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Quaker Valley cross country members finish strong

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Quaker Valley coach David Noyes said the PIAA championship course — Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey — may be the toughest setting for a race in Pennsylvania.

“I cannot imagine a more difficult course in the state,” Noyes said. “There are so many hills — long hills, steep hills. It is very difficult to prepare for.”

But despite the challenge, several Quaker Valley cross country runners finished their seasons strong at the event.

The boys squad took sixth in the Class AA team standings. The Quakers were led by freshman Zach Skolnekovich, who had a time of 16 minutes, 54 seconds to medal in 12th place.

“He just did a terrific job,” Noyes said. “Out of all the classifications, he was the top freshman finisher. He got himself in position and slowly moved his way up.”

He was followed by seniors and team captains Luke Kropf in 29th (17:19) and Rob Veltre in 64th (17:43).

“They were tremendous leaders for this team,” Noyes said. “They would get the team together on Sundays and go out on their own runs. They really got this team working.”

Other finishers for Quaker Valley included junior Charlie Kristo in 92nd (17:57), junior Xavier Lang in 139th (18:29), sophomore Fletcher Hubsch in 140th (18:29) and junior Alex Comerci in 173rd (18:49).

Lang ran the race after missing the WPIAL championships due to a lower body injury. Noyes is convinced the end result of the season would've been different if the junior was healthy.

“They had set their goals on a state title at the beginning of the season,” Noyes said. “Looking back, if (Lang) didn't get hurt, I think we could have challenged for the title.”

In the girls Class AA race, Quaker Valley sophomore Hannah Bablak finished 32nd with a time of 20:14. It was the underclassman's second trek to Hershey, and the learning experience should prove fruitful in future seasons.

“She became more dedicated, training-wise, in the offseason and over the summer this year,” Noyes said. “Her goal was to finish in the top 25. She came close and was up there, but she faded over the last half-mile. I expect her to be in the top 15 and medal over the next two years.”

Senior Ashley McKendry also made it to Hershey and finished 79th with a time of 21:00.

“Being a captain is a thankless job,” Noyes said. “I expect them to pull the team together and lead the other runners. And she did it. She has been a pleasure to work with and was always so upbeat and personable. I look forward to working with her in track.”

Sewickley Academy freshman Griffin Mackey finished 29th with a time of 17:24 in the Class A championship race.

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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