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Gateway gearing up for big championship cross country meet

| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

It's one race for all the marbles in Section 4-AAA.

Gateway and eight other boys and girls cross country teams are putting the final touches on preparations for this Tuesday's section championship meet at the Schenley Park Oval.

Instead of a series of dual meets or tri-meets over a month's time, everyone will gather to test their mettle in one shot.

The coaches in Section 4 got together and devised the one-championship-meet format. A better training schedule for the runners (less meets) and saving the districts money on transportation, Gateway head coach Tom LaBuff said, were the main reasons for the move.

There will be two varsity and two JV races, and everything starts at 4 p.m.

Each boys and girls team will be permitted a maximum of 10 runners, and each varsity race is expected to have about 80 entries. When the races finish, each team will have a one-on-one score tabulated against each of the other eight teams, and a section champ will be determined.

Gateway's preparation for this Tuesday's meet included a trip to the 22nd Uniontown Invitational last Saturday on a course at Penn State-Fayette's campus.

The Gateway boys finished fifth out of 25 teams, as senior Tyler Palenchak led the Gators with an individual sixth place finish.

Freshman Liam Connelly was 16th, followed by seniors Jordan Landfair (24th) and Ben Farina (27th) and freshman Jose Figueroa (45th).

“Our boys ran especially well — our best performance of the year,” LaBuff said. “Tyler wasn't 100 percent, having been sick most of the week, but he had a very good performance.”

The Gators girls squad placed eighth, despite missing top runner — freshman Katie Heasley — who was out with an ankle injury.

Junior medalist Tameka Williams led Gateway with a 16th-place finish, follow-ed by junior Tamisha Will- iams (29th), sophomore Ricki Kapp (32nd) and freshman Maria Reynolds (43rd).

“The girls would easily have finished in the top four with Katie in the mix,” LaBuff said. “Tameka ran a good race and Ricki had her best race of the year. Tamisha went out way too fast and paid for it, though she managed to hold on and finish well.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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