish.
In division 1, Casey Comber earned his 2nd top three finish in a major invitiational, finishing 2nd to lead PA runners in 16:35. In the team race, Lasalle made their invitational debut with a narrow 2 point victory over William Tennent 93-95. Lasalle were led by Brendan Bilotta's 4th place finish, while William Tennent kept it close with their race best 41 second 1-5 spread.
In division 2, Penn Charter's Scott Mason ran 16:37 to cruise to the individual title by nearly 30 seconds. His team also were the top PA squad in the race, finishing 4th with a score of 109 points, trailing three New Jersey schools for the team crown.
For the girls, Central Bucks East took home another team championship trophy, winning the girls championship race with a score of 28 points to defeat Great Valley by 25. Central Bucks East were led by a 1-2-3 finish from Elizabeth Huuki (19:37), Tate Dawson (20:04) and Elizabeth Morris (20:23).
In division 1, Upper Dublin carried the flag for PA, finishing 2nd with a score of 103 points, led by a 7th place finish from freshman Emily Stewart. Garnet Valley's Liz Mcgroarty finished 5th to lead all PA runners in the race.
In division 2, Episcopal Academy finished 3rd with a score of 85 points, just missing 2nd place by 2 points. Alexis Malmberg led the way for the Inter-Ac squad, finishing one place behind PA's top finisher in the race Grace Galligan of Springfield Delco. Kelly Hayes of Pearl River NY had the fastest time of the day, going 19:03.
Patrick Power of Spring Ford ran a solid 15:57 to cruise to the individual boys title. His performance led four in the top ten for the Rams as they came away with the team title over Upper Darby 26-59. For the girls, Owen J Robers swept the first three positions led by individual winner Jill Weston's 19:36 and Sarah Taylor's 19:37 to score 32 points and defeat host Perkiomen Valley by 17.
Sebastian Curtain of Mercyhurst Prep was 2nd in the boys varsity race, going 16:30 leading his team to a 4th place finish. Taylor Pletz was the top girl for Prep, running 20:54 for 28th place. Her team was 9th overall.
Simon Smith's 3rd place finish in 16:47 led Towanda to a 3rd place finish in New York with a score of 127 points. Schuyler Smith also finished in the top ten for Towanda (9th in 17:32). For the girls, Mansfield finished 6th with 149 points in a close meet, where the top six were separated by only 38 points. Leading the way for Mansfield was Violet Learn, who ran 21:03 to finish 2nd, 18 seconds behind the winner. Teammate Simone Lichty finished 4th overall with a time of 21:04.
September showers bring runners, mud and more mud to Buhl Park.
Ok, so it isn’t the proverb you learned as a child, but it was quite appropriate for the 2013 edition of the Sharpsville Blue Devil Invitational as heavy morning rain turned a dry circuit into a sloppy one once hundreds of harriers took the starting gun.
Event Title Important to Maplewood Standout
He was the first up Kite Hill after the start of the boys’ race, but Jeremy Parsons wasn’t expecting to have a solo run at the front. He figured it would come down to the final mile on the double-loop course to determine a winner. The Maplewood senior was able to shake off a pair of challengers at the two-mile mark and cruise to victory.
“They were ahead of me quite a bit during the race,” Parsons said of Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Jeff Van Kooten and North East’s Gary Olson. “It got me scared there for a little while, but I didn’t want to let myself down so I continued to push through it.
“All the tight corners in the woods, I couldn’t run tight corners (because of the mud). I had to go to the outside where it was somewhat dry. That benefited me a little bit, but (Olson) kept taking the inside and he got a little bit out of it.”
Fourth a year ago, Parsons had a stride on Olson as the lead pair exited the woods for the last time. Despite a steady rain and accumulating mud, Parsons almost duplicated his 2012 time of 16:34.1 that was achieved under drier, faster conditions as he pulled away and was the first to reach the umbrella-lined final straight and the chute.
“This course doesn’t really deal well with rain, that’s for sure,” said Parsons, who was the winner in 16:35.9. “It always gets muddy really quick. (I had) kind of been getting used to the nice weather and the dry courses, and then we have this one. It caught me off guard.”
A state medalist last year in Class A, Parsons said Saturday’s victory means a lot to him and his 2013 season.
“This was always one of my goals from the time I first raced here because it was always a huge race,” Parsons said. “It just seemed to me it was a huge honor to win the Sharpsville Invitational with all these kids here – triple A, double A, single A all in the same race.”
Olson hung on for second in 16:43.6, while Aaron Benka of Grove City was third in 16:51. Wentz Hanz of Maplewood claimed fourth in 16:52.7, and Van Kooten crossed fifth in 16:54.3.
