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We Are The Champions!

October 30, 2007 - Erik Brown

            Hello and welcome to “Against The Wind”, the blog for and about runners of all ages, stripes, and abilities from the Mirror coverage area. We’ll blog about everything from fun runs for youngsters to the Olympic marathon. In this nook of the Mirror website you’ll find training advice for beginners, information on upcoming local races, race results, profiles and interviews with runners and coaches from our region, and perhaps an occasional guest column. Your comments, criticisms, opinions, and advice are welcomed and appreciated.


            For this inaugural post, I want to extend hearty congratulations to this year’s PIAA D5 and D6 Cross Country (XC) champions, crowned Saturday, October 27th at their respective district meets. Special thanks to for providing much of the information that follows. 


            District 6


            In the most exciting finish to a D6 championship race that I can recall, Altoona’s Chris Fischer was edged out for the individual title by Somerset’s Craig Eddy in the AAA boys’ race. Both runners were clocked in 17:01. Fischer’s strong performance was backed up by his Mountain Lion teammates: Wade Endress, 4th in 17:18, Jordan Liberman, 7th in 17:26, Ryan Trexler, 9th in 17:42, Johnny Sneed, 12th in 17:50, Mike Harf, 14th in 17:55, and Tyler Lidwell, 16th in 18:19.


The State College team bolted out to an early lead through the first mile, but the Altoona boys, coached by Lee Baranik, showed a lot composure and race savvy as they gradually closed the gap and picked off their rivals one by one. At the two mile mark, the team race was too close to call. Over the final mile, the Altoona harriers continued their move to the front and won easily 34 -52. Other AAA boys state qualifiers coming out of D6 are Greg Opp from Somerset, 3rd in 17:16, Mike Williams from State College, 5th in 17:19, Paul Kernfeld from State College, 6th in 17:20, and Kyle Ragan from State College, 8th in 17:34.


            The girls’ AAA individual title was won by Chloe Schmidt of State College in 20:02. She was followed closely by her teammates: Lucia Soeo, 2nd in 20:17, Rachel Thor, 3rd in 20:35, Tirzah Stashko, 5th in 20:54, Natalie Kapustik, 6th in 20:55, Alyssa Cousins, 9th in 21:01, and Jessica Hughes, 15th in 21:49 as the State College girls captured the team title over Altoona by 17-58.


The Altoona girls, coached by Tabitha Quinn will be well represented at the PIAA State meet by Sasha Peterman, 7th in 20:56, Kelsey O’Brien, 10th in 21:02, and Jade Oswald, 11th in 21:26. Other D6 AAA girls state qualifiers are Stephanie Hainzer from Somerset, 4th in 20:50 and Elizabeth Fuoco from Lewistown, 9th in 21:01.


            The D6 AA girls’ featured one of the top runners in the nation – Central Cambria’s Carly Seymour. Carly didn’t disappoint. Her 17:39 course record was predictable, but none-the-less outstanding. Based on her performances this season, Carly appears ready to win her second individual PIAA state title this Saturday in Hershey. She won as a sophomore in 2005 by narrowly defeating Laren Zarger of Haborcreek and finished a close second behind Kacey Gibson of Neshannock in last year’s race (Zarger was third). Gibson and Zarger will be back in Hershey on Saturday and the two will surely provide stiff competition, but I believe we’ll be seeing Carly break the tape again this year.


Seymour was joined by her sisters Kelsey, 5th in 19:44, and Kendall, 7th in 19:56, and by Annie Cekada, 6th in 19:48, Emily Wright, 9th in 20:22, Ashley Stump, 17th in 20:52, and Morgan Eckenrod, 35th in 22:25 as Central Cambria, coached by Randy Wilson captured the team title over Forest Hills 28-76. Other AA state qualifiers coming out of D6 are the Forest Hills team, coached by Tom Hunter and consisting of: Leah Anne Wirfel, 2nd in 19:00, Sarah Strayer, 4th in 19:34,  Kara Styles, 8th in 20:12, Courtney Smey, 30th in 22:16, Laura Kirby, 32nd in 22:19, Teddi Burkett, and Jami Ivory. Bishop McCort will be represented by Kelsi Yingling, 10th in 20:25, Jill Spisak, 14th in 20:47, Kristy Chovanec, 18th in 20:55, and Lauren Wood, 19th in 21:10. Penns Valley sends Shannon Yarger, 12th in 20:35 and Alisha Jordon, 15th in 20:48. Rounding out the D6 AA girls state qualifiers are Hannah Miller, 3rd in 19:18 from Laurel Valley, Lauren Krug, 11th in 20:30 from Penn Cambria, Katrina Woods, 13th in 20:43 from Mt. Union, and Rachel Rajter, 16th in 20:49 from Westmont Hilltop.


            Jim Spisak from Bishop McCort turned in a dominating performance in the D6 AA boys race, crossing the finish line in 16:24 to take the individual title. Look for Spisak, who has shown steady improvement through his first three seasons, to contend for All-State honors in Hershey next week.


