No sophomore slump for Knoch duo
Quietly, Knoch sophomore Brandon Grumski is one of the more goal-oriented cross country runners in Butler County, maybe beyond.
Therefore, his much-improved finish at the WPIAL Class AA cross country championships on Oct. 24 came with little surprise.
Grumski surely didn't act surprised after the race at wind-chilled Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock.
Grumski came in fifth a year after finishing 19th as a wide-eyed freshman.
“I thought I could be in the top five,” said Grumski, whose time in this year's race 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.”
Grumski's finish earned him a spot in the PIAA championships on Saturday in Hershey.
“Brandon has raw talent and is just starting to learn how to compete at the next level,” Knoch coach Wess Brahler said.
“And what it takes to earn individual medals and to be in contention for those opportunities in the big races.”
Another Knoch 10th-grader, Mandi Moxie, also was determined to improve during her second trip to the WPIAL meet.
She finished ninth (20:30), a year after missing state-qualifying by one spot.
“I really fought hard for this,” Moxie said.
“I have been training for five months, six days a week. Ever since last year, I have been thinking about states.”
Brahler said Moxie has, well, moxie.
“She has heart,” the coach said. “What I mean is she competes and wants to push her limits when she races, and she has a strong support system with her family. I am not surprised that she medaled and qualified for the PIAA championships. This has been an individual goal of hers since last year's meet.”
Knoch's other state-meet contingent included juniors Ashlyn Carlsson (20:54, 18th) and Preston Carlsson (17:26, 13th).
Knoch's boys finished fifth and the girls were sixth in the team standings.
The top three advanced to the state meet.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.