Hempfield's Ansell, Fiaschetti advance to PIAA cross country meet-->
The third time running the Cooper's Lake Campground course wasn't exactly the charm for the Hempfield girls cross country team Thursday at the WPIAL Class AAA team championships. But it wasn't too bad, either.
The Spartans finished in seventh place out of 28 teams in the WPIAL‘s largest classification, led by sophomore Morgan Ansell, who finished 19th overall in 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Senior Maddie Fiaschetti finished 25th (20:42). Both runners qualified for the individual PIAA championships, set for Saturday in Hershey.
“Overall, I was pretty pleased with the girls performance,” Hempfield coach Ron Colland said. “Morgan (Ansell) and Maddie (Fiaschetti), I felt they ran really good races. It was great to see them both qualify. They both had consistent seasons, and I knew they were capable of running good races (at WPIALs)”
Hempfield had one of the younger teams in the race. Four of its seven entries were underclassmen. While Fiaschetti will graduate this year, Ansell and a host of returning underclassmen should give Colland a strong team next fall.
“We're losing a couple good seniors,” he said. “But we have a strong junior varsity team and a few promising runners coming up from junior high. Morgan (Ansell) will keep developing through hard work. She's only a sophomore, and I have high expectations for her.”
The Hempfield boys team finished 18th overall. Senior Jon Faye led the Spartans with a 17th-place finish (16:52) of out 231 Class AAA runners and qualified for states. Kiski Area junior Brent Kennedy won the race with a time of 15:59.
One unexpected element for all runners was the rare 80 degree temperature for a late October race. More than 10 runners were sent to local hospitals for heat exhaustion. The past few WPIAL championship races were run in cold, wet conditions.
“(The heat) definitely played a role,” Colland said. “It made it tough. I don't think a lot of runners were hydrated enough. On the other hand, it made the course run a lot faster.”
In Class AA, Greensburg Salem had a strong overall performance. The boys team, led by senior Zach Klueber's 28th-place finish (18:11) took 10th place, while the girls recorded an 11th-place finish. Junior Laura Rosner (21:08) and senior Shaina Contic (22:39) were the top two finishers for the Lions. Rosner placed 12th overall and Contic was 44th. Rosner advanced to the PIAA championship meet.
Greensburg Central Catholic's teams ran in the newly formed Class A race. The PIAA changed the format to include three classifications. The top three teams in each class advanced to the PIAA finals Saturday in Hershey. In addition, the top 15 non-team qualifying individuals advanced.
The Centurions boys team finished in 14th place. Sophomore Vince Minigliano led GCC with a 42nd-place overall finish (18:54). The girls team placed 19th overall and was led by freshman Michelle Kalabin, who finished 62nd (24:30).
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.