19th Carlisle High School Invitational
Photos by Charles Stone
PA#3 North Allegheny boys placed five in the top 26 led by a 5th place finish from Logan Steiner (16:13.9) and a 1-5 spread of 34 seconds to cruise to their 2nd straight challenge team title at Carlisle. Their 76 points were the only score under 150. Lasalle finished 2nd with a score of 155, led by a silver medal finish from Tom Coyle (16:10.2). Brendan Shearn of North Schuylkill won his 2nd big invitational of the season with a time of 16:05.8. In the Championship race, Liam Corcoran of James Buchanan won a close race with Connor Quinn of Washingtonville. Corcoran's time of 16:51.5 was just over a second better than Quinn. Quinn's team did cruise to the team title with 73 points with three in the top eight overall.
For the girls, Greta Lindsley of Penn Manor ran 18:44.6 to take home the gold medal in the Challenge race, ten seconds better than Maria Seykora of Notre Dame, who earned her 3rd straight top four finish this season. In the team race, PA#8 North Allegheny had a 39 second spread from their 1st to 5th, but it wasn't enough to hold off upstart Chambersburg. Natalie Holder finished 13th (19:51.4) for Chambersburg who had three in the top fifteen team places and four in the top 25 scoring places to upset North Allegheny 102-118. In the Championship race, 2011 AAA 1600 meter bronze medalist Sarah Holl of Upper Dublin (19:25.8) held of Danae Peters of Maheim Central by just under 2 seconds to win the title. Holl's team would finish 2nd to Palmyra 88-117. Palmyra used a 5-6 overall finish from Laura Duquette (19:53.4) and Maria Tukis (19:57.1) to win the team title.
MEET PREVIEW by Lex Mercado
The boys Puma Challenge race features North Allegheny, who is fresh off of a solid victory at the Boardman Spartan Invitational in Ohio. In that competition, they scored 96 points with five in the top 25 overall separated by 43 seconds. Last time North Allegheny ran in PA, however, they were narrowly defeated by top ranked Mount Lebanon. They won this meet last season and have a good opportunity to do it again. Holy Ghost Prep has had a nice start to their season, recently winning the Centaur Invitational at Desales University on September 10. Lasalle will be making their first invitational appearance since running in the Quad X relays where they were victorious. Tom Trainer has graduated, but Lasalle have always found ways to contend in every race they compete in.
Top individual returner to this competition is Quinn Devlin of Downingtown West. He finished 5th a year ago in 15:57 and was only one of two underclassmen to finish in the top ten. This will be Devlin's first 5k invitational this season. Logan Steiner of North Allegheny will also contend for the gold medal. He's run 15:50 so far this season. Teammate Tim Appman has started the 2011 season well with a seasonal best of 16:05. Mike Runco of Pittsburgh Central Catholic has run 15:57 this season and will look to make a big name for himself on Saturday. Ryan Archer of Vincentian Academy has run sub 16:20 this year.
North Allegheny girls will also look to repeat as Puma Challenge champions after putting on a dazzling performance last year, when they scored 56 points, placed five in the top 21 and had a 53 second spread. After a 3rd place finish in Ohio over the weekend, they will look to repeat as champions. Academy of Notre Dame will look to run with the district 7 powerhouse. Notre Dame has competed in some big meets the past couple weeks. They finished 7th in the gold race at PTXC 3 and they finished 4th in the championship race at Briarwood. Lower Dauphin returns to the Challenge race after finishing 3rd a year ago. They were in 5th place in the gold race at PTXC 3. They bring a strong top two to the competition.
DeeDee Shea of Lower Dauphin is the top returner to this meet, finishing 2nd a year ago in 19:06. At PTXC 3, she finished 10th in a star studded field and will look to have similar success in her 2nd trip to Carlisle. Northern Bedford's Maria Snyder had a very strong debut race on September 3rd at Lock Haven, running 18:29. She has three top five finishes thus far this season. Maria Seykora of Notre Dame finished 4th at the Briarwood Invitational and 3rd at PTXC 3. North Allegheny's Lizzie Appleton finished in the top ten a year ago, and teammate Shannon Wagner has been leading the way for that squad so far in 2011.
