Franklin Regional's McMahon outruns field at Westmoreland cross country meet
It didn't take long for Franklin Regional sophomore Bria McMahon to establish herself as the runner to beat at last week's Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country championships.
McMahon raced out to an early lead in the opening seconds of the race and never looked back, winning the girls varsity race at the annual county meet with a time of 18 minutes, 56 seconds.
“It gives me a good feeling when I'm out running by myself,” McMahon said. “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.”
The first-year cross country runner, who played soccer last fall, continued her dominance in meets this fall. Her only race without a victory this season was the Red, White and Blue Invitational at Schenley Park in September, where she placed seventh.
McMahon's first-place finish was the major highlight among Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford at the WCCA meet. Kiski Area swept the boys and girls team titles, and Cavaliers runner Patrick Miller won the boys varsity race in 16:52.
The county meet was held at St. Vincent College this season after previously being held at Seton Hill.
“It's an honest course,” Penn-Trafford coach Paul Conrad said. “It's challenging. You can tell by the times (that) it's got to be a challenging course. (There's) a lot of grass, and you've got some nice challenging hills.”
Franklin Regional's boys team, coming off winning the section title earlier last week, finished second in the boys team standings at the meet. Senior Ian Griffith led the way, finishing fourth in 17:10. Trottier came in eighth in 17:32, Mark Provenzo took 16th in 17:59, Tim Mastovich placed 20th in 18:15 and Justin Naugle finished 21st in 18:15.
“I definitely need to push it, especially to get into states, (which is) my goal,” Trottier said. “But I feel like I'm on pace. I've definitely improved from last year. If I just keep it up, I'll definitely get there, I think.”
Norwin's boys finished right behind Franklin Regional in third place. The Knights and Panthers actually tied in overall points, but Franklin Regional was awarded second place because its sixth runner finished better than Norwin's.
Grant Folgate led the way for the Knights, placing ninth in 17:34. Three more Norwin boys runners finished in a pack behind Folgate. Sophomore Tyler Laughery finished 11th in 17:40, senior Clay Brough took 12th in 17:42 and junior Trey Quealy came in 13th in 17:44.
“Four guys within a very tight pack — that's awesome,” Folgate said. “That's what makes you a good cross country team, and that really helps motivate you. If you know your team's right there, you have to just push with your team and you're going to race a good time.”
Senior Charles Huss rounded out Norwin's top five boys runners, finishing 24th in 18:21.
Penn-Trafford finished eighth in the boys team standings. Warriors runner Jonah Graffius finished in sixth place in 17:22.
“The race felt really good today,” Graffius said. “I went out a little more conservatively than I usually would because I knew there was a flat beginning followed by hills in the second half of the course. I kind of stayed back in a more comfortable 15th (place) and began to work my way up as I felt better and better throughout the race.”
Brenton Sige was Penn-Trafford's No. 2 boys runner, finishing 32nd in 18:45. Austin Apelquist placed 40th in 19:11, Sean Lane came in 51st in 19:56 and Nelson Phelps finished 58th in 20:33.
Led by McMahon's first-place finish, the Franklin Regional girls team finished fifth in the team standings. Katja Kochvar finished 11th in 20:21, and Gracie Pekarcik placed 19th in 21:40. Haley Grajewski (37th place, 22:47) and Bianca Li (40th, 22:48) rounded out Franklin Regional's top five runners.
Norwin finished in fourth place among girls teams, led by freshman Kelley Giles' second-place finish in 19:24. Giles was followed by senior Becca Peters, who finished 12th in 20:21; senior Stephanie Hutchinson, who finished 18th in 21:28; junior Becca Rohac, who finished 22nd in 21:43; and junior Camryn Grudowski, who finished 26th in 21:48.
“(The course) was pretty easy besides the big hill near the end and in the middle,” Giles said.
Penn-Trafford took eighth place among varsity girls teams. Sarah Taylor led the way, finishing in sixth place in 19:55.
“I was definitely excited that I got under 20 (minutes) today,” Taylor said. “I'm shooting more towards states every meet, so I'm good.”
After Taylor, Penn-Trafford's top girls runner was Angelica Brennfleck, who finished 53rd in 24:34. Kelly Matoney and April Miller came in right behind her, finishing 54th and 55th with times of 24:42 and 24:54, respectively. Nicole Gaussa finished 57th in 25:26 to round out Penn-Trafford's top five runners.
Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford will compete at the Tri-State Championships on Thursday at Cooper's Lake in Slippery Rock. The meet will serve as preparation for next week's WPIAL Class AAA Championships, which will also be held at Cooper's Lake.
“(St. Vincent was) a challenging course, but it's also pretty comparable to Cooper's Lake, too,” Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “It may be a little hillier, too, with an extra hill. So it'll be a good training for that.”