Spisak’s teammates Mike Garver and Andy Luksik finished 2nd in 17:05 and 3rd in 17:08 respectively, but Bishop McCort’s depth couldn’t match the Central Cambria boys, also coached by Randy Wilson, who made it a sweep for the Red Devils capturing the boys AA team title over Penns Valley 112 - 116. Central Cambria’s top seven runners were: Phil Steinberg, 5th in 17:11, Mike Salguero, 18th in 17:51, Corey Sheehan, 20th in 17;57, Ben Kinley, 30th in 18:25, and Scott Pandya, 39th in 18:49, Arjun Vyas, and Will Lush.


Other D6 AA boys state qualifiers include the Penns Valley team coached by Terry Glunt and consisting of: Nathan Brown, 4th in 17:08, Matt Brooker, 8th in 17:25, Seth Lynch, 24th in 18:03, Peter Kistler, 29th in 18:14, Nick Monroe, Brad Harlos, and Frank Brown. Also, Dean Slatko from Penn Cambria, 6th in 17:23, Ben Hatch from Bellwood-Antis, 7th in 17:24, Alex Klinger from Bald Eagle Area, 9th in 17:25, Alex Woodrow from Marion Center, 10 in 17:28, Max Penrose from Laurel Valley, 11th in 17:28, Jason Dean from Westmont-Hilltop, 12th in 17:31, and Rich Stever from Tyrone, 13th in 17:35.


            District 6 Honorable Mention – as anyone who follows XC knows, the district meets are highly competitive. Unfortunately, each year some very deserving young athletes finish on the wrong side of the qualifying cutoff for the PIAA state meet. It can be a heartbreaking experience to train so diligently and come up just short of the goal. So I want to recognize some of these athletes as well: AAA boys: Joe Short from Indian Valley, 10th in 17:46 and Wilson Ricardo from Central Mountain, 11th in 17:49. AAA girls: Sophie Kashurbe from Somerset, 12th in 21:42, Alexis Ebersole from Altoona, 13th in 21:44 and Ashley Ott from Hollidaysburg, 14th in 21:48. AA boys: Aaron Keeney from Huntingdon, 14th in 17:37 and Jonathan MaKoczy from Forest Hills, 15th in 17:40. AA girls: Emiley Stapleton from Bellwood-Antis, 20th in 21:14 and Danielle Brooks from Williamsburg, 21st in 21:31.              


            District 5  


Jeremiah Wilt from Shanksville-Stoneycreek won the District 5 boys AA individual title with a time of 17:23. Bedford edged out Chestnut Ridge 32 – 37 to win the D5 Boys AA team title with their top seven runners consisting of: Zach Maust, 4th in 18:30, Colin Coffeld, 7th in 18:49, Ryan Ferguson, 10th in 19:07, Robbie Orr, 13th in 19:47, Trey Easter, 17th in 19:52, Caleb Fisher, 18th in 20:02, and Michael Himmelright, 23rd in 21:45. Other AA Boys state qualifiers coming out of D5 are Ian Mitchell from Tussey Mountain, 2nd in 18:02, Tim Roddy from Windber, 3rd in 18:19, and Kyle Holderbaum, 5th in 18:45 and Tyler Schoenberger, 6th in 18:46, both from Chestnut Ridge.


            Richelle Lashley from Bedford won the District 5 girls AA individual title with a time of 21:42. Chestnut Ridge reversed the boys result and defeated Bedford 32 – 37 to capture the D5 Girls AA team title with their top seven runners consisting of: Kristen Koontz, 2nd in 21:45, Alexis Pauley, 5th in 22:27, Jeane Pauley, 6th in 22:28, Olivia Webb, 11th in 23:41, Elizabeth Leister, 15th in 24:12, Lynette Allison, 18th in 25:01 and Katherine Bischof, 22nd in 25:29. Other AA girls state qualifiers coming out of D5 are Chelsey Hollenshead from Southern Fulton, 3rd in 22:09, Mary Munion from Meyersdale, 4th in 22:24, Ruth Ongley from Rockwood, 7th in 22:43 and Sarah Emerick from Bedford, 8th in 22:59.


            District 5 Honorable Mention: AA Boys: Aaron Benner from Northern Bedford, 8th in 18:59 and Coty Hart from Shade, 9th in 19:05. AA Girls: Ashly Koontz from Bedford 9th in 23:14 and Tory Minnick from Meyersdale, 10th in 23:32.

Once again, congratulations to all of the D5 and D6 state qualifiers. Have a great day in Hershey! If I missed someone, please feel free to provide the runner's information as a comment.

Check back later this week for a preview of the U.S.A. Mens' Olympic Marathon Trial to be held in Central Park, NYC on Saturday in which Northern Bedford H.S. alumni Brian Sell will be making his bid for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. 


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