ShareThis Page

Plum cross country teams fare well at Grove City Invite

Michael Love
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
Plum junior Alan Yocca nears the finish line at the Gateway Invitational on Sept. 1, 2012. Lou Raggiunti | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum Advance Leader
Plum junior Alan Yocca nears the finish line at the Gateway Invitational on Sept. 1, 2012. Lou Raggiunti | For The Plum Advance Leader

The Plum varsity boys cross country team finished behind only host Grove City at last Saturday's Grove City Invitational, and head coach Joe Ionta said he was pleased with the group's solid performance.

“Grove City probably is one of the top AA boys cross country teams in the state,” Ionta said.

“They are big time. They finished third at the Red, White and Blue Invitational last month. It was a great challenge for our boys. We knew what we were up against.”

Junior Eddie Amori placed seventh overall (17:08), while freshman Jacob Susalla (10th, 17:20), senior Luke Jennings (11th, 17:23), junior Alan Yocca (12th, 17:40), senior Adam Molinaro (13th, 17:40), junior Andy Marzullo (17:53) and sophomore Tyler Mower (44th, 19:20) rounded out the boys scorers in the varsity race.

“All of the boys (achieved personal records),” Ionta said.

“It would've been nice to come away with a win, but we had to be realistic. We asked them to transfer their practice workouts to the meet, and they did that.”

The Mustangs boys ran at Grove City only a couple of days after a strong performance at the Section 4-AAA championship meet at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park Oval.

Plum finished 5-3, and lost to section champion Fox Chapel (27-28), Kiski Area (27-29) and Pittsburgh Central Catholic (27-29) by a combined five points.

“Even though we were 5-3 at the section championship meet, we came within 15 seconds — we're talking one place here and there — of winning the section title,” Ionta said.

“We really made a statement there and surprised a lot of people. That was a positive thing for the boys. They've worked hard all year. We has almost as good of a week as you can have.”

The Plum girls finished third at the Grove City Invitational behind West Seneca West (N.Y.) and host Grove City.

Seniors Gina Valotta (21:22) and Courtney Liberatore (21:26) finished 12th and 13th, respectively, to lead the Mustangs girls, while freshman Ana Benitez was 19th (21:43).

Rounding out the top seven for Plum were senior Jordan Rupp (29th, 22:13), junior Chrissy Joyce (36th, 22:35), senior Mia Pietropola (42nd, 23:04) and junior Carly Izydore (55th, 23:55).

Benitez competed in a varsity race for the first time this season. For the first couple of weeks, she battled back from an injury.

She ran the JV race at the section championship meet last week and placed first overall.

“They came out of Grove City with a little bit more confidence than when they went in,” Ionta said.

“West Seneca West is a very good team from New York, and Grove City also is a strong team. All of the girls also PR'd, and some PR'd by an entire minute from what they've done this year.”

Ionta said running on the Grove City course will help them prepare for the upcoming Tri-State Track Coaches Association and WPIAL championships.

Both meets are at the Cooper's Lake Campground course near Slippery Rock University.

“Grove City is probably closer to Slippery Rock's course than any other course we run on all season,” Ionta said.

“The courses around here are a little more hilly and challenging.”

Plum will honor its seniors on Monday before a dual meet against Penn-Trafford on the Mustangs' home course at Boyce Park. The meet is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.