PTXC 13 RECAP: Thrillers on the Farm Course

The sun rose over a beautiful Kutztown Farm Course as the dew-laden grass glistened in the morning gleam. But then PTXC 13 began. That once harmonious field was torn to shreds as the Northeast's finest did battle. The outcomes were unexpected.

For some, PTXC 13 marked the beginning of a new and tumultuous season; for others, it marked a midpoint. Onlookers and spectators at Kutztown were given a treat, as several teams emerged as surprise winners and numerous individuals etched a name for themselves.

Here is your PTXC 13 Recap.

Gold Boys:

Through Mile 1, there was a tight pack, but one thing was evident, Saint Anthony's (NY) came out swinging. The lead boys came through the first mile around 5:05, with the Hess brothers from Lewisburg leading the way. Saint Anthony's positioned five boys inside the top ten, and it became apparent early that they would be tough to challenge.

Through two miles, not much had changed. Severna Park's Liam Hagerty had moved to the front, but there was a vicious pack of Saint Anthony kids clipping at his heels. Also in that pack, Ari Snyder (Chambersburg), Devon Rosemark (Danbury CT), and Jonathan Hess held strong.

While slight moves were made back and forth, no clear winners had separated themselves on the hill to the water tower. In fact, despite an increase in pace, no clear move was made until the bottom of the last uphill. Hagerty made his move there, trusting his fitness and pushing his way to the win, up the long-ending hill.

For Hagerty, the win represents the early stages of a new him. Last year he finished 34th at this meet, running 17:17, a full minute slower.

Similarly, for Chambersburg's Snyder, this race could represent the beginning of a breakout campaign. He finished in third with a 16:21 final, and although he beat Hagerty last year... he had only run 17:10 on this same course.

Saint Anthony's ran away with the team title, scoring just 30 points. Cumberland Valley and Exeter finished second and third with 108 and 109 points, respectively.

For Saint Anthony's, the early season win was crucial. They graduated a lot of talent last year, but with this performance have reasserted themselves as one of the top teams in the Northeast Region. Their spread of just 10-seconds will be instrumental throughout the season, and although they're not in PA, we'll be watching to see where they stack up at the end of the year.

Gold Girls:

Like the Gold Boy's race, a pack held strong through one mile. Chambersburg's Camryn Kiser led the lead pack of 11 girls through the first mile in a quick 6:03. It was apparent from the get-go that these girls were getting after it and trying to set a fast time from the gun.

Through two miles, that pack had separated slightly, and Lillian DiCola of Hatboro had slipped off the back slightly. But unbeknownst to onlookers, she had recognized the gap and tried to close it quickly before the big uphill to the water tower.

There, she reconnected with Kiser, Anna Pucilowski (Abington Heights), Brooke Preputnick (Hershey), and Anna Carruthers (Phoenixville), then began to hammer the uphill. At this point in the race, it was impossible to calculate team scores. A steady distribution of jerseys streamed by us, and there was no distinct advantage held by any team.

DiCola ran hard over the back hills and was able to separate herself from her competitors, eventually crossing the line in 18:46, 13 seconds before Preputnick in second and 16 seconds before Pucilowski in third.

DiCola crossed the line, visibly satisfied with her performance. It was her first hard effort in the 2022 campaign. She caught up with us after the race:

The performance marked the first of a bright and young career for eventual fifth-place finisher Carly Keith. She ran an impressive 19:28 in her high school debut, but it was slightly expected of the 5:12 1600m runner. We'll watch how she performs over the rest of the season.

The Hershey girls walked away with the team title slightly unexpectedly. Few would have forecasted them as the winners before Saturday's showing, but now they are on the radar. Hershey scored 83 points and logged an impressive average of 20:19, despite the challenging course.

Chambersburg and Phoenixville finished second and third, with 116 and 146 points, respectively.

Blue Boys:

Finally, we got a race with fewer surprises. In our PTXC preview, we predicted Mendham High (NJ) would win this race handily, and they did win, but not without a little bit of drama and contention from Montgomery.

The Blue boys got out with a similar clip to the Gold Boys, with the leaders coming through one mile around 5:07. There was an early breakaway of about ten boys, but a steady sea of boys after them.

Over that next mile, four boys separated from the pack: Nick Hockenbury (Lake Lehman), Tyler Husar (Montgomery), Ryan Bickhart (Milton Area), and Callahan Porter (Mendham), but at the two-mile mark, Hockenbury and Bickhart had a few strides on Porter and Husar. 

Allegedly, Bickhart had made a strong move around the 2500m mark, and while the other three had responded, the rest of the pack had not. Now sweeping downhill before the water tower uphill, fatigue began to set in for the front four. 

Bickhart and Hockenbury pressed the hills, but Bickhart would eventually come away with the Blue win in 16:40. Hockenbury finished second in 16:46, while Porter snagged third in 16:53. For all of the front four, the times marked personal bests.

Mendham held on for the team win, but Montgomery was close. Mendham earned the win by a five-point margin, 86 to 91. The NJ teams will likely see each other more throughout the year, but the victory was a good start for the Group 3 school.

Blue Girls

The Blue Girls race was unlike any other of the day. The reason for that? Lewisburg freshman Baylee Espinosa. Running just her second competitive 5k ever, Espinosa made it clear from the start that she was a force to be reckoned with. 

By the first mile, Espinosa and Montgomery's Julia Scrudato had broken away from the pack, claiming the first mile in sub 6:10 pace. Scrudato is no slouch. She has run 10:45 over 3200m and 18:34 over 5k. In NJ, she was a Meet of Champs state medalist this spring, running 4:54 over the 1600m distance.

Although Espinosa is a freshman, she packed a punch in Middle School, having run 11:12 over 3200m.

Over the second mile, Espinosa surged on Scrudato, opening a massive 20-second lead. While that was certainly a surprise, the team race stunned us. A team that had graduated four seniors from the State Championship last year came out in force to prove that they were still a top team in the state. At two miles, Lewisburg had four girls in the top 10.

Over the next mile, both Espinosa and her team cemented their respective victories. Espinosa finished in 19:30, while Lewisburg took the win by a 15-point margin over Dallas. Lower Moreland finished third with 141 points.

Amelia Ogawa of Lower Moreland eventually passed Scrudato for second, and those two finished in 19:47 and 19:52, respectively.