Ches-mont Cross Coun­try Champs

Hoey, Devlin both re­peat; Rustin boys sur­prise even them­selves with team crown

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

Other than one notable ex­cep­tion, there weren’t many sur­prises on a windy Mon­day morn­ing at the Ches-Mont Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.

Peren­nial power Unionville won the girls team ti­tle, and a pair of re­peat over­all win­ners — Josh Hoey from Bishop Shana­han and Ais­linn Devlin from Down­ing­town West — suc­cess­fully de­fended their ti­tles in the boys’ and girls’ races, re­spec­tively.

But when West Chester Rustin edged Down­ing­town West to cap­ture the boys’ team crown, it raised some eye­brows. It even sur­prised Golden Knights head coach Matt Taglang.

“I didn’t see it com­ing,” he ad­mit­ted. “At the mile mark, we were in third place and I was very ex­cited. At the two mile, were in sec­ond and the mo­men­tum just shifted.”

Seeded sixth head­ing into the 14-team com­pe­ti­tion, Rustin man­aged to leapfrog a bunch of con­tenders thanks to su­perla- tive ef­forts up and down the lineup. Se­nior Bran­don Hontz was the in­di­vid­ual run­ner-up to Hoey, but team­mates like Ryan Demis (sixth over­all), Ed­die Harp­stead (13th) and Blake Wink­ley (30th) also made a dif­fer­ence.

“We were pre­dicted to fin­ish sixth, but Down­ing­town West and (West Chester) Hen­der­son weren’t rac­ing all of their top guys,” Taglang ac­knowl­edged. “That kind of opened the door, so we talked about tak­ing it to the ceil­ing (Mon­day) and then just see what hap­pens.

“You could see Ryan Demis wanted it badly, and Ed­die Harp­stead was hang­ing onto his heels. They are great friends and they re­ally push each other.”

The un­sung hero, how­ever, was Wink­ley, who notched his per­sonal best de­spite suf­fer­ing from an ill­ness just last week.

“Blake came down with ver­tigo a few days ago, and we man­aged to beat Great Val­ley with­out him, and that gave us a lot of mo­men­tum,” Taglang ex­plained. “And then over the week­end, Blake got well. He was our num­ber five and he ran a fan­tas­tic race, and that help keep our points down.”

In­di­vid­u­ally, Hoey nipped Hontz by two sec­onds to cap­ture his sec­ond Ches-Mont ti­tle with a time of 16:24. The ju­nior em­ployed sim­i­lar tac­tics that helped him with the crown a year ago by sit­ting on the lead­ers and then pulling away in the fi­nal quar­ter mile.

“Josh’s mind­set was he’d rather drop dead than lose (Mon­day),” said his mom, Les­lie, who dou­bles as the Bishop Shana­han girls coach. “He has miler strength and speed.”

The younger brother to Jack­son Hoey, who now runs at Penn State, Josh cred­ited his older brother for be­ing his role model.

“He’s a big in­flu­ence. He calls me up be­fore big races and en­cour­aged me,” Josh Hoey said.

“(Hoey) is one of the top guys in the state,” Taglang added. “Bran­don (Hontz) doesn’t quite have the 200-me­ter speed that his com­peti­tor did, but on this course, a 16:26 is pretty fast.”

On the girls’ side, Devlin cruised to her third straight Ches-Mont in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onship. Her win­ning time of 17:43 was a full 40 sec­onds ahead of sec­ond place Anna Juul of Unionville.

“I knew it was go­ing to be windy, so I didn’t want to be out front early,” Devlin said. “There were two girls who took it out af­ter the first turn, so I kind of latched onto them. Once we got to a point where the head­wind wouldn’t be a strong, I took the lead and then pushed from there.

“Anna was be­hind me and I know she has an awe­some kick, so I stayed fo­cused on ramp­ing it up.”

Ac­cord­ing to Juul, she found her­self in “no man’s land” in mid-race, and be­gan miss­ing her splits. It was a dis­ap­point­ment in­di­vid­u­ally, but the In­di­ans’ team ti­tle more than made up for it.

“It’s spe­cial this time around,” Juul said. “In pre­vi­ous years, we were very good and it was kind of a gimme. This year we had to work re­ally hard.”

Over­all, Unionville placed four run­ners in the top 12, with Madi­son McGovern (sixth), El­iz­a­beth Ed­wards (11th) and Jil­lian Bris­lin (12th) help­ing the In­di­ans hold off Down­ing­town East and Dow­ing­town West.

“We ran well to­day,” said Unionville coach Mark La­cianca. “We will get bet­ter still, and our goal is to get back to states.

“I think host­ing is as much of a dis­ad­van­tage and it is an ad­van­tage. We are busy set­ting up the course, so it’s chaotic and we won’t get much of a chance to talk to the ath­letes. But we are get­ting bet­ter at it. The first cou­ple years it was a zoo.

“Our ath­letes did a nice job get­ting ready by them­selves.”


At top, Bishop Shana­han’s Josh Hoey holds off West Chester Rustin’s Bran­don Hontz (rear) to defend his ti­tle at Mon­day’s Ches-Mont Cham­pi­onships at Unionville. At bot­tom, Down­ing­town West’s Ais­linn Devlin hits the fin­ish line to defend her Ches-Mont crown in the girls race.


Run­ners from West Chester Rustin cel­e­brate their team ti­tle at Mon­day’s Ches-Mont Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.


Run­ners in the Chest-Mont Girls Cross Coun­try start out at Unionville High School, Mon­day.

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