Eden Christian runner improves in 2nd trip to PIAA meet
Eden Christian Academy junior Carter Smith did not find much difference between the runners he faced at the PIAA Class A boys cross country championship this month at Hershey and those he competed against at the Class AA championship a year ago.
This was the first season for Class A. In previous years, boys and girls competed in Class AA or AAA.
“I was so focused on what I was doing, I really didn't pay attention to anyone else,” he said. “In (Class) AAA there would be a difference because the runners are (much) faster.”
Smith finished 21st in 17 minutes, 7 seconds, bettering the mark of 17:16 he posted in placing 28th at the Class AA championship last year.
“It wasn't my best time, but I was happy with it,” he said. “I was familiar with the course from having run on it last year; I would have been disappointed if I hadn't improved.”
Smith had a season-best time of 16:57 at the Red, White and Blue Classic invitational meet in September at Schenley Park.
Smith qualified for the PIAA championship after placing eighth individually and seventh in team scoring at the WPIAL championship last month at Slippery Rock.
Led by Smith, Eden, in only its second year in the WPIAL, finished 15th at the WPIAL championship.
“We really improved over the season,” he said.
“The team has gotten better right along with Carter,” coach Brandon Molisani said.
Smith was touched when senior Luke Otto traveled to Hershey to watch him compete at the PIAA championship.
“Luke was really helpful,” Smith said. “He helped me stretch and ran with me before the race.
“I really appreciated that support.”
“I felt sorry for Carter,” said Otto, a senior. “Last year, only his coach and family went with him.”
Smith, 17, of Cranberry, began running with his father when he was 9 or 10.
“I had fun and found that I was good at it,” he said. “I thought it was such (part of) a healthy lifestyle.”
He enjoys the contemplative nature of running.
“It's a good way to think,” he said. “I'll concentrate on my form or how I'm helping my team; I'm always strategizing.”
“Carter is very smart,” Molisani said.
Smith finished 16th at the WPIAL Class AA championship a year ago.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.