9th Annual Red, White & Blue Classic
By Phil Grove
There was a decided changing of the guard at the ninth annual Red, White & Blue Invitational, with Grove City's Daniel Jaskowak and Oakland Catholic's Charlotte Lampenfeld providing the individual highlights and PA#5 Mount Lebanon and Morgantown (W.Va.) taking team honors.
Jaskowak went to the front early on the Schenley Park course en route to a convincing victory in 15 minutes, 24 seconds. The junior became the first non-WPIAL runner to win the boys' competition at the Red, White & Blue.
"I think it really puts me out where I want to be for this year," Jaskowak said of his six-second victory. "I want to be in that top-ranked class (of runners), and I think that definitely got me there today. That is definitely what i wanted to do today, and I'm very happy with it."
Grove City coach Mike Sample said Jaskowak logged plenty of miles this summer in preparation for stepping out of the long shadows of former teammate Jake Kildoo, who is now running for Notre Dame after a standout prep career.
"Dan's a junior and he's just coming into his own," Sample said. "He really put a lot of time in this summer dedicating himself to running. He set some goals for himself, and I think they're achievable. I'm not going to say he ever ran in the shadow of Jake because he was always his own runner."
Although Jaskowak's victory might have been a surprise to some, the team triumph by Mount Lebanon was the Blue Devils' second dominant showing this season. On the heels of a perfect 15 points to win the California University Invitational on Sept. 3, the Blue Devils used senior Alex Moran's runner-up finish to lead the 58-team field with 83 points. North Allegheny, the top-ranked team in the state, finished second with 99.
"I'm excited because we really haven't done a lot of heavy repeat work," said Mount Lebanon coach Mike Agostinella. "We're just getting started as far as repeats. The kids looked strong, we look like we have pretty good depth.
"It is so difficult to have your pack be as strong when you have a guy like Alex up there banging away in the 15s. It's hard to make sure everything else happens well too."
North Allegheny's runner-up finish was just its second at Red, White & Blue. The Tigers racked up five championships and a pair of thirds in the other years.
"(This meet) shows you where you fit in amongst all the other teams," North Allegheny coach John Neff said. "It tells you where your kids are in the pecking order on your own team, too. You can do time trials and scrimmages and stuff but until you see how they compete in a big meet like this you don't really know who your best seven are. After today I have a pretty good sense of that."
PA#8 (Small School PA#1) Quaker Valley was third in the combined standings with 148 points, while Grove City used Jaskowak's victory to finish fourth with 251 and Cathedral Prep was fifth with 283. Baldwin's Andrew Kuchta was third in 15:31, and Quaker Valley's L.J. Westwood and North Allegheny's Logan Steiner were fourth and fifth in 15:50.
On the girls side, the 5,000-meter varsity race was intriguing as much for who won as who didn't. Oakland Catholic's Lampenfeld (18:27) outkicked Bethel Park's Hillary Boxheimer (18:30) after the duo ran in tandem for the final kilometer.
"This was perfect running weather," the winner said. "I love this race and I've done well here since I was a freshman. I really just wanted to finish it off, my last Red, White & Blue."
Norwin's Autumn Greba stormed home third in 18:52, six seconds ahead of a struggling Margo Malone of North Hills. Malone, last year's RW&B winner, collapsed immediately after crossing the line and received medical attention before getting back on her feet.
Younger sister Shannon, who was second a year ago, did not finish the race, collapsing near the two-mile mark and receiving aid from paramedics before walking off the course with her mother. Sophomore Mary Malone was 22nd after finishing 10th in 2010.
"It's the first meet of the season, everybody has the jitters and is nervous," North Hills coach Doug Sundo said of his standouts' troubles at Schenley Park. "We get it out of our system and we work toward the end of the season. That's what our goal is, the end of the season, not right now."
The girls team race also made history as Morgantown became the first out-of-state winner in their second trip to the invitational. Junior Brynn Harshbarger led the Mohigans in ninth at 19:12, while freshman Victoria Cooke was two spots back in 19:23.
