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Connellsville runners hope summer miles translate to success

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Jason Black | Daily Courier
Joe Baughman and Sarah Fiano are seniors on this year's Connellsville cross country team.

Pat Mullaney is in his third season as coach of the Connellsville cross country program. Mullaney will be assisted by Kris Oswald and Joe Siecinski (volunteer coach).

The Falcons will run their home meets on the hill behind the Connellsville Junior High.

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Members of the Connellsville boys and girls cross country program hope that the miles they ran in the summer can be converted into wins in the fall.

“We ran through the rain and hot weather,” senior runner Joe Baughman said. “We're hoping to win the section.”

Baughman is one of three returning lettermen who helped the boys team finish with a 5-3 record in 2012. Sophomores Nicholas Jacobyansky and Devin Pisarski are also letterwinners who dot the opening roster of 10 runners.

While there is a bit of experience on the boys team, a lot of experience was lost to graduation, including Matt Cramer, Matt Ream and Trevor Farrell.

“We have a lot of new faces,” Connellsville cross country coach Pat Mullaney said. “But they've put in a lot of hard work. They've been working all summer long.”

Mullaney reported that the runners would meet with each other and run about six days a week. Mullaney believes that the offseason dedication will pay dividends.

“It's tough to say right now,” Mullaney said. “We'll take it one meet at a time, and I think we'll surprise some people at the end of the year.”

The Connellsville girls team took a step forward last year and will look to do so again. For three straight seasons, the girls squad could not field enough runners to record a team score.

That changed last year, and Connellsville managed to post a long-awaited victory.

“We got a win last year, and we're going to build on that,” Mullaney said. “We're trying to build toward .500.”

With an early-season roster of 11 runners, Mullaney believes the future is bright for the girls team.

“I've been surprised with the number of girls that we've had run all summer,” Mullaney said. “They've really been working hard.”

The biggest loss is Darian Leighty, who has graduated. The girls team will feature two returning letterwinners — senior Rachel Miller and junior Margaux Klingensmith. Both were part of last year's 1-7 team but helped get the girls program back on the right track.

Connellsville will compete in Section 2-AAA and will open the season Sept. 3 at home with an exhibition meet against Southmoreland. Connellsville's section opponents will include Fayette County rivals Albert Gallatin, Uniontown and Laurel Highlands. Elizabeth Forward, McKeesport, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin round out the section.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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