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Bishop Canevin girls cross country expecting big things

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Caroline DeFrank finished second at the WPIAL Class A cross country championship race last season.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Junior Bailey Burgess is part if the experienced Bishop Canevin girls cross country team that finished in fourth at the 2012 WPIAL Class A championship, one spot from qualifying for states.

Returning all the top runners from a squad that finished fourth at the WPIAL Class A cross country race last season has the Bishop Canevin girls team facing some high expectations.

How high?

“They have a shot of winning the WPIAL title,” coach Eric Shafer said. “We have our top four returning from last year. I am very happy with the talent we have coming back.”

Caroline DeFrank leads the way after finishing second at the WPIAL race last season with a time of 20:33 and 18th at the PIAA race with a time of 20:31.

The taste of success has DeFrank looking to accomplish big things her last time out with Bishop Canevin.

“I have trained harder this summer than I ever have,” DeFrank said. “I have put more mileage on and have not taken many days off. I want to improve and do better than I did at WPIALs and states.”

DeFrank will be joined by juniors Bailey Burgess and Mary Olivia Philbin. Those two had strong performances at the WPIAL race — Burgess finished in 19th with a time of 22:15, and Philbin came in 21st with a time of 22:20 — and will look to improve on those times. Sophomore Leah Narkevic had solid freshman season, finishing 33rd with a time of 23:03.

The four are not strangers to success as they made the PIAA Class AA track and field championships in the 3,200-meter relay.

“We have seen the success they can have in track,” Shafer said. “They just missed going to states, so they didn't want to be denied another opportunity. I think they can carry it over to the fall, especially (Narkevic). She was a late addition to cross country, and I think she realized how good she can be.”

The team said finishing in fourth place at WPIALs last season has been the motivation to work harder this offseason. Each classification sends its top three finishers to the PIAA race, and the Crusaders missed by a matter of seconds.

“Not making states has been motivation for us,” Burgess said. “That was extremely tough. We have been running more this summer than any summer before. We have some promising freshmen coming in. It's really exciting.”

If the team gets its way, it will be making the trip as a group.

“It is like a second chance knowing we are all back,” Philbin said. “It is our mission to go to states together. We are all really close, so it would be an awesome experience.”

The boys squad will look to improve on its 23rd-place finish at the WPIAL Class A championship last season. Sophomore Ryan Clarke finished 74th to lead the squad at the race with a time of 20:20.

“(Senior) Kelly Burgess is one of the guys who has been working hard this past spring and summer” Shafer said. “During track season he ran the one-mile race and improved his race time over two minutes of what it was last year.”

The Crusaders will get the season under way Sept. 7 at the Red, White and Blue Invite at Schenley Park. The race starts at 8:30 a.m.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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