"I was all over the Penn TrackXC Web site this week looking at results, trying to see the competition up here," said Morgantown coach Mike Ryan. "We came up last year, and I knew it was going to be a great meet. We are in a battle for 1 and 2 in our state, and this is a great opportunity for us to come and race against, instead of 1 or 2 great teams, a whole bunch of 'em. We definitly looked forward to this meet. Anytime we get a chance to come out of state and run well, we get excited."
In winning with 114 points, Morgantown had just 75 seconds separating their first and fifth runners. Mount Lebabon was second in the combined standings with 129, followed by Quaker Valley at 195 and Hempfield Area at 211. North Hills was fifth with 220.
Ryan said he used a powerpoint presentation of pictures of the entire course to prepare his team.
"We knew it was going to go out fast - the first mile on this course is crazy - and then the girls knew they had to run really hard and really tough coming back," he said. "I kept telling them you can make a little move in this race and get big results from it. And that's what a lot of our girls did."
Photo Gallery by Phil Grove
PTXC 3 - Presented by Puma
All photos by Patty Morgan, Charles Stone and Don Rich
Varsity Girls A (Gold)
Race Video: Girls Varsity A (Gold)
Cat & Mouse
In the most anticipated race of the day, Homer Center senior Angel Piccirillo (quick post-race comments) - (full post-race interview) proved why she’s just so dangerous -- and potentially why she’s the best runner in the state.
At 1K, Piccirillo was lurking about 10 meters behind the leaders
The reigning PIAA Class AA cross country champion and 2010 Foot Locker Finalist trailed three others nearly a mile and half into action, but turned a switch late and blew away the competition, finishing in 18 minutes, 39 seconds to take her first PTXC Varsity A girls title at the Kutztown University Farm Course.
It was her first win of the PTXC series after she finished in second a year ago to 2010 Foot Locker Champion Aisling Cuffe.
At just past 2k, Seykora was committed to a major move.
“Coming into this race, I was still coming into my base phase still,” said Piccirillo, who will take official visits to Georgetown, Tennessee and Villanova sometime this fall. “I didn’t know what to expect, place or time wise. I wanted to go into the race and stay in the middle, second mile catch up and third mile give it all I had. That’s what I did.”
That was the individual.
In somewhat of a minor stunner, 2010 PIAA AAA state runner-up West Chester Henderson built off a record-breaking spring track campaign with an important showing early in the cross country season. The team won the team title, scoring 52 points ahead of defending PIAA Class AAA champion Pennsbury, who was next in 61.
With 500 meters to go...
Henderson scored its first five runners in the top 20, with every competitor registering under 21 minutes. Conversely, Pennsbury had its first five register in the top 22, with freshman Erin O’Connell rounding out the pack in 20:53. At the mid-waypoint, Pennsbury had held the advantage.
Conrad Weiser was third with 146, Chambersburg was fourth in 148 and a not-so-secret Lower Dauphin squad was fifth with 152 points.
While her placement was hardly a surprise, the way Piccirillo implemented her strategy was, at the very least entertaining. In a field that included some of the best Class AA and AAA talent this season, it seemed she hardly broke a sweat.
“I don’t have the speed training to do what I normally would do,“ she said, “so we wanted to come here and react. We had no idea what would happen, what time. So this was a race to see where I’m at.”
Kristen Traub of Eastern Christian in New Jersey was the next fastest competitor, finishing in 18:57, while Academy of Notre Dame’s Maria Seykora was third in 19:07 and Pennsbury’s Sara Sargent (post-race interview) finished in 19:09. In an impressive showing, Liberty senior Amy Darlington was fifth in 19:16.
Ten runners recorded times under 20 minutes despite a soggy course, including Elk County Catholic’s Kennedy Weisner (19:21), Penn Charter’s Cathryn Skinner (19:42), West Chester Henderon’s Stephanie Aldrich (19:47), Lower Dauphin’s DeeDee Shea (19:48) and W.C. Henderson’s Jayne Augustyn (19:59). The field, inarguably the top class entering the invitational, didn’t disappoint.
“This is my first race of the season, so I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself,“ said Sykora, who has a number of Ivy League schools that are interested in her talents, including Harvard, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. “I thought I would be able to hold my position, but I faded at the end. Now I know what it takes to maintain that pace.”
