Quaker Valley boys cross country settles for 3rd at WPIAL meet
For the first time since 2006, the Quaker Valley boys cross country team didn't strike gold at Cooper's Lake.
The six-time defending champions were dethroned by South Fayette last week at the WPIAL Class AA championship race in Slippery Rock. The Quakers (118 points) did qualify for states as they finished in third behind the Lions (74) and Uniontown (93).
“We weren't going to stop,” senior Rob Veltre said. “We were going to make states and we were sure as heck not going to stop on my watch.”
Quaker Valley was led by freshman Zach Skolnekovich, who finished second with a time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds. The freshmen has quickly become one of the Quakers' top runners.
“I have grown a lot from eighth grade,” Skolnekovich said. “The training is much better. My legs have gotten stronger. I personally have gotten stronger. I think states will be a good experience to run that race and see all that competition.”
Senior Luke Kropf finished in eighth with a time of 17:12. Other finishers for the Quakers included Veltre in 27th (17:48), junior Charlie Kristo in 31st (17:56), sophomore Fletcher Hubsch in 50th (18:34), junior Alex Comerci in 57th (18:41) and junior Mattias Cooper in 69th (19:05).
One of the biggest question marks will be if Xavier Lang will be able to compete at the PIAA meet Saturday. The junior has been battling an injury and has been one of the top contributors to the team.
“It did effect us (for the WPIAL race),” Veltre said. “He is a dedicated runner. We need him.”
The girls team, meanwhile, missed states as a team for the first time since 1997. The Quakers did have two individuals qualify for the meet, as sophomore Hannah Bablak finished in fifth (20:10) and senior Ashley McKendry finished 12th (20:38).
The duo said making the trip to Hershey together will benefit both because they workout together.
“I am a little disappointed,” McKendry said. “I wanted top 10 but I will take 12th. I am glad I get to go out with Hannah. I always say Hannah gets me to run fast, and I get Hannah to run.”
Both runners have experienced the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey and know the challenges the course offers.
“You have to started fast,” Bablak said. “The first mile you have to be in position. The next two miles is really hilly. And the last 800 meters is a really steep hill before you get to the finish line. It is a lot different than the WPIAL course.”
Other finishers for the girls team included senior Mary Grace Beson in 23rd (21:13), freshman Bearett Tarris in 38th (21:48), freshman Anna Pawloski in 58th (22:34), junior Caroline Westwood in 72nd (22:59) and senior Molly Wicker in 75th (23:11).