Fox Chapel's Martin brothers wage battle for cross country title
SLIPPERY ROCK — The Brothers Martin finally have a WPIAL gold medal in cross country. And the winning twin knows exactly where the medallion is going.
“Oh, definitely in my room,” said Colin Martin, who edged his brother and Fox Chapel teammate, Ethan, to win the Class AAA title Thursday. “We used to have bunk beds until my sister moved out. Now we have our own rooms, and I'll find a nice place for (the gold medal).”
The seniors — Michigan running recruits — were bumping elbows until the final 200 meters at frigid, wind-swept Cooper's Lake Campground. At about the point of the notorious castle that runners pass down the stretch, Colin pulled ahead and crossed the finish line in 16:04.
Ethan, who wasn't able to catch the leader despite a strong final kick, finished in 16:20.
“Having the chance to run here last week was a huge plus,” said Colin, who took third behind his first-place brother at the Tri-State Coaches meet. The win is his second against Ethan; the other was at the Red, White and Blue Invitational. “(Ethan) is my eternal training buddy. We were both thinking about the final kick. We have been 1-2 so many times. We knew we wouldn't finish together. Ethan has a way better kick. He kind of had a leg up on me this season, but I guess I'm catching up.”
Fox Chapel finished second in the team standings to advance to the PIAA championships Nov. 2 in Hershey. The top three teams and top 15 individual finishers not on those teams also qualified in each classification.
Of the 17 Alle-Kiski area runners who qualified for the state meet, seven are sophomores. That means the second time around at the WPIAL finals came with more experience and fewer nerves.
Knoch sophomore Brandon Grumski wasn't surprised by his fifth-place finish in the Class AA race. He was 19th as a freshman.
“I thought I could be in the top five,” said Grumski, whose time was 17:04. “I fixed myself in (among) some of the other guys so I knew where I was. I was actually more nervous this year than last because I expected to do better.”
Riverview sophomore Molly Kennedy was a 10th-place finisher last fall but improved four spots to sixth.
“I knew if I stayed behind some of the girls, like Maddy (Schmiedeknecht) of Winchester Thurston and (Lauren Gronbeck of Eden Christian), I would be OK,”
Kiski Area sophomore Megan Aller finished seventh in Class AAA in 19:30. Another 10th grader, Knoch's Mandi Moxie, finished ninth (20:30), a year after missing state-qualifying by one spot.
Also in Class AAA, Fox Chapel sophomore Mary Humphrey took 14th (19:45). Aller's teammate, junior Lauren Smeltzer, was 19th (19:57).
Local Class AA qualifiers were Freeport seniors Hayley Davis (20:43) and Becca Dudek (21:07), Knoch junior Ashlyn Carlsson (20:54) and Highlands freshman Kyla Kelley (21:09).
Other Class AAA boys qualifiers included senior Patrick Miller (16:49) and freshman Eric Kennedy (17:06) of Kiski Area, and Plum sophomore Jake Susalla (16:56). In Class AA, Knoch junior Preston Carlsson advanced (17:26).
Knoch's boys (AA) and Kiski Area's girls (AAA) finished fourth, a spot away from the state meet.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.