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Plum cross country set for Tri-State

| Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

The championship season for cross country takes a big step forward Thursday, as teams big and small from all over western Pennsylvania descend on Cooper's Lake Campground outside of Slippery Rock for the Tri-State Coaches Association Championships.

The WPIAL teams, including Plum, are expected to get a good feel for the Cooper's Lake course, with the WPIAL championships there on Oct. 25.

“We want to get them comfortable with the course,” Plum head coach Joe Ionta said.

Eight boys and eight girls runners from Plum will compete at Tri-States, with Mustangs JV runners concentrating on preparation for the WPIAL JV championships Monday at Schenley Park.

The Tri-State boys race will be at 4 p.m., and the girls race will be at 4:30.

As many as 65 to 70 teams are ex- pected to take part in the meet, with up to 10 runners from each team permitted to compete.

Included in that group should be many of the top Class AAA teams Plum will run against at WPIALs, and, Ionta said, his teams will get another good look at the competition outside of Section 4.

It won't be as crowded next week for the WPIAL championships. For the first time, the WPIAL will break up the boys and girls fields into three classifications — AAA, AA and A — for the championships.

Ionta said he hopes his runners can feed off the positive energy generated by several good showings at recent competitions, from the Section 4 championship meet to the Grove City Invitational and Monday's senior-day sweep of Penn-Trafford.

The Plum boys won, 15-44, while the girls upended Penn-Trafford, 23-39, in the meet held on Plum's home course at Boyce Park.

Seniors Luke Jennings, Adam Molinaro, Elbert Millender, Gina Valotta, Jordan Rupp, Mia Pietropola, Courtney Liberatore and Emily Sebunia were honored for their efforts this season and for the past several seasons.

“It was a great win for both teams and a nice sendoff for the seniors,” Ionta said. “It was positive, except for the weather.”

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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