Former champs take crown again in Westmoreland County cross country
Local runners couldn't keep a pair of former champions from finishing first again.
Kiski Area's Brent Kennedy defended his title in the boys race, and Latrobe's Hanna Green made it two wins in three years in the girls race at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Cross Country Championships at Seton Hill University last Thursday.
Kennedy won with a time of 17 minutes, 6.8 seconds, which was far slower than his winning time of a year ago. Construction around the campus altered the course from its previous route and made the path feature longer uphill runs and more all-around difficulty.
Behind Kennedy were Hempfield's Jon Faye (17:28.7), Franklin Regional's Luke Schott (17:35.4) and Norwin's Brandan Moretton (17:40.1) to round out the top four.
In the girls race, Green won in 20:05.7, and she was followed by Franklin Regional's Kaitlyn Figurelli (20:21.6), Hempfield's Morgan Ansell (20:40.3) and Norwin's Abby Pristas (20:43.6).
“I was joking with the other kids during the walkthrough that this was the biggest hill in Pennsylvania,” Schott said. “Basically, the hill starts at mile (marker) one and ends past mile (marker) two. The whole second mile and then some is uphill, so it's very challenging.”
Schott's high finish helped pace a Franklin Regional boys team that place four runners in the top 16 and finished second in the team standings behind Kiski Area. Norwin finished just behind Latrobe in fourth place, while Penn-Trafford was seventh in the final boys standings.
“I was expecting that it would be Brent Kennedy up front, and I would battle Jon Faye for second,” Schott said. “He ended up finishing about 10 seconds in front of me, so it wasn't my best race, but I'm satisfied with third.”
Rounding out FR's boys team were Ian Griffith in 12th (18:42.2), Ben Myers in 15th (18:47.7), Brett Trottier in 16th (18:48.6), Mo Sajjad in 23rd (19:15.7), Tim Mastovich in 30th (19:46.2) and James Capone in 36th (20:01.6).
“Our team hoped to come out and upset Kiski, but with Rob (Ashman), our second runner this year, being out, we weren't able to,” Schott said. “Still, the team has been running well. We were section champs, 9-0, and it's good to run against competition like this so that all of our guys know where they need to be for WPIALs.”
Moretton was the only Norwin boy among the leaders, but the remaining Knights all put together solid, midpack finishes to push the team into the top four.
Norwin's Tyler Laughery was 20th (19:08.2), Trey Quealy was 21st (19:08.8), Charles Huss was 34th (19:55.0), Clay Brough was 35th (19:57.1), Brendon Wagner was 42nd (20:18.7), and Logan Dunn was 44th (20:32.1).
“I was happy with my finish. I was just trying to stay with the top two Kiski kids for as long as I could, and at the two mile, try to pass them and see what happens,” Moretton said. “It worked out well.
“We've had some trouble this season with everybody putting together a good race, but I think today, we had a solid one. I was happy with our finish.”
For Penn-Trafford's boys, Jonah Graffius led the way in 11th (18:40.6), and Daniel Kolonay was 18th (18:54.2). Behind them were Brenton Sige in 37th (20:01.9), Sean Lane in 39th (20:04.6), Austin Apelquist (21:16.1), Nelson Phelps (22:15.4) and Tyler McBride (22:19.6).
The Star-area schools were shut out of the top three in the girls team standings, where Kiski Area took a narrow first-place finish over Hempfield.
Franklin Regional was fourth behind Latrobe, while Norwin was fifth, and Penn-Trafford was sixth.
The Warriors did hold the distinction of being the only team other than champion Kiski Area to have two runners with single-digit finishes toward the team score. Sarah Taylor was seventh in 21:28.8 for P-T, and Chelsia Poole was right behind her in eighth with a time of 21:34.6.
“The finish was a little shaky, but coming off the uphill is really crucial to the race, and I was happy with how I did on that,” Taylor said.
“Compared to last year, I gained a lot this year. Chelsia and I have been pushing each other so hard this year. It's been great to race with her, and it's going to be really hard next year not having her to push me.”
Rounding out the Warriors' finishers were Delaney Cooper in 47th (25:28.2), Kelly Matoney in 48th (25:39.4), Nicole Loeleger in 49th (25:42.8), Niki Patterson in 54th (26:15.1) and Erin Ramsey in 55th (26:18.4).
At the front of the pack, Figurelli had her sights set on making a run at Green. In the end, she was content with her second-place finish and ready to set her sights on WPIALs.
“I wish I could've run a little harder and got first, but Hanna Green destroyed me out there today,” Figurelli said. “I'm excited for WPIALs. Cooper's Lake is my one of my favorite courses, and I just hope it's muddy and raining because I do so well running in rain.”
Following Figurelli for FR were Danielle Vensel in 10th (21:50.9), Katja Kochvar in 23rd (23:00.6), Allison Holcombe in 26th (23:13.9), Hayley Grajewski in 35th (23:45.9), Amanda Gamwo in 40th (24:38.2) and Rachel Caretta in 41st (24:53.2).
“I'm happy that Danielle did really good; she's been booking it this year. Everybody else improved this year, too. Our team's just been solid,” Figurelli said.
Behind Pristas for the Norwin girls were Cameryn Grudowski in 24th (23:02.3), Lacey Aley in 25th (23:08.2), Hannah Rusinko in 29th (23:25.3), Rebecca Rohac in 32nd (23:33.9), Julia Rosso in 38th (23:57.4) and Rebecca Peters in 42nd (25:00.3).
In the junior varsity race, Norwin won the boys team title, led by the first-place finish of Andrew Bradley (19:40.8). Penn-Trafford's Julia Wimer was the top girl finisher — boys and girls ran in one combined JV race — with a time of 22:45.4.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.