The first day of the cross country season could not have gone much better for Dominic DeLuca.
The Dallas senior covered the 3.1-mile course at Letterkenny Fields in 16:46 to lead a group of 222 runners while winning the boys championship at the Cliff Robbins Invitational on Aug. 31.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Dallas cross country coach Matt Samuel said. “Any time you get a win in an invitational like that, it’s satisfying but I think he has his eyes set on the future and some bigger races down the road.”
DeLuca led the way for a big day by the entire Dallas program.
The Mountaineers won the varsity and junior high boys championship and the varsity girls finished second, despite competing without multiple state medalist Regan Rome.
There are more important meets ahead in regular season and postseason competition, but the strength of the field at the traditional season opener bodes well for Dallas.
“It’s not how you start, it’s kind of how you finish the season,” Samuel said. “But you have to know where you’re at and it’s a good indication of things to come.
“We’ve all started out on the right foot here.”
DeLuca finished second at the highly competitive District 2 Class AA championships last season when the Mountaineers took fourth behind Scranton Prep, Tunkhannock and Holy Redeemer. Tunkhannock and Scranton Prep, which returns six of its top eight runners, then finished fourth and fifth in the state in Class AA.
“Those are pretty impressive things,” Samuel said of the state team finishes. “They just happen to be in the same district as us.
“Any time we can compete with those guys and get the best of them, or at least keep it close when they get the best of us, it’s a pretty good result.”
Scranton Prep kept it close, but the Mountaineers came out with the team title when the finishes of its top five runners totaled 70, one better than the Cavaliers.
Travis Mattson placed ninth, Bryce Mattson 13th and Kyle Borland 15th for the all-senior Dallas lineup. Brenden Ehret was 35th, but 32nd among runners from full teams, to complete the team score.
DeLuca got it all started by finishing 11 seconds in front of Lake-Lehman sophomore Dominic Hockenbury, who was third in the district last year. DeLuca adds the Robbins championship to a pair of conference cross country titles and a district title he won in track season.
“It was a good way to start off, especially knowing he still feels he can do even better,” Samuel said.
The Mountaineers entered the season feeling strong after their summer training.
“It was the smartest, most sensible overall summer of training that I’ve ever had a team have,” Samuel said.
That was immediately evident.
While Regan Rome rested to be careful with a groin injury, Dallas still placed second among 16 girls teams with 85 points to finish behind only Council Rock North’s 68 points.
“We didn’t want to beat her up,” Samuel said of taking the cautious approach early. “It’s good to know the other girls can step up in her place.”
Lindsey Oremus, Bryanna Dissinger and Ally Rome crossed the finish line in succession in fifth through seventh place.
Riley Oremus and Katie Grove completed the team scoring.
Dallas also won the junior high boys title, 72-107, over Northeast Bradford. Jack Zandecki was ninth, Adam Borton 11th and Mitchell Rome 13th.
The Dallas JV boys were third out of five teams and the junior high girls were fifth out of 11 teams.
Lake-Lehman placed 10th of 20 varsity boys teams and ninth in the varsity girls race. Sophomore Julia Hutsko led the girls with a 30th-place finish.