Despite a fourth place finish, Sargent looked refreshed and eager for a new season. The Pennsbury junior raced extremely hard as a sophomore while fighting a back-and-forth battle with mono… so she took a much-needed multi-week break after the spring track season to wind down and then build back up.
PA#2 West Chester Henderson beat PA#1 Pennsbury by nine.
But Piccirillo was the key story.
Building up to this point, she had been producing 50 mile weeks to build leg strength and stamina. So you didn’t see the typical breakout speed that had been a custom of her races. That’s all in the future, she admitted.
“I think this is a good sign, Piccirillo said. “My coach and I didn’t know what kind of time I would run. Coming out here, to break 19 I’m really pleased. I’m happy and excited. Hopefully when I get more speed training, I’ll see what times I can get.”
Varsity Boys A (Gold)
Fighting for all the right reasons.
You could see the fight in his eyes, the bite in his lip. When North Schuylkill’s Brenda Shearn (video interview) (quick post-race comments) spoke about the reasons why he initially took up cross country, it was all about respect.
“I never really got much of a chance in other sports, in baseball or basketball, but I always knew I was a decent athlete, so I figured why not,“ Shearn said. “There’s no bickering, so I stuck with the individual sports.”
The lean and shaggy-haired harrier dominated his competition during the PTXC-3 Varsity A Gold race on Saturday at Kutztown University, pulling away late on the 3.1 mile course for a finishing time of 16 minutes, 24 seconds. It was impressive, considering most of the course was pockmarked with water, mud and tuffs of grass.
Altoona’s Dylan Mountain and Korey Replogle (post-race interview) were second and third respectively, registering times of 16:40 and 16:51 -- which was also impressive considering the team graduated its rock star in Wade Endress, a state medalist who currently is running for Penn State University. Altoona was fifth in team placement, scoring 125 points.
Shearn, a junior for North Schuylkill, has the potential to have a breakout season in 2011. Saturday’s win was his first big conquest in his career, and one he hopes won’t be his last. Later on the docket are meets at Carlisle and Paul Short.
A key could be the competition he faces this season. No longer will he be a big fish in a small pond. Up next for Shearn are the big dogs.
“I’ve won races, but most of the invitationals my school has run, they were low key races,“ he said. “This is my first high competition win. I’m starting to go to bigger invites, like Paul Short and Carlisle. To get my name out there and be out there with the big guns, I’ll take it.
For any runner this early in the year, it’s important not get ahead of yourself. Shearn understands that. But he also knows his end goal.
However audacious, he’s willing to put it out there.
“My goal in double-A is to win the state,“ said Shearn, who was 15th last year. “There are great guys in the field… they’re all real good guys, but this puts me on their level and I think I can be on their level.”
Considering last year’s winner, Trinity’s Tommy Gruschow, has graduated, the field is effectively open for the taking.
Placing fourth in a deep boys’ field was Governor Mifflin’s Evan Williams in 17:06. William’s squad had the last laugh, recording the varsity team title with 69 points. Lower Dauphin sophomore Jeff Groh was fifth in 17:12 and aided his team in a fourth place team finish.
Osbourn Park, out of Virginia, was third in the team placement, scoring 73 points. Andrew Natour was 11th overall, finishing in 17:33. Chambersburg was fourth overall with 73 points.
Varsity Girls B (Blue)
Packing a small punch
Sophomore Danae Peters (video interview) (quick post-race comments) may be slight in size, but she’s carrying the weight for Manheim Central.
The lithe athlete, standing about 5-foot-3, is one of just five girls on her cross country team. She was one of just three on the Barons team a year ago -- and that team graduated its lone senior.
This year’s team has a number of first-timers, so her veteran status was moved up the line fairly quickly.
But Peters seems to be ready for the challenge. She claimed first place in the PTXC-3 Varsity B girls’ race on Saturday at Kutztown University, registering a time of 20 minutes, 41 seconds.
“I was surprised,“ said Peters, who was a district qualifier a year ago. “I did not expect to win. But it’s pretty awesome.”
Through a mile and half, Peters had a sizable lead on her competition, and that lead only grew with more time and length. She outdistanced her competitors by over 30 seconds, beating Lower Merion’s Lacey Serletti, who finished in 21:12.
