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Eden Christian senior runner finishes in top 10 at states

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Having won the school's first WPIAL title of any kind, Eden Christian senior Carter Smith was optimistic about becoming the school's first state champion in any sport at the PIAA Class A boys cross country meet last weekend in Hershey.

But Smith fell short of his goal, finishing ninth in 16 minutes, 53 seconds, nearly a minute behind first-place finisher Griffin Molino of South Williamsport.

“You always approach a race thinking you're going to win,” Smith said. “As the race wore on, I thought I'd be in the top 10 (but wouldn't win).”

Smith was happy to have improved over last year, when he placed 21st.

“Carter ran a solid race,” coach Kelly Walburn said.

Smith again withstood a strong challenge from South Side Beaver junior Colten Trimble.

Trimble, the WPIAL runner-up, finished 10th in 16:58.

Eleven seconds separated the two at the WPIAL championship, which Smith won in 16:46.

Smith was one of two Eden Christian runners to compete at the PIAA championship.

Sophomore Lauren Gronbeck surprised herself by finishing seventh in the girls race (19:48).

“I was shooting for a top-25 finish,” said Gronbeck, who was fifth in the WPIAL. “I was nervous at the (starting) line but ran my own race and did well.”

Gronbeck said a large cheering section that included many teammates helped.

Smith and Gronbeck agreed they inspired each other.

“I hope I can live up to Carter's legacy,” Gronbeck said.

Walburn, in her first year as coach, considers Smith rare.

“Not only does he have God-given talent, he's very disciplined and works hard,” Walburn said.

Eden Christian athletic director Steve Good also is impressed by Smith's dedication.

“We are extremely excited to have our first WPIAL champion in just our third year as a member of the WPIAL,” Good said. “Carter has worked very hard for this accomplishment.

“We could not be any happier with how he has represented our school.”

Smith, who is receiving Division I interest, plans to run in college.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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