Photo Gallery by Megan Zeller
Photo Gallery by Charles Stone
Brendan Shearn - Boys Puma Champ
Greta Lindsley - Girls Puma Champ
Boys Puma Challenge Race
Girls Puma Challenge
Boys Champions Race
Girls Champions Race
Boys JV Race
Girls JV Race
5th PIAA Foundation XC Invitational
Aloha Hills photos by Patty Morgan - 600m & Finish photos by Don Rich
Girls Blue Race (AA)
By Cory Mull
HERSHEY -- Holy Redeemer junior Marissa Durako had a simple goal: beat her time from a year ago.
On Saturday at the PIAA Foundation Invitational Varsity Blue Girls' race, she did that and more, capturing a surprising win and a personal best course time of 19 minutes, 43 seconds.
Durako, who crossed the Parkview course finish almost effortlessly, was the only competitor to break 20 minutes in the small school girls' race.
"It was definitely tiring the whole time, but at the end I felt good and felt I could go more if I had to," said Durako, who was 16th at states and 19th at this same race a year ago.
Holy Redeemer head coach Ed Romm wasn't satisfied. He thinks there's still room to grow.
"She's very rarely exhausted at the end of a race, so we're working on her late speed," Romm said.
Nonetheless, it's been a successful start to 2011 thus far, as Durako has claimed dual meet wins and another big meet victory at the Cliff Robbins Invitational in early September -- she ran a 19:52. The junior logged 50 mile weeks over the summer to prepare for the season.
"She runs exceptionally well in bad conditions," said Romm, commenting on the soggy conditions in Hershey. "She's a very strong runner. She's a very motivated runner. And she's a very intense runner.
An interesting development has been Durako's physical and mental maturity. The junior is beginning to understand how to run consistent races. On Saturday, she proved her focus with a terrific display of power and calm.
"She runs even better when people are challenging her," Romm said, "so it'll be interesting to see how others will challenge in the future."
Saint Basil Academy's Megan McGarrity finished in second, claiming a time of 20:11. Boiling Springs had two in the top five, finishing Meredith Speakman (3rd, 20:15) and Lily Brown (5th, 20:25) just 10 seconds apart.
And Conrad Weiser senior Emma Doughman secured fourth place, registering a time of 20:22.
For Doughman, the start of the 2011 campaign has been good to her, too. After battling through a knee injury in her sophomore season and running through anemia as a junior, she's finally healthy and ready to go.
"I had a couple of rough seasons, so I just wanted to race and see how I would do," Doughman said. "I feel a lot stronger this season. Finishing in fourth feels really good."
Ultimately, Douhman said, she's looking to break 20, which she's been close to doing twice now -- both at times at the beginning of the season, and in PennTrackXC meets.
On a team level, things got interesting. The top-heavy AA field was thrown a curveball when Quaker Valley stung an upset on Elk Lake and Holy Redeemer, coming up with a first place finish.
The Quakers finished with 95 points, just nine less than Saint Basil Academy, and used a 74 second spread to capture the crown. Senior Sarah McKendry led the Quakers, registering a time of 20:34. Quaker Valley's next four runners finished in the top 30.
That meant upset for Elk Lake, last year's state winner and current PA Small School #1. They finished fourth with 133 points, though were aided by a 1:31 spread. Freshman Jenny VanEtten crossed the finish line in 12th, though, with a 20:58.
Holy Redeemer was third with a point total of 108. It's second finisher, Rachel Sowinski, was sixth overall at 20:25.
Girls Gold Race (AAA)
By Cory Mull
HERSHEY -- If performances are everything in cross country, the Pennsbury girls' team effectively unveiled their most impressive outing of the season on Saturday at PIAA Foundation.
