Kiski Area sweeps WCCA cross country championships
Kiski Area senior Brent Kennedy didn't get a chance to win his third consecutive Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country title Thursday.
But classmate Patrick Miller made sure the individual and team titles stayed at the school.
With an injured Kennedy rooting on his teammates, Miller and Brent Kennedy's freshman brother, Eric, finished one-two in helping Kiski claim another title, its third consecutive, at the meet held at St. Vincent College in Unity.
The Cavaliers finished with 52 points, followed by Franklin Regional and Norwin, both with 69. Franklin Regional was awarded second place because its sixth-place runner finished higher than Norwin's.
Kiski Area girls made it a sweep by winning their second straight title with 47 points. Hempfield was second with 70, followed by Greensburg Salem with 76 and Norwin with 77.
“Both teams ran well,” Kiski Area coach Tom Berzonsky said. “We had some adversity, and they responded. We were hoping some of the young runners would set up, and they did.”
Brent Kennedy, the defending WPIAL champion who has a scholarship offer from Virginia and serious interest from Notre Dame and Cornell, said he's probably out for the season with a shin injury. He's having an MRI next week to determine the extent of the injury.
“I haven't competed since the Red, White and Blue Invitational back on Sept. 7,” Kennedy said. “I'm really proud that the guys stepped up. It would have been nice to compete in the county championship because it's a lot of fun.”
Kiski Area senior J.D. Fehnestock also is out for the season with an injury.
Miller, who said Brent Kennedy taught him a lot, ran a 16:52.4 and Eric Kennedy was next in 16:59.4, edging Southmoreland sophomore Ben Bickerton (17:02.6).
“Brent is very smart and knows what he's doing,” Miller said. “He offers good advice. I knew what I had to do. Winning the county title is meaningful and special. It was disappointing that Brent couldn't run; he probably would have won. But I'm glad I kept it in the school.”
Eric Kennedy said he has also learned a lot from his brother. He was looking forward to competing with him.
“I ask a lot of questions,” Eric Kennedy said. “He's taught me what to eat and how I should prepare for a race. He's the best teacher I have.”
Southmoreland hasn't run in the meet since the mid-1990s, so Bickerton was excited his coach, Don Gilpin, decided to enter the team.
“I'm pretty happy,” Bickerton said. “I gave up soccer to run, and I love running. This race gives me an indication where I stand in the WPIAL. It's a good tune-up for the races in a couple weeks. I missed going to states by a place in 2012.”
Franklin Regional sophomore Bria McMahon, a first-year cross country runner, won the girls title in 18:56.6. She ran the 3,200 for the track team as a freshman.
“My friends told me that cross country was fun, so I gave up soccer,” McMahon said. “I love running. It gives me a good feeling when I'm out running by myself.It makes me nervous when I'm around people, so I try to push from the start and get everyone else out of breath. I like setting the pace.”
Norwin freshman Kelley Giles finished second at 19:24.5, Hempfield junior Morgan Ansell was third at 19:45.6, and Kiski Area sophomore Megan Aller and senior Morgan Kiebler were fourth and fifth.