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Gateway cross country squads get feet wet at annual invitational

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | The Times Express
Gateway sophomore Liam Connolly placed 12th in the varsity boys race at the 25th annual Gateway Invitational on Aug. 31, 2013, at Boyce Park in Plum.
Michael Love | The Times Express
Sophomore Katie Heasley placed 47th in the varsity girls race at the Gateway Invitational on Aug. 31, 2013.

Thirteen boys and girls varsity cross country teams greeted the 2013 season Saturday at the 25th running of the Gateway Invitational at Boyce Park in Plum.

Gateway head coach Tom LaBuff said that despite the humidity and sultry temperatures in the low 80s, a strong field, both in terms of teams and individual runners, contributed to a good day for the 25th annual event.

“The sun stayed behind the clouds, and there was a light breeze to make things bearable,” LaBuff said.

“The kids got their first real competition of the 2013 season.”

The Gateway girls squad finished 10th overall and had a pair of runners lead the pack with back-to-back finishes. Sophomore Maria Reynolds came in 38th with a time of 24:26, while senior Tamisha Williams was one second behind her at 24:27.

Last year, the Gateway duo also finished back-to-back, as Reynolds took 37th, and Williams placed 38th.

Reynolds and Williams were in a pack of seven runners who finished within three seconds of each other.

Senior Tameka Williams was right behind that pack, and she placed 41st (24:30).

Sophomore Katie Heasley (47th, 24:44) and junior Ricki Kapp (68th, 27:01) rounded out the five scoring runners for the varsity.

Freshman Laura Trozzo paced the Gateway JV girls with a 24th-place finish in a time of 27:19.

On the Gateway boys side, only three runners — sophomores Liam Connolly, Trey Kubic and Jose Figueroa — entered the varsity race.

Gateway was the only team to not field a full varsity squad.

Connolly finished 12th and earned a medal in a time of 18:46. Last year, in his first ever varsity race, Connolly ran the same Boyce Park course in 19:00 and finished 23rd.

Kubic took 35th (19:47), while Figueroa came in 48th (20:31).

Figueroa was 70th last year in a time of 20:57, while Kubic took 77th at the 2012 invitational (21:31), a jump of 42 spots and 1:34 worth of time.

Gators' freshman Jackson Perry placed 11th in the boys JV race (20:40).

Fox Chapel twin seniors Ethan and Colin Martin led wire to wire for a 1-2 finish in the boys varsity race, with Plum sophomore Jake Susalla two seconds behind (17:27).

The Martin twins' finishes helped the Foxes to the team title over defending champion Baldwin.

In the girls varsity race, Norwin regained the Gateway Invite title, beating runner-up Hempfield by 13 points.

Individually, West Allegheny's Alexis O'Shea and Bria McMahon battled for the top spot the entire race.

McMahon, a sophomore who played soccer last fall, won out in the end. Both McMahon and O'Shea went off course with seventh-tenths of a mile left and almost gave away their big lead.

Gateway was scheduled to run against Altoona and Latrobe in a home nonsection tri-meet at Boyce Park on Wednesday.

The meet was to be run past the deadline for this week's edition.

Up next for the Gators is the big Red, White and Blue Invitational on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.

More than 40 teams and some of the region's top runners again will battle for top honors and bragging rights at one of the season's biggest events.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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