PIAA runners could battle mud at championships Saturday
By Paul Kogut| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
This Saturday's PIAA cross country championships could rival a political race when it comes to incessant mudslinging.
Because of heavy rains dumped by a massive storm, local state qualifiers are preparing for muddy, extra-challenging conditions on the 3.1-mile Parkview Course in Hershey.
Kiski Area junior Brent Kennedy, who cruised to the WPIAL Class AAA title on a warm, dry afternoon last week, believes this week's weather could play a significant role at the state finals.
Also, boys and girls cross country increased from two to three classes this year, so the number of championship races chewing up the ground has increased from four to six. And the AAA boys run last.
“The weather will definitely slow the race down, and I'm in the sixth race,” Kennedy said. “The course should be pretty messed up by then. But I'll come into the race with a positive attitude. It will create adversity for everyone.”
Last year's WPIAL finals were run in extremely soggy conditions, and Kennedy said times were slowed by a minute or more. On Saturday, he plans to wear longer spikes to provide better traction.
“We've always trained through weather like this to be prepared for muddy conditions,” Kiski Area coach Tom Berzonsky said. “You can't go out too hard in these conditions. If you're smart, you'll sit back a little at the beginning.”
Berzonsky said the PIAA's course is more difficult than the WPIAL site.
The middle of the Parkview course features a series of rises nicknamed the “Aloha Hills.” And the last stumbling block before the finish line is a hill that has been known to vex runners, who often get passed by others making their final kick.
Berzonsky said dips in the middle stretch could turn out to be muddiest part of the course.
The winner of the AAA boys race might come down to Kennedy and Fox Chapel junior Ethan Martin, who took WPIAL runner-up honors. Kennedy (15:39) beat Martin by 5 seconds last week.
“Ethan has a shot (at the state title),” Fox Chapel coach Tom Moul said. “He's been chasing (Kennedy) all year. Ethan's tenacious. He doesn't seem to be affected by pressure too much.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.