The Falcons were led by returning champion Sara Sargent, who once again came up clutch in a title-winning time of 19:07, her fourth best on the difficult and hilly Parkview Course.
In the last 200 meters, Sargent effectively took control, passing surprise performer Courtney Smith of Unionville.
"She ran exactly to the race plan," said Pennsbury head coach Don Little, whose team also won the team title. "We would have liked to have seen her hold all the way through, but the fact that she got challenged and kept fighting through is indicative of her character. We needed a race like this for her to get her moving toward the end of the season."
After a fourth place finish at PTXC3 and a fifth place finish at Briarwood, Sargent once again found footing as a pack leader. She led most of the way, charging out in front in the opening miles, but Smith, who converted from soccer this season, nudged beside her late in the race and almost snatched it away.
That's when Sargent made her final move -- and it didn't let her down.
"She came in freshman year with a running style and I wasn't going to change that," Little said. "It's what she knows best and it's what she does best. It's not always the most successful, but it's the most successful for her over the long haul. That's how she runs."
But Sargent wasn't the only story. PA#5 Pennsbury, which won the Briarwood Invitational last week, also came through in a big way. Senior Ann Herman constructed one of her best races, finishing in fifth place with a time of 19:43. The Falcons next two runners, Erica Gray and Elizabeth Wedekind then finished in 15th and 16th with freshman Erin O'Connell with 39 points to secure the win.
"The goal in the meet is to set up for the team win," said Little, whose top five secured a 2:22 compression. "And for the most part, seven out of the seven did the best they could. This is the hardest course we've run."
PA#3 State College was third behind Unionville, scoring 114 points and a 39 second spread. Behind Smith, Unionville racked up an impressive showing, totally 105 points.
Smith finished second overall, registering a 19:12. As a sophomore who converted from soccer, her times are continually improving.
From there, the stacked AAA, was littered with state medalists from a year ago. Pottsville Area's Paige Stoner, last year's state runner-up, was third in 19:34. Pennridge's Tori Gerlach was fourth in 19:34.
"I didn't want to go out too fast," Gerlach said. "You can't really recover from these hills. I went out slower and wasn't able to catch the pack."
Shippensburg's Reynah Spence, capitalizing off her improved physical condition and maturity, had one of her best races at the Hershey course. She finished in 19:39.
"The last 200 as a freshman and sophomore, I tanked both times and didn't finish the one time," Spence said. "I ran like five minutes off my PR the one time. Just finishing was good for me today. I think I've matured a lot as a runner."
Getting there was simple.
"It was the realization that I'm good enough to do that," Spence said.
Liberty's Amy Darlington, who finished in fifth at PTXC3, was sixth on Saturday with a clocking of 19:43. Dallas' Regan Rome, another returning medalist, was the last runner to nip below the 20 minute mark, securing a 19:49.
Boya Blue Race (AA)
By Cory Mull
HERSHEY -- Even without top senior L.J. Westwood, Quaker Valley was in a league of its own.
The Quakers, the top ranked small school in the state, were scary good on Saturday at the PIAA Foundation Varsity Blue boys' race, compiling a team title with 106 points, exactly 76 more than second-place North East (182).
Filling in for Westwood was a team that was incredibly consistent across the board.
Senior Nat Fox led the way with a seventh-place finish and secured a time of 17:19. Junior Roy Hadfield also broke the top 10 with a time of 17:31 while the Quakers next three harriers all finished among the top 37 placers.
North East didn't really challenge as a team, though junior Ryan Smathers, one of the top runners in AA, picked up a second-place finish with a time of 16:43. He was in contention late in the race until a surging last mile by Northeast Bradford's Sam Williams ended the discussion.
The win for Williams was surprising, considering the junior wasn't happy with his early season marks. He finished third at the Cliff Robbins Invitational in early September with a time of 17:17.
"I did not think it would come together, but when I came down the last hill, I usually like to push the last mile," he said. "I knew I would have a shot."
Williams turned on the elongated burners, finishing the last 200 meters with the kind of closing speed that only the good ones have.