Peters has taken the role as a leader for a team that, beyond her, is about building. She serves as the team’s foundation. And this year, she says, she’s ready to break out. A high finish in districts, and potentially a berth in states, is something she feels she can accomplish.
“Definitely,” she said.
She began the sport a year ago as a freshman.
“I really like running,” she said. “It’s fun. I found that I enjoy running and I’m pretty good at it.”
Christopher Dock senior Carrie Gehman was third overall with a time of 21:16. She was followed by Kelly Boulger of Coatesville in fourth at 21:21 and Judy Mabone of William Tennent in fifth at 21:26.
In the team race, Daniel Boone tallied 73 points behind the 10th and 11th place finishes of sophomores Alexandria Hamill (21:59) and Alexandra Santora (22:13). William Tennent captured 2nd with 104 points behind sophomore Mabone's 5th place 21:26.
Varsity Boys B (Blue)
At the core of his success.
There’s a reason why 20-minute abs are routine repetition for most cross country programs.
A strong core will yield strong performances. It’s as simple as that.
Lancaster Mennonite senior Jared Schatz (video interview) was a student of the weight room this summer.
The senior bulked up with his father and came into the season ready. On Saturday during the PTXC-3’s varsity boys’ B race (Blue), Schatz gave kudos to his muscular endurance as one reason for his event win in 17 minutes, 27 seconds.
“I knew I had the running, but I wasn’t as strong with my upper body,” said Schatz, who worked specifically on his chest, shoulders and abs. “My dad and I worked real hard in the offseason with lifting, just to get that kick in the end.”
Saturday was his first official race win ever.
“That was a real surprise,” he said.
But Schatz is working hard for a reason. He hopes to challenge for the District 3 Class AA individual title, and then platform it into a medal at states.
He finished 28th in the PIAA event a year ago. The finish was slightly disappointing for the senior, who has taken a leadership role with Lancaster Mennonite.
Schatz pulled away during the straightaways, using his long legs and consistent energy. That’s one of his biggest strengths, he said, taking the field when its close to mailing it in. A two-mile veteran on the track, Schatz has the speed of an 800er too. His Lancaster Mennonite relay team was seventh in outdoor states last spring.
“I realized they weren’t going away, so that’s when I took off,“ he said. “The longer it goes, that’s what I like.”
Schatz’s team was second overall in team placement, scoring 115 points. Morris Hills of New Jersey was first with 65; Daniel Boone was third with 128; Ephrata was fourth with 138 points; and Manheim Central was fifth with 166 points.
Tyler Sensenig was second overall individually, recording a time of 17:31. Daniel Boone’s Luke Miller was third in 17:32, Morris Hills’ Travis Ellis was fourth in 17:39 and Christopher Dock’s Charlie Frank was fifth in 17:47.
Junior Varsity Girls
Maddie Bixler couldn’t find an answer. Not at first, anyway.
Captain? West Chester Henderson doesn’t rely on just one person, just one leader.
“We wear Henderson on our jerseys,” she said, “Not our last names on the back.”
But someone has to take credit for Bixler’s effort, a 22 minute, 36 second first place finish in the PTXC-3 junior varsity girls’ race. Right?
“We don’t have one,” she said. “We don’t’ have a captain.”
Maybe that’s the allure of West Chester Henderson. The all-for-one mentality seems to be working. Really working.
Bixler won the jayvee race, but she was directly followed by teammates Julia Krusen (22:58) and Kathryn Alexander (23:02). West Chester Henderson had five finishers in the top 16 and won the team title by a margin of 37 points, scoring 34 overall. Chambersburg was next with 71 points.
In varsity action, West Chester Henderson‘s starters put together another stunner. Pennsbury, the defending PIAA Class AAA champs, came up second (61), to the Warriors (52).
Captains often define the face of a program. For West Chester Henderson, the face of the program is the school name on their jersey.
“When I heard my team cheering loud, it was at mile two maybe,” Bixler said. “I’m No. 8. I’m fighting to get on varsity, but they’re cheering.”
West Chester Henderson, from the top runner down to its last, is showing the rest of the state why they’re so successful.
