Mt. Lebanon, Fox Chapel runners win Red, White & Blue Invitational
Mt. Lebanon sophomore Kelsey Potts thought Shaler's Brianna Schwartz was going to run in Saturday's Red, White & Blue Invitational, even though Schwartz, the defending champion and course record holder, skipped the event to rest.
Perhaps Potts looked in a mirror, as she turned in a performance that looked a lot like something Schwartz would do.
With Schwartz working her way back from a minor knee injury suffered over the summer, Potts smashed Schwartz's Schenley Park course record by completing the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 49 seconds.
Schwartz ran 18:07 last year.
“I was trying to beat that time,” Potts said. “I thought (Schwartz) was going to be here, but she wasn't.
“I kind of like racing against Schwartz because she makes me go very fast. But now that I know I can run that time without her, that means I can push myself even harder.”
That's a scary thought for opposing teams, but one that brings a smile to the face of Blue Devils coach Ron Schreiner. Not only is Potts the perfect blend of young, talented and coachable, but she's also bought into the team concept that Schreiner preaches.
“Kelsey is an incredible little girl,” Schreiner said. “She's made so much progress. Nothing means more to her than her team.”
Both of Potts' parents were runners. Her father, George, was a member of the cross country team at Duquesne University, and her mother, Mary, was a former hurdler.
Schreiner said Potts, who started running competitively in seventh grade, broke every middle school course record Mt. Lebanon has, yet she experienced growing pains as a freshman.
Despite not placing in this meet last year, Potts took second to help Mt. Lebanon to the WPIAL Class AAA team title last fall and has entrenched herself as one of Schwartz's top challengers.
“Kelsey still has some room to grow,” Schreiner said of Potts, who credited an improved diet for her better times. “She's going to get stronger. She had a great day (Saturday). She's thrilled, but she rarely shows it; she's humble.”
Potts' time was two seconds faster than Vincentian's Marianne Abdalah, who beat Potts by nearly 90 seconds in an unscored scrimmage at Hartwood Acres on Aug. 21, Schreiner said.
“We had a dual meet against them with a really long hill, and I actually won that dual meet,” Abdalah said. “But I knew (Potts) would be up there because she's really good at track. I knew that it would all come down to the last mile.”
Madeleine Davison from North Allegheny finished third in 17:55.
Jillian Hunsberger, Audrey Gordon, Claire Dougherty and Callie Gunzenhauser were Mt. Lebanon's top five finishers, Hunsberger taking fifth in 18:13 and Gordon ninth in 18:59.
“We think we can be there at the end,” Schreiner said. “We know North Allegheny, Shaler and Hempfield, they have incredible girls everywhere. (Saturday) was very important for us to come out and see who were are.”
Twin gets revenge in boys race
Fox Chapel's Colin Martin topped his twin brother, Ethan, for the first time to win the boys race, with last year's champion, Kiski Area's Brent Kennedy, finishing second.
Colin Martin ran a personal-best time of 15:18, two seconds shy of the course record, and had a comfortable, seven-second advantage over Kennedy. Ethan Martin was third in 15:35.
“It's absolutely unbelievable,” Colin Martin said. “First win against my brother — ever. First time I've ever beaten him. I'm on top of the world right now. I can't even explain it.”
For Kennedy, the time was two seconds faster than the 15:27 he put up last year, but there was no hanging with Colin Martin, who pulled away around the 1.5-mile mark.
“Colin had a great race,” Kennedy said. “A huge, breakout race for him. I'm really happy for him. He deserves it. He works hard. He chased his brother for a while. For him to get the win, he definitely deserves it.”
North Allegheny was the most dominant team — boys or girls. The Tigers took fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, as well as 11th and 16th, finishing with 30 points.
Mt. Lebanon was second with 155 points.
For North Allegheny, Matt McGoey was fourth in 15:45; Cordon Louco was fifth in 15:49; Seamus Love followed at 15:57; Scott Seel was seventh in 15:58; and Hunter Wharrey took eighth in 16:05.
“I was definitely pleased with how we did,” North Allegheny John Neff said. “It's early on in the season, so to be able to run that well is great.”