"I can put on a long kick," Williams said. "It might not be the fastest one, but it's a long, efficient kick."
The strategy was a conserative approach, Williams said. He's the type to sit behind the pack and wait. When the time is right, he says, he'll take advantage of the opportunity and go.
"Sam is a really smart runner and he put a ton of miles in over the summer, so he can run like that," Northeaster Bradford head coach Mike Murphy said. "We've been doing some long-run strength stuff, nothing too quick. We wanted to see good competition and see how he would fare against the competition."
Williams ran one of his better races of the year, but he wasn't alone. Along with him and Smathers, Northeast Bradford's Curt Jewett also had a gem. He finished third in 16:51 while Elk Lake junior Luke Jones was fourth in 16:52. Saegertown junior Hunter Johnson was fifth in 17:12.
At the team level, Holy Redeemer finished third overall, accumulating 253 points with a remarkable 24 second spread. However, its first runner, Mitchel Ford, finished 36th overall, pulling the Royals back in the pack.
Mercyhurst Prep was fourth with a point total of 264 while Saegertown came in fifth with a total of 276.
Boys Gold Race (AAA)
HERSHEY -- Rankings are often compiled based on fact. But they're often projections of opinion.
So when PA#2 Cardinal O'Hara dispatched PA#1 Mount Lebanon in the large school PIAA Foundation boys' race on Saturday, it wasn't a huge surprise.
It was an interesting story, but not an otherwise odd development.
O'Hara was given a consistent performance from its pack, as its five scoring runners all finished in the top 20.
Junior Dan Savage (7th) led the way with a time of 17:00 while Chris Pastor (12th, 17:13), Kevin James (19th, 17:24), Mike Milotta (20th, 17:26) and Ernie Pitone (21st, 17:27)) brought up the rear.
This wasn't a blowout, either. Mount Lebanon put up a fight.
In fact, Cardinal O'Hara scored just six points less than Mount Lebanon, finishing with 79 points to Lebanon's 85.
Alex Moran (6th, 16:56) and Lawton Tellin (8th, 17:03) both finished in the top 10 for Lebanon, while Kevin Tramaglini (14th, 17:18), Scott Westover (28th, 17:43) and Seamus Roddy (29th, 17:46) rounded out the pack.
Individually, Hatboro Horsham senior Sam Hibbs took the race title, securing a clocking of 16:34. The Briarwood Invitational Division I winner's conservative approach paid off by the third mile, when others began to falter.
"I decided to go out with whoever was out in first for the first mile," Hibbs said. "And the last mile or so, try to kick it in and seperate the gap before the last hill."
Hibbs' teammate, Connor Quinn, was third in 16:41, while Upper Moreland's Drew Magaha, a gold medalist 1,600-meter runner in track, was fourth in 16:43. Magaha opened the race with a sub-5 first mile, but a previous injury forced him to readjust his strategy late.
Unfortunately, it cancelled his promising opening, which was a change in style from previous years.
"Last year at states, I didn't get a good start and ended up getting in trouble with some riff raff," said Magaha, who's PR came early this season at the John Sharp Viking Invitational, when he ran a 15:46. "At that point, once I got back up, it was another three miles. I made it a point to change my strategy to sitting and kicking to taking the lead."
Hibbs, whose personal best time is a 15:29, won the race on the hills. The senior saved his energy for the most important sections on the difficult course.
"I knew all the hills in the second mile are pretty much what make and break your race," Hibbs said, "so I knew I had to work those hills. I knew if I could make an advantage, hopefully no one would catch me."
Despite a minor cold and a little fatigue from a long bus ride to Hershey, Hibbs didn't falter late. It was his approach that ultimately did him well.
"Last mile, it's pretty much is all mental," Hibbs said. "You're always tired at that point. You have to say to yourself, 'I have to kick this in or else it's going to slip away.'"
NOTE: The replacement bridge that was washed out weeks ago, was replaced earlier this week, so the course is good to go.
