St. Vincent men's cross country team nabs PAC title
The St. Vincent men's cross country team has figured out how to peak at the right time of the year.
The Bearcats claimed their fourth consecutive Presidents' Athletic Conference championship by taking first Nov. 2 at Chatham University. St. Vincent finished with a team score of 30, and Grove City (59) and Waynesburg (93) finished out the top three.
“Obviously, it was a big goal for our team. We ran the best that we could run,” coach Dr. Andy Herr said. “We didn't just back into the victory. We had very good performances from the whole team. We pretty much ran our best race this season.”
Dr. Herr wouldn't say the team was struggling prior to the PAC championship but wanted to make sure it would continue to progress.
“One of the things that is different from cross country than any other sport is the way the training works. Your hope is the team runs faster as the season goes,” Herr said. “It's not like football or basketball, where you hope to be physically where you are throughout the year.”
“We just try to time things better. This was our best team effort, and we are starting to come around as we are coming up to regionals.”
The Bearcats also took the individual title in the PAC championship with senior Chansler Poole, a Penn-Trafford alum, claiming the title with a time of 25 minutes, 15.60 seconds. Poole finished 23 seconds faster than second-place finisher Arleigh McRae from Grove City.
“I was obviously excited for the win,” Pool said. “It was something I was working for all year. I was running a crazy amount of miles, like 60 to 70 miles a week during the offseason, and to think about it all paying off is gratifying.”
Besides Poole, an All-American in track, the Bearcats had four runners finish in the top 10 of the PAC championship. Senior Andrew Razanauskas (fourth), junior Eric Porter (seventh), sophomore Sawyer Palonder (eighth) and sophomore Vincent Tonzo (10th) were key contributors the team's fourth PAC title.
The Bearcats, ranked eighth in the region, will now focus on trying to finish in the top five of the NCAA regional meet this Saturday at Lehigh University after finishing in a disappointing 16th last season.
“It will be very difficult to make it as a team. The most that can advance from each region is five teams. We are currently eighth in the region.” Herr said. “The team will have to run the race of their lives. If I were betting, it would be bit of a risky bet. The guys are in the right frame of mind.”
Even with the idea of possibly qualifying individually for nationals, Poole still is keeping a larger goal in mind.
“As an individual, I'm expecting myself to do well. But keeping the team mindset, having the team go would be awesome, especially as a senior with it being my last season to go,” Poole said. “I got to focus on what I can do and let the chips fall where they may.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.