Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy runners aim for WPIAL titles
The Quaker Valley boys and girls cross country teams expect to be serious title contenders at the WPIAL Class AA championship meet Thursday at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock.
And in Class A, the Sewickley Academy boys team will be after its third consecutive WPIAL crown.
Quaker Valley coach Dave Noyes said, if in top form, the Quakers girls likely will win for the third straight year and sixth time in seven seasons.
Senior Anna Pawloski, junior Lucie Kubinski, junior Audrey Durbin, freshman Annie Wicker, senior Bearett Tarris and juniors Allison Lenhardt and Julia Weicht will compete.
Pawloski claimed first place in the girls 5,000-meter run at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship Oct. 13 at Brush Creek Park in Beaver County, leading the Quakers to an easy win. Eighteen teams competed.
“MACs is a fun invitational,” said Pawloski, 18, of Sewickley. “We went in expecting to win.”
Noyes believes the Quakers have the potential to capture the state title as well.
Top finishers at the WPIAL championship will qualify for the PIAA meet Nov. 5 at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey.
The Quakers placed fifth a year ago.
Tarris, 17, of Sewickley said this might be the best squad she has been on during her high school career.
“I have never felt more confidence in my teammates,” she said. “We have continued with our difficult training schedule to prepare ourselves.”
Senior and two-time defending WPIAL champion Zach Skolnekovich leads the boys squad, which is seeking its first WPIAL title since 2012 and seventh since 2007.
Skolnekovich won the boys race at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship and paced the Quakers to victory.
Senior Jake Smiley, freshman Daniel Ford, senior Zeke Gonzales, senior Ryan Torbic, junior Ryan Weicht and junior Henry Guild are other starters.
“We have the talent to contend,” said Skolnekovich, 17, of Sewickley. “I'm confident in the training we have done over the past few months.”
Senior and defending PIAA champion Griffin Mackey heads the Sewickley Academy boys team, the PIAA runner-up a year ago.
Seniors Tim Hanlon and Leo Harper and juniors Austin Duffield, Jared Washington, Sam Casale and Michael Bartholic form the rest of the lineup.
“We had a lot of turnover and have had to deal with a number of injuries, so this will be the first (time) all of the top seven run together,” Panthers coach Derek Chimner said. “I'm excited to see where it leads.”
Seniors Ally Oh and Tali Juliano and sophomores Nella Tsudis and Amber Huang and freshmen Rebecca Vassilenko and Sarah Brown are the six members of the Panthers girls team.
Chimner, who also mentors the girls, said they will be happy with personal bests.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.