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Greensburg Salem cross country teams enjoying friendly competition

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 10:39 p.m.

A few additions to the Greensburg Salem cross country team has resulted in a friendly rivalry, with an emphasis on friendly.

“Sometimes there's more laughing than running (at practices),” senior Laura Rosner said.

But for Rosner and the rest of her teammates, this season is no joke. Rosner, who finished 12th in the WPIAL in Class AA last season, has already shaved 10 seconds off her best run when she ran 19 minutes, 25 seconds, good for sixth place in the B division, at the Red, White and Blue Invitational at Schenley Park on Sept. 7.

In addition to Rosner, the Golden Lions added newcomers Gina Mattei and Mackenzie Tressler this year.

Mattei never ran cross country, but was on the track team last season, and Tressler is a transfer from Hempfield. Freshmen Rachel Rossi and Riley Kwiatkowski have stepped in and made an immediate impact as well.

Rosner and Rossi proved they are a nice one-two punch for the Golden Lions at the Red, White and Blue Invitational when they each finished in the top 10. Rosner was sixth and Kwiatkowski placed ninth (22:20). Overall, the girls team boasts an 8-3 record this season, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the Red, White and Blue.

The boys, also competing in the B division, finished 15th and have an overall record of 5-6 so far. Junior Nick Rossi, with a team-best time of 17:58, is the No. 1 runner. He's followed by Zach Zydonick (18:38), Logan Miller (18:50), and Brett Smith (19:07). The boys are also in a state of transition after losing five runners from last season.

“The kids have trained all summer long with conditioning,” coach Nathan Snider said. “We hope they keep getting better and keep progressing.”

The runners keep each other in top shape by competing against each other in practice. There is a sibling rivalry as well: Nick and Rachel Rossi are brother and sister.

“We are really close, we're all really good friends, but we don't want to get beat by the others,” Rosner said. “We go hard in practice.”

Rosner has already reaped the benefits of those friendly competitions.

“This year my times have been faster,” she said. “I'm glad the hard work is paying off.”

Rosner is shooting for a top 10 finish in the WPIAL this season, and top 50 in the state. Snider said his girls team has a chance of making it to states, while the boys hope to finish in the top 10 in the WPIAL.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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