All for one, one for all.
Freshman Alexis Shearer, of Chambersburg, was fourth with a time of 23:09. Greater Latrobe’s Taylor Klasnic was fifth in 23:15.
Junior Varsity Boys
What’s the first win of Sean Weidner’s cross country season going to get the Lower Dauphin freshman?
A pat on the back. That’s about it.
Despite his excellent showing in the PTXC-3 junior varsity boys’ race, Weidner (video interview) still sits outside of the point-scoring list for the Falcons. As a freshman, he expected that.
But he’s content.
The rookie runner, who clocked a 19 minute, 7 second time at Kutztown University, is looking to move up the charts anyway he can.
“Last time I checked I was 10,” said Weidner, who was so green leading at the finish line that he almost missed his turn, “so right now maybe I’m eight or nine. I was shooting for that. I don’t know if it’ll happen, but that would be cool. That’s my long term goal.”
Sometimes it’s good to wait. For Weidner, he has a strong team in front of him. Sophomore Jeff Groh was a district medalist and state qualifier a year ago. Other runners, including senior Dan Mummau and Dan McCreary, are solid mentors.
A part of learning is about watching variables, about studying trends. Weidner admitted that he needs to take mental and physical notes in order to get better.
“This race gives me a clue as to where I’ll stack up in the coming years,“ Weidner said. “I’m hoping to keep doing fairly well and help my team.”
He can do that and more. What’s the benefit of having veterans? There will never be a lack of competition.
“I like having a fairly solid team,“ Weidner said. “It makes you feel like you have to work harder to keep up with that team.”
Mummau was fourth overall in the jayvee race, finishing in 19:35. Altoona sophomore Mason McGinnis was second in 19:21. Chambersburg’s Mitchell Maier was third in 19:33, while senior teammate Collin Mangan was fifth in 19:37.
Lower Dauphin won the team competition, scoring 43 points. Altoona was second with 46, Chambersburg was third with 79, Conrad Weiser fourth with 154 and Governor Mifflin fifth with 167.
Middle School Girls (2500m)
A quick lesson in cross country metrics was illustrated for the PTXC-3’s middle school girls on Saturday at Kutztown University.
It went like this: First is nice, and second is great too, but three in the first five will -- likely -- always warrant you a win.
Oley Valley finished three first-time harriers in the top five, claiming the section’s team title with 31 points. Amanda Aulenbach was third in 11:35, Molly Talarico was fourth in 11:39 and Madison Wagner rounded the tight pack at 11:43.
Afterward, satisfied Oley Valley middle school coach Linda Svydam was ecstatic.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Svydam said. “They’re middle school kids and they’re running as a pack. And that makes me so happy. All of them are first year runners. And that pleases me.”
Practice makes perfect, but real lessons are often learned in competition. Oley Valley strategizes effectively, stocking in an idea that is as simple as time itself.
If you run together and push together, you will earn results together. Oley Valley’s fourth and fifth, Skyler Bonelli and Rachael Geary, were 14th and 15th, respectively.
“We ran Tuesday in a mess of a course,“ Svydam said. “They didn’t know any better in terms of racing, so I’m really proud of them.”
A mature Montoursville’s Nicole Weisser (video interview) was first in 10:40, displaying a powerful finishing touch, while Boehm’s Hannah Molloy was second in 10:51.
Middle School Boys (2500m)
See Me While You Still Can
The Wyomissing cross country program needs to enjoy Jack DiCintio and Jack Mahon (video interview) while it can. The eighth grade tandem likely won’t be around next year when they become freshmen.
DiCintio and Mahon are avid soccer players, so that means cross country would interfere in the fall. But fortunately enough for Wyomissing, it has a full season to convince the pair to continue running county and postseason meets.
If Saturday was a nice first indication, the pair could have a bright future in cross country. DiCintio was the first to dart past the finish line during the PTXC-3 middle school boys’ final at Kutztown University, an abbreviated 1.5 mile stretch that was drenched in moisture from recent storms.
DiCintio registered in 9 minutes, 59 seconds while Mahon followed in third place at 10:12.
