Golden day on the course for locals
BETHLEHEM >> Last year was as dominant a finish as you’ll ever see, as the Jenkintown boys cross country team — on their way to the District 1-A title, placed one through five.
This year was different. They placed one through six. “It was hard to improve on what we did last year and I think we did,” said a smiling Jack Miller, on a crisp, clear day on the course at Lehigh University. “I’m really happy about that. I know all of the guys are really excited.”
Miller won his second straight gold and the Drakes pulled off a district three-peat, part of a big day by locals in the big qualifying race for states.
“It’s a lot of fun having this group of guys, a group that a school as small as ours doesn’t normally get to have,” said Miller, who set a winning pace with a time of 15 minutes, 58.5 seconds. “It’s real exciting that we have all of these good, hard-working guys out here.”
The Drakes took the top six spots, as Luke Miller (16:17.2), Pat Wagner (16:18.8), Carter Geer (16:21.5), Aiden Michell (17:14.5) and Travis Geer (17:29.2) created a wall of red.
Miller led the way from the start.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster getting ready for next week,” he said. “Today was just sorta take it out kinda hard and see how long my teammates held on for.
After that, I just had to push myself mentally and physically and put in a hard effort.
“I think (states will) be a lot of fun. That’s the big goal — to have fun with the team. It’s a really great opportunity that we don’t normally get.”
Pope John Paul II swept Class 2A, with the girls edging Villa Joseph Marie 56-60. A goal that was set way back in the heat of summer came to fruition at Lehigh Friday, with the leaves finally starting to change color.
“We wanted it so bad. It was our goal since the beginning of the season, what we’ve been working on since July,” said freshman Kayla Croiger, who was a gamer, placing third to lead the Golden Panthers. “We knew who we had to beat, where our times needed to be.”
Later in the morning, the boys came through to complete the sweep.
“Last year was just by a point and this year, we blew ‘em away,” Jack Brosius said. “To see our girls win it before our race, it was a big motivator. We knew it was gonna be hard (to repeat). It’s easy to do well when people don’t know who
you are. It’s harder to stay in front.”
Brosius is always a difference maker for PJP. Last year as a freshman, he was the fifth runner and got the place the Golden Panthers needed to secure first. This year, he was the pack leader, and raced all the way to second.
“We lost two seniors from last year so that was a big hit. So we had a freshman and a sophomore and those two really stepped it up,” he said. “Our seniors really led the pack in practice and through everything.”
Also making an impressive title defense was the Central Bucks West girls, who held off second-place West Chester Henderson, 104-111, in crowded Class 3A.
“We all tried to run together at the beginning and I was running with (teammate) Piper (Wilson),” said the Bucks’ Julia Flood, who raced to seventh. “Everyone did awesome — we all did better than our P.R.’s. It’s so motivating for states so I’m really excited.”
The Dock (Class A) and St. Basil girls (2A) each had a competitor earn runnerup honors: sophomore Lauren Birch for the Pioneers, freshman Alina LaForest for the Panthers.
“The Calvary girls pushed me really hard,” Birch said. “In other races, I tend to think too much, and with this one, I stopped thinking and just ran.”
“It wasn’t as tough as I expected,” LaForest said. “It was really flat, not as many hills as usual. It was pretty good. I wanted to stay up there with (Villa Maria’s Sarah Raubenheimer), stay up there as close as possible.”
Lower Moreland’s Shane Cohen came in as the defending champ in Class 2A boys, and with a gutsy kick, he made sure it stayed that way.
“All year, I’ve been working for this. I hadn’t been running too well this year but this was the only thing on my mind,” he said after gutting out one last surge past
Brosius of PJP. “This is my championship for now. I was glad I had something left. I wanted to go back to back so much.
“I was gonna have (the rest of the front pack) take it out, let them set the pace. I didn’t really feel too well so I was cruising behind them. Back in the cornfield, they were kinda getting far from me. I was focusing on them, looking at their backs, trying to get closer to them.”
Cohen was unbeatable down the stretch.
