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Quaker Valley girls cross country team looks toward WPIAL meet

| Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, 6:06 p.m.

The Quaker Valley girls cross country team is focusing on the WPIAL Class AA championship meet next week after dominating at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship at Brush Creek County Park in North Sewickley, Beaver County, a week ago.

The Quakers, the defending WPIAL champions, beat each of the 16 teams they faced, scoring a total 34 points, nearly 100 ahead of second-place Beaver (130).

Sophomore Lucie Kubinski led team and individual scorers in a time of 20 minutes, 21 seconds in the varsity girls 5,000-meter run.

Sophomore Audrey Durbin (20:52), junior Bearett Tarris (20:59), junior Anna Pawloski (21:34), senior Hannah Bablak (21:36), junior Isabella Brown (22:58) and freshman Natalie Weicht (23:19) also competed.

Pawloski (11th place) and Bablak (13th) were in the top 15 among the 122 individuals who finished.

“It was a pretty impressive win (that will motivate) us to work hard at WPIALs,” said Kubinski, 15, of Sewickley.

Quaker Valley coach Dave Noyes said the girls did well despite being tired.

“(They) didn't taper down (in practice and) pressed through that,” Noyes said.

Noyes said the team probably will not be fully rested until the state championship meet Nov. 7.

Tarris, 16, of Sewickley expects the Quakers to improve.

“Our strategy is always to go out and race as a pack,” Tarris said. “At each race, we try to cut down on the spread between our first and fifth runner.

“I think (the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship) provided the opportunity for our team to see our strengths and weaknesses. At WPIALs, we hope to be an even tighter pack.”

Tarris said she relies on Durbin to guide her.

“My goal is always trying to finish with Audrey,” Tarris said. “Her racing ability has been really helpful to the team.”

Noyes said the boys team, which he also coaches, will have to do better than it did at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship for Quaker Valley to sweep WPIAL boys and girls crowns for the second time in four seasons.

The Quakers (74 points) placed second to Mars (68).

Noyes said the 45-second gap between the Quakers' second runner, junior Jake Smiley (18:07), and their fifth, junior Ryan Torbic (18:52), was too wide.

Junior Zach Skolnekovich, who finished second to Beaver Falls standout Dominic Peretta in 16:24, was ahead of the pack, which included senior Thomas Musial (18:37), senior Bobby Guild (18:52), freshman Colton Bates (19:29) and sophomore Ryan Weicht (20:05).

Skolnekovich, 16, of Sewickley looks forward to the WPIAL championship.

“Even though I came in second, the race mentally and physically prepared me for the races to come,” said Skolnekovich, the defending WPIAL individual champion. “My teammates and I turn our attention to WPIALs and getting prepared to run our best races.”

The WPIAL championship meet will be held next Thursday at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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