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QV boys cross country plagued by injuries

Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley High School junior Rob Veltre poses on the track at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale in January 2012. Veltre is a member of the school's cross country team.

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By Karen Kadilak
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

With two of its top three runners injured, the Quaker Valley boys cross country team expects to have a tough time repeating as WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion.

“Going into the season, we knew we didn't have enough depth,” coach Dave Noyes said. “We knew there would be problems if anyone got hurt.” Approaching the WPIAL championship, where they are five-time defending champions, the Quakers are 4-2 in WPIAL Section 2, their losses coming at the hands of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Vincentian.

Quaker Valley was 13th at the PIAA Foundation Invitational at the Hershey Parkview Golf Course last month. The meet is considered a preview of the PIAA championship, which will be held Nov. 3 at Parkview.

At the Red, White and Blue Classic at the Schenley Oval last month, the Quakers slipped to seventh placed overall after finishing third a year ago.

Juniors Rob Veltre (foot) and Luke Kropf (calf muscle) have been nursing injuries. Veltre, the Quakers' No. 1 runner, expects to be back soon. The status of Kropf, who has been running third, is uncertain, Noyes said.

Moving up to replace them have been seniors Roy Hadfield and Josh Szymanski and sophomore Xavier Lang.

Hadfield is defending WPIAL individual champion.

“If Rob and Luke come back and are healthy, we will be OK,” Noyes said. “If they don't come back, or come back and still aren't fully recovered, then we'll have trouble finishing in the top three at WPIALs and qualifying for states — let alone winning there again.”

Quaker Valley was the first WPIAL boys cross country team to win a PIAA Class AA title since 1976.

Unbeaten in dual meets, the Quaker Valley girls team (6-0) is optimistic about winning its fourth straight WPIAL Class AA title.

“Ours girls are in better shape than the boys,” said Noyes, who coaches both teams. “They have more depth.”

Senior Rachel Skolnekovich is a solid lead runner for the Quakers.

Junior Ashley McKendry, the No. 2 runner, is out indefinitely with a foot injury. But replacements are plentiful in seniors Abby Rausch, Lauren Ferris and Lea Giotto, as well as freshman Hannah Bablak and junior Mary Grace Beson, who returned after being injured.

“Our goals are to win WPIALs and do better at states,” said sophomore Caroline Westwood, who also has competed.

The girls team placed third at the PIAA championship last season.

Defending champions, the Quakers placed ninth at this year's PIAA Foundation Invitational.

At the Red, White and Blue Classic, they dropped to 14th after placing third a year ago.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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