Later on in Class 3A, North Penn’s Noah Demis saw his way to states.
“It feels really good in a competition like this,” Demis said after racing to fourth in a field of 393 runners. “Districts always has a really high level of competition. And I’m just happy I made it up there with those top competitors.
“My coaches and I had really been working on (my kick) so I could use that at the end, and it really made me feel confident. It helped me trust my training and let me know I had it at the end.”
Next up is the PIAA State Championships in Hershey next Saturday.
District One Championships at Lehigh University Boys
State Qualifying Teams: 1. Downingtown West 71; 2. Unionville 120; 3. Council Rock South 218; 4. Haverford Township 230; 5. Central Bucks East 257; 6. Owen J. Roberts
State Qualifying Local Individuals: 4. Noah Demis (North Penn) 15:40; 10. Jason Cornelison (Cheltenham) 15:50.4; 23. Ethan Saville (Pennridge) 15:59; 27. John Zawislak (Spring-Ford) 16:03; 28. Stefano Isabella (Hatboro-Horsham) 16:03; 30. Devon Comber (Hatboro-Horsham) 16:04; 36. Matt Varghese (Methacton) 16:07; 48. Andrew Gillespie
(CBW) 16:19.1; 50. Josiah Moyer (Souderton) 16:20.6; 52. Samir Razi (NP) 16:21.9.
State Qualifying Team: 1. Pope John Paul II 25. PJP-2. Jack Brosius, 16:29.6; 3. Jack Phillips, 16:41.7; 5. Kaden Buchler, 17:02; 6. Jack Flynn, 17:13.2; 9. John Schiele, 17:23.6.
State Qualifying Local Individuals: 1. Shane Cohen (Lower Moreland) 16:29; 7. Shane Coll (Upper Moreland) 17:16.8.
State Qualifying Team: 1. Jenkintown 15. J-1. Jack Miller, 15:58.5; 2. Luke Miller, 16:17.2; 3. Pat Wagner, 16:18.8; 4. Carter Geer, 16:21.5; 5. Aiden Michell, 17:14.5. State Qualifying Local Individuals: 7. Matt Birch (Dock) 17:34.2; 11. Sean Robinson (Dock) 17:45.0.
Girls Class 3A
State Qualifying Teams: 1. Central Bucks West 104; 2. West Chester Henderson 111; 3. Unionville 215; 4. West Chester East 230; 5. Central Bucks East 249; 6. Avon Grove 249.
CBW-7. Julia Flood, 18:24; 11. Piper Wilson, 18:41.8; 21. Emmi Simon, 18:58.5; 32. Grace Kolbe, 19:08.5; 33. Darby Roth, 19:09.1.
State Qualifying Local Individuals:
13. Janelle Williams (Cheltenham) 18:45.9; 17. Megan Ciasullo (Mount St. Joe’s) 18:54.5; 18. Elaina O’Toole (Upper Dublin) 18:56.2; 28. Emily Smith (SpringFord) 19:04.8; 35. Makala Hansen (William Tennent) 19:12.0; 38. Maeve Gimbert (North Penn) 19:13.3; 42. Leah Dubin (Wissahickon) 19:22.7; 44. Lael Flores (Souderton) 19:25.1.
State Qualifying Team:
1. Pope John Paul II 56. PJP-3. Kayla Croiger, 20:04; 7. Gianna Cagliola, 20:13.8; 11. Kathryn Todd, 20:32.5; 15. Julia Costello, 20:46.5; 20. Natalie Florig, 21:00.5.
State Qualifying Local Individuals:
2. Alina LaForest (St. Basil) 19:23.0; 3. Jill Kelly (Upper Moreland) 20:01.8; 5. Kelly Murray (Gwynedd Mercy) 20:04.6.
State Qualifying Team:
State Qualifying Local Individuals: 2. Lauren Birch (Dock) 20:06.1; 5. Caroline Arena (Jenkintown) 21:09.7; 9. Sara Kennel (Dock) 21:42.0.
The Jenkintown boys captured their third straight District 1-A title.