MEET PREVIEW by Lex Mercado
The 5th edition of the PIAA Foundation Invitational will give teams and individuals the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the state course. After all the rain the area has received, the already difficult course may provide a new challenge that many may have not encountered before.
The Girls Blue race will be as close to a pre state meet that fans may see on Saturday. The race will have the top four ranked AA teams in the state going head to head for the first time since states. Defending AA champions Elk Lake is coming off a strong debut over the weekend at the Lackawanna County meet. They used a 1:17 spread to win by almost 40 points. The team already started the season with their entire roster back from last year's championship team. But last week, freshman Jenny Vanetten led the charge with a 3rd place finish. AA #2 squad Holy Redeemer is coming off a narrow 2nd place finish at the Cliff Robbins Invite back on opening weekend. Marissa Durako currently leads the squad. Quaker Valley finished 3rd at the Red, White and Blue Invite, only losing to Morgantown, WV and North Allegheny. Sarah McKendry will look for a strong performance to help her team. Saint Basil Academy finished 6th at PTXC 3 against some strong AAA competition. Megan McGarrity ran well in her debut and will pace her team.
The Gold race is setting up to be a head to head team battle between defending Foundation and AAA champions Pennsbury and district 6 champions State College. PA#2 Pennsbury finished 2nd to PA#1 West Chester Henderson at PTXC 3 and narrowly held on to win the championship race at Briarwood. PA#5 State College was 4th a year ago at states and have all seven back from that team. After an opening weekend win, they finished 3rd at the Spiked Shoe Invite over the weekend. Individually, the field is quality! Sara Sargent of Pennsbury won this race last year and she has two top ten finishes this year. Teammate Ann Herman has the same resume in 2011. Tori Gerlach of Pennridge is coming off a 2nd place finish at Briarwood. Regan Rome of Dallas has a top five finish from the opening weekend. Amy Darlington of Liberty has two top five finishes this year. Paige Stoner of Pottsville is the state runner up and has a 2nd place finish thus far this season. Reynah Spence of Shippensburg is coming off a win at the Bulldog Invite at Big Spring.
The boys Blue race will have four of the top five AA teams and will feature the first head to head matchup between the top returning individuals from last year's AA state race. PA#1 Small School Quaker Valley has looked impressive thus far after finishing 3rd at Red, White, and Blue behind top ranked Mount Lebanon and 3rd ranked North Allegheny. Holy Redeemer have a 3rd place finish from the Cliff Robbins Invite. Mercyhurst Prep started the season with a 4th place finish at McDowell and won last week at Conneaut Lake. Northeast Bradford was 4th at Cliff Robbins. The meet will also feature Ryan Smathers of North East and L.J. Westwood of Quaker Valley. The two are the top returners from last year. Westwood has run 15:50 this season while Smathers has run 16:11. The two are favorites to top the medal stand in November.
The Gold race will feature a head to head matchup between two top five teams. Top ranked Mount Lebanon has won all three invitationals they have run, including a win over North Allegheny at Red, White, and Blue. PA#2 Cardinal O'Hara won their first invite of the season in the Briarwood Championship race with an impressive 36 second spread. O'Hara won this race a year ago. Alex Moran (Mount Lebanon) and Dan Savage (O'Hara) will lead the way for their teams into this big matchup. Individuals joining them will be the eastern PA 1-2 combination of Sam Hibbs and Conner Quinn of Hatboro Horsham. The duo have two consecutive 1-2 finishes (Centaur and Division 1 Briarwood). Also in the mix will be Drew Magaha of Upper Moreland. After a strong debut race at John Sharp, Magaha will challenge for the gold medal against some of the favorites to win the state title in six weeks time.
Photo Gallery by Patty Morgan
Photo Gallery by Don Rich
Marissa Durako, Holy Redeemer - Girls Blue Race Champ
Sam Williams, Northeast Bradford, Boys Blue Race Champ
Sara Sargent, Pennsbury, Girls Gold Race Champ