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Bishop Canevin girls cross country headed to Hershey

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mike Love | for the Signal Item
Becca Volz led the Bishop Canevin girls cross country team with a 15th-place finish in the WPIAL Class A race.
Mike Love | for the Signal Item

The motivation for the Bishop Canevin girls cross country team heading into the WPIAL Class A championship race was simple – do it for Caroline.

Caroline DeFrank is the team's lone senior. While the rest of the Crusaders will return next season, they knew the had one last shot to make it to Hershey as a team.

“It was the last year we could make it to states together,” junior Mary Olivia Philbin said. “We had to do it for Caroline.”

The group came through and will get a taste of Hershey and the PIAA race – the first time as a team ­– after it finished second at the WPIAL championships last week.

DeFrank – who is no stranger to the PIAA race after qualifying for it last season – finished 16th overall with a time of 21:19. But the surprise of the race was freshman Becca Volz, who led the team with a 15th-place finish and time of 21:14.

“I told her before the race today she would be great and she was,” coach Eric Shafer said. “She really stepped up her performance today. It was her best race of the season.”

Volz wasn't the only underclassman with a big race. Sophomore Leah Narkevic finished in 18th with a time of 21:29 while freshman Sarah Green finished in 59th (23:39) and freshman Annie Philbin finished in 67th (24:07).

“They all really stepped up this season,” junior Bailey Burgess said. “We knew (Volz) would be good at the beginning of the season but not this good.”

Other finishers for the Crusaders included Mary Olivia Philbin in 29th with a time of 21:54 and Burgess in 44th with a time of 22:46.

The biggest problems the group had to face were all mental. The final portion of the race was an 800-meter straight stretch where all the runners increase their speeds while spectators cheer them on.

“Everyone tries to pick it up,” Narkevic said. “There is a lot of excitement at the end.”

Bishop Canevin said while they are looking forward to the PIAA race, making the trip to central Pennsylvania will be a bonding experience as they described the team as a family.

“The trip is more than going and competing,” Shafer said. “The team is so close and really good friends. They are thrilled to go out there together.”

And for Shafer, it is a reward for the hours he has put in with the squad.

“It means a lot,” Shafer said. “I don't teach in the school so it is a challenge at times to get off of work. Once this season, we had a deadline at work and they called me and I had to leave a meet before it started. It can be a struggle but I love what I do.

“I have the greatest group of girls you can ask for.”

The boys team, meanwhile, finished in 20th. Senior Marty Scanlon led the team with a time of 19:38 to finish 73rd.

Other finishers for the boys squad included senior Nick Rajakovich in 102nd (20:29), senior Kelly Burgess in 104th (20:39), sophomore Kelly Rush in 120th (21:30), sophomore Sean Finn in 122nd (21:31), senior Justin Gottheld in 123rd (21:33) and freshman Ryan Tarasi in 159th (24:15).

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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