Bishop Canevin girls cross country ready for WPIAL championships
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A little bad luck might have been what kept the Bishop Canevin girls cross country team from a Section 5-AA title.
The Lady Crusaders had the injury bug hit the team midway through the season, when the Lady Crusaders were set to battle South Fayette in a dual meet. With only four runners, it couldn't field a full team against the Lady Lions and Steel Valley, picking up its lone two losses in section competition.
“There was a good chance we could have won that meet,” Bishop Canevin cross country coach Eric Shafer said. “Instead, we finished tied for second with Ellis School.”
The Lady Crusaders finished section competition at 6-2. South Fayette won the section with an 8-0 record.
While the team fell short of claiming the section crown, it will set its sights on the WPIAL Class A title.
The championship race is scheduled for today, Thursday, at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock.
Bishop Canevin's chances of winning the title or qualifying for the PIAA championships by finishing in the top three will improve this season.
The championship races will increase from the two run into the past — Class AAA and AA — to three with the addition of a Class A race, which Bishop Canevin will run in.
The Lady Crusaders previously had to run against some of the elite program in cross country in the Class AA race. Programs such as Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Freeport and Beaver will run the AA race, while smaller programs will participate in the Class A competition.
While the Lady Crusaders will face smaller schools, that doesn't mean there will be less competition. Shafer said there as many as six other teams with a strong chance of fighting for a top-three finish.
“Laurel is considered to be one of the top programs in the state,” Shafer said. “Shenango has a pretty strong team. And the other Catholic schools — OLSH and Vincentian Academy — will be up there. We were able to beat them at the Catholic Invitational by a small margin.”
Shafer added that Riverview and Ellis School are sneaking into the discussion as dark horses.
While it will be a battle to make it into the top three, Bishop Canevin has a youthful batch of runners looking to finish the season strong.
Caroline Defrank leads the squad as the most experienced runner. The junior has been a constant force on the squad since joining as a freshman and has finished in 31st the past two WPIAL championships, barely missing out on qualifying for the PIAA event.
“I think she has realized how good she can be,” Shafer said. “She has really stepped up her intensity in practices. She seems to be peaking at the right time.”
The Lady Crusaders have a talented group of sophomore runners who have been improving steadily. Bailey Burgess, Mary Olivia Philbin, Mary Frances Philbin and Maggie Aiello are athletes Shafer said performed well as freshmen and have continued their growth this season.
Burgess had a strong performance at last year's Class AA championships, finishing in 33rd. Mary Olivia Philbin finished 45th.
“They are all really good friends, so I think it helps them push each other,” Shafer said. “They have worked really hard to improve themselves. And not only has it made them better individually but made the group better.”
Leah Narkevic may be the surprise of the season. The freshman joined the team in early September, and Shafer said she has improved rapidly despite the late start.
“She always is working to get better,” Shafer said. “She is one of Canevin's many multi-sport athletes and is on the junior-varsity volleyball team. So, sometimes, she can't make due to away games, but she will run on her own.”
In preparation for the WPIAL championships, Bishop Canevin participated in the Freedom Invitational last week, finishing third.
Defrank led the way with a second-place finish in 20 minutes, 48 second. Mary Olivia Philbin took ninth in 22:34, and Burgess came in 11th in 23:03.
Other Bishop Canevin finishers included Narkevic in 17th (23:34), Mary Frances Philbin in 37th (26:59) and Maggie Aiello in 45th (28:15).
With the strong performance at the Freedom Invitational, Shafer said he likes how his squad is performing. He thinks his squad may have what it takes to get a top-three finish at Cooper's Lake.
“I think the team knows what is at stake and is ready to lay it on the line,” Shafer said. “They have improved from the first couple of meets and invited to now. They seem to get better overtime they compete. I think were ready to give our best performance.
“And a little luck always helps.”
The Lady Crusaders will participate in the first race of the day at 12:30 p.m. at the WPIAL Championships.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-388-5813.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
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 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.
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
- McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
- Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation