Franklin Regional's McMahon, Norwin's Giles qualify for PIAA cross country meet
Two local cross country runners made a big impression in their first-ever appearances at the WPIAL Class AAA championships last week.
Franklin Regional sophomore Bria McMahon and Norwin freshman Kelley Giles each scored top-20 finishes at the meet last week at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, with McMahon finishing in 17th place in 19 minutes, 50 seconds, and Giles placing 18th in 19:54.
The finishes allowed the runners to qualify for the PIAA Class AAA championships, which will take place in Hershey on Saturday.
“(It was) OK. I think I could have done better,” Giles said. “(I was) just a little bit tired.”
“I was very tired during the race,” McMahon said. “The first hill I felt really good until the (3,000-meter mark). Then I started to get tired, but it was pretty good besides that.”
Giles and McMahon are in their first years running varsity cross country, but both had experience at the Cooper's Lake course. McMahon competed at the Tri-State Coaches Association championships at Cooper's Lake earlier this month, and Giles ran the course while in middle school.
“I thought it was easy because we ran this in middle school,” Giles said. “There was just 2 extra miles added on.”
Aside from Giles and McMahon, no other local runners qualified for the state meet. The top 15 individuals from non-qualifying teams also qualify for the PIAA championships.
For Norwin, the girls team finished in eighth place out of 29 teams at the WPIAL championships, and the boys took 19th place out of 34 teams.
“We were shooting for top 10 for both boys and girls, and the girls took eighth, so we were real happy with that,” Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “There were a couple girls who maybe could have had a little better shot getting to states and didn't make it. But overall, as far as the team goes, we were happy with the improvement and the fact that there were a lot of young runners on the team. Hopefully, it's something to build on for next year.”
Senior Becca Peters was Norwin's second-best girls runner, finishing 38th in 20:36. Junior Becca Rohac took 66th in 21:30, freshman Leah Vorce placed 80th in 21:47 and junior Camryn Grudowski and senior Stephanie Hutchinson finished in 99th and 100th place, respectively, in 22:00. Freshman Maria Josselyn (114th place, 22:15) rounded out Norwin's girls.
On the boys side, senior Clay Brough led the way with a 60th-place finish in 17:36. Sophomore Tyler Laughery finished 67th in 17:39, and senior Grant Folgate placed 93rd in 18:08. Junior Trey Quealy (127th place, 18:29), senior Charles Huss (148th, 18:54), junior Logan Dunn (160th, 19:00) and senior Andrew Bradley (180th, 19:32) rounded out the boys.
Franklin Regional, meanwhile, finished 16th among boys teams and 18th among girls teams at the meet.
“All in all, I thought they did well,” coach Jim Passarelli said. “With the conditions, we kind of got robbed of a taper for the kids, so they didn't really get to see what their top times would have been with (the Tri-State meet) being so muddy and WPIAls being so cold. But I thought they all ran well.”
Franklin Regional senior Ian Griffith finished seven spots shy of qualifying for states, coming in 35th in 17:17. Junior Brett Trottier took 68th place in 17:40, while senior Cole Seymour placed 97th with a personal-best time of 18:11. Junior James Capone (114th place, 18:23), junior Tim Mastovich (135th, 18:44), sophomore Justin Naugle (140th, 18:50) and freshman Mark Provenzo (174th, 19:23) rounded out Franklin Regional's boys.
After McMahon, sophomore Katja Kochvar was Franklin Regional's top girls runner, finishing 55th in 21:16. Sophomore Gracie Pekarcik took 91st in 21:53, senior Hayley Grajewski placed 140th in 22:58, junior Bianca Li finished 157th in 23:29, sophomore Emily Ahlstrom came in 167th in 23:44 and junior Amanda Gamwo took 179th in 24:28.
Penn-Trafford girls runner Sarah Taylor came close to qualifying for states, finishing 34th in 20:29 — 11 spots shy.
On the team side, Penn-Trafford's girls took 27th, and the boys finished 31st.
“I think we were all a little bit disappointed in our team placing,” Penn-Trafford boys coach Paul Conrad said. “But we had some issues to deal with. (Senior) Jonah Graffius hurt his foot about a week before the county meet (earlier this month), and he's been really limited with how much he's been able to run. ... And my normal No. 4 guy (Tyler McBride) has pneumonia, so we were a little down as far as who was running on the team.”
Graffius finished 104th in 18:15. Senior Brenton Sige took 190th in 19:47, senior Sean Lane placed 195th in 19:50 and junior Austin Apelquest finished 197th in 19:57. Senior Nelson Phelps (207th place, 20:13) and juniors Robert Specht (218th, 21:00) and Mike Catullo (219th, 21:07) rounded out Penn-Trafford's boys runners.
After Taylor, freshman Lindsay Johnston was Penn-Trafford's top girls runner, finishing 144th in 23:09. Junior Angelica Brennfleck-Derry took 155th in 23:26, senior Nicole Gaussa placed 181st in 24:30, junior Kelly Matoney finished 190th in 25:35 and sophomore April Miller and freshman Lizzie Temsick came in 191st and 192nd in 25:43 and 25:49, respectively.
The PIAA Class AAA girls race will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Giles and McMahon said they hadn't set specific goals for the meet.
“(I want to) just run as fast as I can,” McMahon said.