At this point, Wyoming Valley Conference runners are prepared for anything a course can throw at them ‚?? mud slides, rain, hurricanes.
After qualifying at the District 2 Tough Mudder ‚?? err, cross country ‚?? championships last week, 60 local runners and five WVC teams take a stab at the Parkview Cross Country Course Saturday in Hershey for the PIAA championships. Thirty-two boys and 28 girls from the Wyoming Valley are set to embark in the 3.1-mile race that begins at 9:30 a.m.
Luckily, for District 2 runners, Accuweather has sun in the forecast for Friday and Saturday. But Hurricane Sandy, coupled with two added Class A races, could chew up the ground.
‚??District 2 competed in a very muddy race,‚?Ě Holy Redeemer coach Ed Roman said. ‚??It might give (local runners) a slight advantage. I don‚??t think there‚??s a course in the state that could hold this much water.‚?Ě
State gold is in sight for both Holy Redeemer and Dallas in the Class 2A girls race.
The District 2 champion Royals bring a wealth of experience with five seasoned senior runners. Collectively, the five seniors qualified for 16 state championship races and look to be one of the stronger teams after last year‚??s fourth-place finish.
The Royals carry with them two state medalists from a year ago. Rachel Sowinski finished in second place, and Marissa Durako claimed fourth in the state race. Cassandra Gill earned fifth at districts last week, and Melissa Cruz and Jenna Nitowski fill out the Holy Redeemer senior class.
‚??All I ever expect is that they are all in their best shape and are healthy,‚?Ě Roman said. ‚??They need a good start, and that‚??s it. Nothing more they can do other than run their hearts out.‚?Ě
Standing in the Royals‚?? way is a familiar foe in Dallas. After being moved down from Class 3A, the Mountaineers stand a chance for a state title.
Mountaineers junior Regan Rome should be a contender for the top spot after winning the district championship over Sowinski and medaling at fourth in last year‚??s Class 3A championship. Rome ran last year‚??s 5k in 18:48 under wet conditions.
‚??She doesn‚??t put any kind of expectation on herself,‚?Ě Rome said. ‚??If she runs to her capabilities, she could make a lot of things happen in Hershey. I‚??m sure she‚??s capable of having an absolutely good performance.‚?Ě
Palmyra and Archbishop Wood are also expected to contend for the Class 2A title.
No district race was more compelling than the sprint finish between Dallas‚?? Dominic Deluca and Lake-Lehman‚??s Kieran Sutton. Sutton raced past Deluca on the final, muddy stretch for gold.
Sutton overachieved all season and looks to medal after last year‚??s underwhelming performance at states. If it comes down to less-than-ideal course conditions, the Black Knight senior may be primed for an exemplary performance.
Coach John Sobocinski said Sutton, who took fourth on the Hershey course in a exhibition race this fall, practiced voluntarily through Hurricane Sandy‚??s wrath to prepare for the worst conditions.
‚??I would characterize him as a mudder,‚?Ě Sobocinski said. ‚??All sorts of conditions he currently runs well. He embraces the tough conditions but he certainly doesn‚??t look forward to them.‚?Ě
Lake-Lehman freshman Dominic Hockenbury makes his state meet debut after a third-place showing in district. Hockenbury took eighth in the state-wide Hershey exhibition this season.
Following last week‚??s race, Deluca gets to prove himself after saying the district race‚??s poor conditions weren‚??t a test of anyone‚??s skill or ability. Deluca, a junior, raced to a 24th place showing in last year‚??s Class 3A meet. Dallas coach Matt Samuel said Deluca ‚??has a desire to medal at states and hasn‚??t driven himself from his goals.‚?Ě
Samuel expects that the high level of competition in the WVC benefits both Deluca and Sutton in a state race.
Tunkhannock and Scranton Prep ‚?? featuring Wilkes-Barre‚??s Ben Sullivan and Anthony Nardone ‚?? comprise the district‚??s Class 2A teams.
Hazleton Area qualified both its girls and boys teams to states. Each squad features one returning state runner.
The Cougar boys enjoyed a rousing run at districts this year, capped by a one-two finish by Jacob Fetterman and Tyler Pecora. Fetterman placed 73rd at PIAAs last year.
‚??The boys can do really well,‚?Ě first-year coach Jason Smolinsky said. ‚??Fetterman has been working really hard. I‚??m expecting big things because he‚??s put the time in every day for this since track ended.‚?Ě
Hazleton Area‚??s girls team hopes four runners in the top 10 at districts translates into medal performances. Nicole Buehrle, Angela Marchetti, Briana Papp and Cassie Papp lead the Cougars in Hershey. Buehrle ran to a 96th place performance as a freshman in 2011.
Wyoming Valley West‚??s Alex Plant makes her first appearance at PIAAs following a third-place run at districts.
Wyoming Seminary‚??s Alannah Trombetta is the lone WVC runner in Class A.
PIAA Team Qualifiers
Girls Class 3A
Hazleton Area ‚?? Nicole Buehrle, so.; Angela Marchetti, jr.; Briana Papp, jr.; Cassie Papp, jr.; Becky Marchetti, jr.; Kayla Schlauch, so.; Bethany Dudeck, fr.; Rachel Reznick, so.
Girls Class 2A
Holy Redeemer ‚?? Rachel Sowinski, sr.; Marissa Durako, sr.; Cassandra Gill, sr.; Melissa Cruz, sr.; Jenna Nitowski, sr.; Sara Mirra, jr.; Olivia Greer, fr.; Katie Gereda, so.
Dallas ‚?? Regan Rome, jr.; Bryanna Dissinger, jr.; Lindsey Oremus, so.; Ally Rome, fr.; Katie Metcalf, sr.; Maggie Fannick, jr.; Allison Grose, sr.; Megan Ostrum, jr.
Boys Class 3A
Hazleton Area ‚?? Jacob Fetterman, sr.; Tyler Pecora, sr.; Andrew Myers, jr.; Kyle Steiner, sr.; Tyler Steiner, sr.; Klynt Jones, so.; Jeremy Nenstiel, jr.; Erik Goetsch, fr.
Boys Class 2A
Scranton Prep ‚?? Ben Sullivan, so.; Anthony Nardone, so.
Tunkhannock ‚?? Jack Tidball, so.; Carson Ayers, jr.; Alex Nole, sr.; John Loomis, jr.; Jacob Toczko, fr.; Ben Siegel, jr.; James Proulx, sr.; Nicholas Ide, sr.
WVC At-Large Runners
Girls Class 3A
Wyoming Valley West ‚?? Alexandria Plant, sr.
Girls Class 2A
Crestwood ‚?? Allison Kachel, jr.; Hanover Area ‚?? Paige Antall, sr.; Pittston Area ‚?? Tara Johnson, fr.; Catherine Lombardo, sr.; Tunkhannock ‚?? Maggie Toczko, fr.; Erin Rome, so.
Girls Class A
Wyoming Seminary ‚?? Allanah Trombetta, jr.
Boys Class 2A
Coughlin ‚?? David Sadvary, so.; Dallas ‚?? Dominic Deluca, jr.; Kyle Borland, jr.; Holy Redeemer ‚?? Frazee Sutphen, sr.; Mitchell Ford, sr.; Josh Foust, sr.; Vinay Murthy, jr.; Lake-Lehman ‚?? Kieran Sutton, sr.; Dominic Hockenbury, fr.; Northwest ‚?? Mike Lewis, jr.