Gateway freshmen run to top finishes at Red, White and Blue
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Gateway cross country head coach Tom LaBuff touted his boys and girls freshman runners before the start of the season and said they could make waves in competition.
Running with some top freshmen from Class AAA and AA schools in the WPIAL and throughout western Pennsylvania, the Gators freshmen fared well at the Red, White & Blue Invitational on Saturday at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.
“It confirmed my thoughts that they would do well this season,” LaBuff said.
“They just needed that confidence. Given that opportunity to run up front, it really helped them.”
The freshmen race was one of five contested in cooler conditions than the runners had experienced through several weeks of preseason workouts and the first week of the season.
LaBuff said that a light drizzle was all the runners experienced in both the freshmen and varsity races.
“It was good conditions for the runners,” LaBuff said. “Footing wasn't an issue.”
Liam Connelly outdistanced the other 104 runners in the freshman boys race, as he finished in a winning time of 17:25.
“Liam really responded,” LaBuff said.
“He ran great. He hit the final oval with a yard or two lead and then really opened it up.”
LaBuff said a seventh-place finish was good for the continued rise in confidence of freshman Jose Figueroa (18:46) and that Tres Kubic ran a good race while finishing 26th in a time of 19:40.
Katie Heasley placed second out of 69 runners in the freshman girls race.
She ran a time of 21:16, as Eden Christian Academy's Lauren Gronbeck won with a time of 20:59.
“Katie is really showing herself to be a good big-meet runner,” LaBuff said.
“She responded in this race just as she did in the Gateway Invite. I wasn't sure if she even realized where she was place-wise until she hit the final oval. She was aggressive, got out well and finished strong.”
LaBuff said he also was impressed with Maria Reynolds, who finished fourth with a time of 21:46.
Two Gateway boys — seniors Tyler Palenchak and Ben Farina — competed in the varsity boys ‘A' race.
Palenchak finished 53rd with a time of 17:25, while Farina was 77th (17:46).
“Both Tyler and Ben were very disappointed,” LaBuff said.
“They didn't run as well as they know they can. They were in there against (261 other) runners, and once it narrows down, you're stuck unless you get out well.
“But it was only once race. You put it behind you and move on. I'm sure they will both bounce back.”
In the girls ‘A' varsity race, junior Tameka Williams led Gateway with a 78th-place finish in a time of 21:23, while twin sister Tamisha came in 102nd with a time of 21:55.
“The twins got out well, but they just didn't hold it together,” LaBuff said.
“That just comes down to confidence. It's another learning experience for them. They ran faster than they did last year. We can build off that.”
Sophomore Ricki Kapp's final race in 2011 was the Red, White & Blue Invitational. A leg stress fracture ended her season after the race.
Kapp placed 179th (23:46) on Saturday.
“Ricki ran a little slower than she did last year, but we are cautious with her this year and are making sure she gets through the season healthy,” LaBuff said.
“She's getting better with each race.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Robert Morris women rally to reach NEC semifinals
- SUV flips onto its side on Parkway East
- Author Colum McCann to be guest at art and lecture series
- Penguins minor league report: Defenseman Dumoulin optimistic for home stretch