“I love the exhilaration of seeing the crowd cheering for you,” said Mahon, who admitted DiCintio is his best friend. “We had a strategy to go out hard and then settle in and charge the hills. If we had our whole team, we would have won.”
Scary to think so much talent might not continue lining Berks county starting lines, but it’s a possibility.
“I’m going to do basketball, track and soccer in high school, so I don’t really know what I want to do,” said DiCintio, who once finished the Philadelphia Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race in Center City. “I take it seriously, but it’s just to have fun.”
Mahon seemed more likely to turn, considering he was sporting typical runner locks -- long, flowing blonde hair parted to the side. Plus, he was ultra competitive.
“It’s not like you’re racing against a complete stranger,“ he said of pairing with DiCintio on Saturday. “I hate when they beat you.”
Wyomissing might hate losing two of its brightest prospects, too.
Oley Valley’s Hunter Stringfello finished in 10:08 and led the Lynx to a team title. Veritas Academy’s Owen Bender was fourth in 10:26 while Ian Lauver of Manheim Central rounded out the top five with a time of 10:38. Oley Valley was the team champion.
PTXC 3 Preview by Lex Mercado
The 3rd edition of the PTXC Invitational will feature a star studded field of quality runners and the two best AAA girls teams in the state who will be running through the mud and slop of Kutztown University. The brand new course will bring its own challenges but the event will still be electric!
Defending AAA state champions Pennsbury girls will make their 2011 debut this weekend, and PTXC 3 is the first stop on their journey to repeat. Sara Sargent will be looking to make a strong impression on her competition. Both Sargent and her team were the winners of the inagural event back in 2009. West Chester Henderson was the team champion last year at PTXC 2.
After a debut win at the Immaculata relays, Henderson will be looking to defend their team title that won via a tie breaker with Osbourne Park, who will also be making their return to PTXC 3 all the way from Virginia. Janie Augustyn and Michelle Tracy will be leading the title defense for Henderson. 3rd place Lower Dauphin will also be back and so with 4th place private school Academy of Notre Dame.
Individually, Angel Piccirrillo of Homer Center will make her 2011 debut after finishing 2nd at this meet last year to 2010 Foot Locker National Champion Aisling Cuffe. Maria Seykora of Notre Dame Academy had a great junior track season and earned a top ten finish at this meet last year. Kennedy Weisner of Elk COunty Catholic will be making her first appearance to the annual early season classic. Weisner is coming off a personal best 18:39 at the Big Valley Invitational last weekend. Ann Herman of Pennsbury will also be in the mix along with teammate Sargent. DeeDee Shea of Lower Dauphin was the 3rd place finisher last season.
For the boys race, PTXC 2 champion Altoona is back to defend their title that they earned in comfortable fashion. They may have graduated some talented runners, but they have guys ready to put up a very respectable performance. The highlight of the boys race last year was how close the race became between the top three guys. The top returners from last year are Altoona's Korey Replogle (4th) and Governor Mifflin's Levi Lang (17th) and Dalton Fisher (19th).
Since the races will be at a brand new course, then the winners will become the new course record holders. The meet records are 15:26 by Wade Endress of Altoona and 17:17 by Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall (NY).
Photo Gallery by Patty Morgan
Photo Gallery by Charles Stone
Photo Gallery by Don Rich
Girls Varsity A (Gold)
Boys Varsity A (Gold)
Junior Varsity Boys
Junior Varsity Girls
Middle School Boys
Middle School Girls
Angel Piccirillo - Girls Varsity Gold Champ (quick post-race comment
Angel Piccirillo - Post-Race interview
Sara Sargent - Girls Varsity Gold 4th place (2009 PTXC-1 Champion)
Brendan Shearn - Boys Varsity Gold Champ
Korey Replogle and Dylan Mountain - Altoona (3rd & 2nd place in Boys Varsity Gold
Brendan Shearn - quick post-race comments
Danae Peters - Girls Varsity Blue Champion
Dana Peters - Quick post-race comments
Jared Schatz - Boys Varsity B (Blue) Champion
Sean Weidner - Boys Junior Varsity Champion
Nicole Weisser - Middle School Champion
Jack DiCintio and Jack Mahon - Boys Middle School