Shaler's Schwartz sets course record, defends title at WPIAL championships
Her countless days of training, no matter the weather, have paid off.
Shaler junior Brianna Schwartz battled through near-freezing temperatures and ran the best race of her life Thursday to win the 2013 WPIAL Class AAA cross country championship for the second straight year at Cooper's Lake in Slippery Rock, setting a course record in the process.
“I think you just have to push through it no matter what the weather is,” Schwartz said, “and training every day kind of prepares you for that.”
Her time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds broke the previous record of 17:58 set by Latrobe's Natalie Bower in 2008.
“My goal time was definitely beating my own time from last year (18:32), and the course time was in sight, too,” Schwartz said. “I've definitely been building up to it. I haven't run too many races, so I knew it would definitely come. I just had to be patient.”
Although Schwartz was focused on improving her own time, setting the course record was an added bonus.
“I wasn't even sure of the record until last week,” she said. “So I just wanted to get a really good time, which I guess includes breaking the course record.”
The next challenge Schwartz will face is the PIAA championship meet Nov. 2 in Hershey, where she placed third last year. She likes her chances given her performance Thursday.
“Even though this course is still relatively new for the WPIAL course, it still means a lot to have the fastest time,” Schwartz said. “It gives me confidence going to the state meet.”
Fox Chapel seniors Colin and Ethan Martin stole the show in the Class AAA boys race. The twins finished first and second, with times of 16:04 and 16:20, respectively.
“My brother was able to push me the entire way, and I couldn't be more thankful for that,” Colin Martin said. “Going one-two was absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe that. Honestly, that's the greatest feeling ever.”
Last week, Ethan Martin finished three seconds ahead of his brother to win the Tri-State Track Coaches Association Championship, also held at Cooper's Lake.
In the other boys races, Eden Christian Academy senior Carter Smith won the Class A title in 16:46, and Uniontown senior Nate Edenfield won Class AA in 16:44.
Vincentian Academy freshman Marianna Abdalah was the Class A girls champion in 18:20, and West Allegheny junior Alexis O'Shea won the Class AA girls race in 19:12.
All six winners raced last Thursday at Coopers Lake and said the experience helped a lot.
“This past week, every night I visualized and I thought about that race,” Edenfield said. “My final thought before the gun went off was, ‘Just do it again, and you'll win this race.' ”
North Allegheny won its ninth consecutive Class AAA boys title with 38 points. Four of the Tigers' runners finished within the top seven positions. Avonworth won Class A with 124 points, and South Fayette dethroned six-time defending champion Quaker Valley in Class AA with 74 points.
The winning girls teams were Laurel in Class A with 83 points, Mars in Class AA with 74 points and Mt. Lebanon in Class AAA with 80 points.
The top three teams in each class advance to the PIAA meet. Also, the top 15 finishers in each race from non-qualifying teams move on to the state meet.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.