Eagles Soar Over Team Standings
The team battle wasn’t nearly as close as the race for individual glory as Class AA Grove City outdistanced a pair of Class AAA teams from District 7 in the invitational that annually shapes up as a preview of the District 10 meet on the same layout. The Eagles, who were a close second last year in the state championships at Hershey, were winners Saturday with 107 points to 184 for Central Catholic and 250 for Moon Area.
“I was pretty pleased,” coach Mike Sample said. “I think we ran closer as a top 5 than we have all year. So that’s a positive thing to remind them of.”
The Eagles also added an eighth from Ryan Budnik in 17:09, while Nos. 3 through 5 for Grove City were only separated by about 5 seconds.
“Our No. 5 runner has changed hands a number of times,” Sample said of his varsity lineup. “We have about four or five guys that can run as my No. 5. They are all within 10 seconds of one another.
“I told them today someone needed to step up and solidify that spot and also move closer to No. 4. We have a nice 1 through 4, No. 5 is too far back.”
In looking ahead at the return trip to Buhl Park in five weeks when tickets to Hershey are at stake, the Grove City coach said his top two runners are critical to his squad’s success.
“Those two set the tone at practice, and they are also capable of making sure that the rest of the team members know where they need to be,” Sample said. “They are leaders in themselves, but over the years, we’ve had a number of individuals who know what it takes to get not one or two individuals to states but get a team to states. (Benka and Budnik) are feeding off the prior success of the program.”
North East Senior Leads Field, Grape Pickers to Victory
Umbrellas and boots were the order of the day, and North East’s Emma Verdonik couldn’t have been happier.
A self-described mud runner, the senior eased to the front and then withstood a final challenge to grab top individual honors. Verdonik’s clocking of 19:16.3 also helped Ted Miller’s squad get headed in the right direction toward a team title.
“Very muddy,” Verdonik said of the conditions. “It was great because we’ve been having so many meets where it’s been 80 to 90 degrees. It was nice to have a little bit of a break from that.
“I love running in the mud, love it. It’s my favorite time of year.”
By the time the field had finished its first trip through the wooded section, Verdonik had 2012 champion Lizzie Manickas of Neshannock shadowing her. At the base of Kite Hill on the second loop, Verdonik had opened a lead of about two seconds.
With a second trip up and down now behind them, the North East senior had a few seconds extra seconds of cushion over Manickas, who cracked into the 19s for the first time in the 2012 race. Entering the flag rope-lined final straight, Verdonik appeared to be headed to a comfortable margin of victory, but Manickas closed with a rush as the leader struggled home with stomach issues.
“I felt good the first mile, but after that I just felt very sick,” the winner said. “After the race I had a hard time standing up, but she put up a really good fight nonetheless. I was honored that I could run by her. She did a really good job today.
“I just had to remember everyone was doing the same thing you were. If you can do it, they can do it. If they can do it, you can do it.”
A year ago, a bulging disc curtailed Verdonik’s cross country season and resulted in her skipping the 2013 track season. Miller noted that his No. 1 runner’s current training regimen includes “lots of swimming” to help keep her back problems at bay.
“That gal came up on her,” Miller said of the final push by Manickas, who finished just seven-tenths of a second back. “Any former runner will tell you that the most vulnerable spot in the meet is to be ahead because everybody else can see you. A lot of runners just run to do it that way.
“(Emma) pressed it. If you want to beat me, catch me. She handled it well, she competed.”
Kelley Giles of Norwin was fourth in 19:40.1, while Verdonik’s teammate Kate Mcintosh was next in 19:46.8 and Joelle Klein was 10th in 10:14.90 as North East topped the team standings with 94 points. General McLane was next with 155, and Laurel was third with 188.
“I am very pleased, everybody seemed to come together,” Miller said of his girls’ team. “They’re a young group that I guess can be called hungry.
“They had great success at the middle school level. They have doubled their distance pretty much, and we’re really proud of them. They’re not all on the same page, but once they do get there, I think we might have some chances to do some nice things before the end of the year.”
Flash Summary by Phil Grove: Emma Verdonik of North East and Jeremy Parsons of Maplewood overcame rain and plenty of mud to win individual titles at Buhl Park. Taking advantage of the best conditions of the day, Verdonik was the pacesetter in the opening varsity race, holding off 2012 champion Lizzie Manickas of Neshannock by seven-tenths of a second, 19:16.3 to 19:17.0.
North East teammates Kate McIntosh finished fourth and Joelle Klein was 10th, lifting the Grape Pickers to the team title with 94 points. General McLane was next with 155, and Laurel was third with 188.
Parsons pulled away from a three-way battle at the two-mile mark, crossing the line in 16:35.9. North East’s Gary Olson was the runner-up at 16:43.6, while Aaron Benka of Grove City was third in 16:51 as the Eagles also added an eighth from Ryan Budnik to finish with 107 points. Pittsburgh Central Catholic was next at 184, while Moon Area was next at 250.