Mars cross country teams aren't running on empty
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The future looks bright for the Mars boys and girls cross country teams.
The present is not too shabby, either. The Planets wrapped up an historic season on the girls side and had some success on the boys team as well.
Mars captured the WPIAL Class AA girls team championship Oct. 24. The team finished with 74 points to defeat Greensburg Salem (90) and Moon (99) for its first district title since 1976. The Planets' success may be a surprise to some, as the squad had no seniors and finished seventh at last year's WPIAL meet.
“We are very proud of them. They worked hard all year long,” Mars coach Dale Boring said. “I wasn't surprised they did so well. We were pretty confident going in that we could do what we did.”
Freshman Natalie Petrini helped lead the way for Mars. She finished eighth overall in 20:29. Juniors Sydney Cole (20:31) and Shannon McChesney (20:36) were right behind.
Sophomore Jessica Monberg placed 21st in 21:09, and freshman Lindsey Brand was 24th in 21:13. Freshman Emma Gentile was 36th in 21:45, and junior Reilly Butler was 37th in 21:48.
The weather (rain, flurries, cold temperatures) proved difficult for some at the championship meet, but not the Mars girls.
“We try to train our kids to be mentally strong in many different ways. We don't let them make excuses. We feel that the more adverse the conditions, the better our kids will be,” Boring said. “They actually wish for bad weather. They like the mud, that's for sure.”
The entire team advanced to last weekend's PIAA championship meet in Hershey. The Planets finished 12th, but were the top finishers among WPIAL squads.
McChesney was 27th at states for Mars in 20:41. Petrini (61st, 21:33), Gentile (71st, 21:45), Brand (75th, 21:51), Monberg (80th, 21:54), Cole (86th, 22:04) and Butler (90th, 22:10) all got to experience the unique atmosphere of the championship meet.
“As a team, we were about six places short of our goal. It's a tough meet. Most of our girls were there for the first time. When that gun goes off, you can get lost in the shuffle easily,” Boring said. “We have a lot of young kids and they are all coming back. That experience will definitely help for next year.”
Going through the championship meet process gives the team a sense for what it needs to accomplish.
“We hope to go run in an invitational next year on the exact course to prepare ourselves for it even more,” Boring said.
The Mars boys finished second at the WPIAL meet last year, but came in fourth this year. The Planets narrowly missed a third-place finish and berth in the PIAA meet. They had 120 points and Quaker Valley had 118. South Fayette won the team title with 74 points, and Uniontown was second at 93.
“It was a bittersweet day for the program,” Boring said. “We were elated for the girls, but the boys missed by two points.”
Sophomore Nathan Mrdjenovich led Mars with a seventh-place finish in 17:11. Seniors Gage Zimmerman (21st, 17:38), Frankie Petrini (25th, 17:48) and John Caraway (33rd, 17:57) were next. Junior Brendan Knox (34th, 18:05) and Jacob Porter (38th, 18:10) were close behind, and sophomore Evan Monteleone finished 80th in 19:21.
Mrdjenovich (33rd, 17:25), Zimmerman (43rd, 17:38) and Petrini (120th, 18:16) earned berths to compete at the PIAA meet.
The Mars boys graduate three seniors, but they hope younger runners can step up next year.
“We're not going to count ourselves out next year. We have a very talented boy (Connor Amsler) coming in from our junior high program. We'll see,” Boring said. “We have good kids at Mars. They have good self-esteem, and they are raised well. It's pretty easy to teach them how to be successful.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Angry fans cited in shortage of refs in Western Pennsylvania
- Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellant
- Ice jam wipes out McKeesport’s marina
- Miami’s 67-63 victory further damages Pitt’s NCAA Tourney hopes
- Supreme Court split on Obamacare subsidies
- Pirates notebook: Harrison’s day cut short by ankle injury
- Dermatologist led UPMC residency program
- Penguins notebook: Crosby says he would play goal if needed