PTXC's Takes from the weekend of September 27

Talking Points September 27

Brehm and Clahane will be there when it counts

Both Zack Brehm of Carlisle and Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley stumbled out of the blocks to start the season, tasting rare defeat at their respective first invitationals. Perhaps Clahane’s defeat to Marissa Sheva of Pennridge was more damaging compared to Brehm’s defeat to Griffin Molino of South Williamsport simply because they will see each other again at states. With the competition getting better and better every year, athletes who have succeeded in the past aren’t guaranteed to stay near the top the next season. Saturday’s Carlisle Invitational was their chance to prove to themselves that they can still contend and stop their early season blips.

Both runners came in as defending champions in their respective races. Both had strong competition looking to make a big splash at their expense. The eyes of the Carlisle Invitational fans were on these two stars and their quality shined brighter than the Saturday sunshine!

Clahane may not have run the 17:28 time that won her the title last season, but 17:54 is still a season best for the junior. Clahane was also being chased by the Class A favorite, Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian Academy, who was on a hot streak of 2 straight wins. Getting a win at a crucial time of the season on a familiar course against a state champion proved that Clahane will be back to make a push for that long awaited state title in just under five weeks.

Brehm not only had to get his season on track, but he had to do it on his home course in front of all his school peers and it was his final home invitational race. So much riding on that one race and the senior broke out once again on top. His performance of 15:23 is the 3rd best time in the state this season, trailing Kevin James of Cardinal O’Hara and Colin Abert of Easton. Brehm is the lone individual state champion in the group, which could give him a big advantage when all the chips are down and the title in on the line November 1.

You could tell how much the win meant to Brehm and to his peers when he crossed the finish line. It will mean much more if it catapults him to a state championship.


Conestoga boys may have the pieces to a state title puzzle

After five weeks of waiting, one of the AAA state title contenders, Conestoga, finally competed in a big invitational of 3 miles or 5000 meters. They had teased fans with their capabilities with their performances at some 2 mile invitationals in the early weeks. But without a team stepping forward and making a mark in the division, fans wondered if Conestoga would make that big splash.

And the splash was massive!

Andrew Marston proved that he is a major player in the AAA state title race, winning the AAA seeded race in 14:31.3 over 3 miles! The victory is the biggest of his career and it marked his first win at 3 miles or 5000 meters at a varsity invitational race!

His supporting cast performed well against two highly nationally ranked sides in Fayetteville-Manlius and Liverpool, both of New York. Their top five all broke 16 minutes for 3 miles, and their next two were under 16:15. The team scored 96 points to earn 3rd place in the race and overall when all team results were merged.

For the team’s first big race in nearly a year, Conestoga rose to the challenge. Next up will be the 4000 meter distance at Manhattan on October 11. More big competition will be waiting. Can they keep this up?


Boys individuals are having an excellent season!

For the past couple of seasons, the performances of the girls in PA have received not just state wide attention, but also nationwide attention. Runners from the like Angel Piccirillo, Tessa Barrett, Kennedy Weisner and Regan Rome to current stars like Brianna Schwartz, Mady Clahane, Marissa Sheva and Madeleine Davison have performed at the highest level at the biggest meets. Their quality has improved the depth and quality of talent in PA as a whole in the past 5 years. At times, their feats had overshadowed the quality that does exist on the boys side.

Based on the numbers halfway through the 2014 season, the boys are having a huge season of their own!

Through five weeks of competition, PA has four runners in the national top 100 list (all under 15:28) and 22 runners that have broken the 16 minute mark. PA ranks 11th in the country for runners under 16 minutes, bettering states like New Jersey and Virginia and just trailing the likes of Colorado (23), Florida (24) and North Carolina (29).

In PA’s group of 22 sub 16 minute runners, 14 of them are seniors, with Kevin James of Cardinal O’Hara, Colin Abert of Easton, and Zach Brehm of Carlisle ranking in the top 50 seniors in the country. Jaxson Hoey of Malvern Prep is the 27th ranked junior nationally, and Nick Dahl of Germantown Friends has the 6th best time for a sophomore this season.

The second half of the season should produce more amazing performances and perhaps even add on the sub 16 minute list. For curiosity’s sake, PA has 19 girls under 19 minutes this season, 15th best in the country.


Brooke Hutton is a star in the making

It’s not very often that you see 9th graders succeed at a high level on a consistent basis. But the 2014 newcomer who has managed to achieve consistent success through half a season is Brooke Hutton of Coatesville.

Hutton has stepped in for a team that has had some good individuals come through their ranks, with the most recent star Kelly Boulger medaling in the 3200 meter run back in 2012. Hutton’s impact in her first season may not be on the level of Sara Sargent’s famous freshman season of 2009, but it’s been impressive.

Through Hutton’s four races, she has won three of them and finished 2nd in the other. She has defended her home turf, winning the Steel City Invitational, defeating the experienced and strong runners of North Penn with her season best time of 18:50. Prior to that, she held off a strong Kierra Zack of Northern to win the Blue race at PTXC 6, her first career win. Over the weekend, Hutton went to another big competition, Carlisle, and held off the strong Central Cambria sophomore foursome and Kennard-Dale’s Kayla White to extend her winning streak to 3 meets.

Small meets, check. Big Invitationals, check. Next up are the championship meets, where she can test her credentials against PA’s established stars.