LEHMAN TWP. — Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski knew that beating defending state Class 2A champion Ally Rome was not likely.
Sobocinski correctly assessed that it would be tough for the Black Knights to stop Dallas from taking two of the top three or three of the top five spots.
The veteran coach did, however, spot a way for his team to end a 52-meet Wyoming Valley Conference winning streak by the Mountaineers.
Lake-Lehman brought three runners to the finish line in succession then got its sixth and seventh runners in before the opponent’s fifth, giving Sobocinski the first dual meet victory over the Dallas girls in his 14-year career as head cross country coach, 27-30.
The finish of five runners combines to make up the team score, but each team’s sixth and seventh runner can displace the opponent, forcing their score higher.
“We basically went over different scenarios and we talked about displacement,” Sobocinski said. “I really thought it was going to come down to displacement or even a tie where we’re looking at the sixth runner.
“It was so close and Dallas is a little better up top than we are. We figured we’d have to not only get our 3-4-5, but also get our seven girls in and displace one or two of theirs.”
Lake-Lehman put all seven girls in the top 15 of the six-team cluster meet go to 3-0 on the day. Jade Fry and Julia Hutsko broke up the top Dallas runners. Olivia Vasey, Krystin Chaga and freshman Lauryn Pembleton finished ninth through 11th in the cluster and sixth through eighth in the scoring with Dallas. Jace Barnick and Lindsay Pembleton took care of the displacement.
The win over the 2013 state team champions and last year’s fifth-place team in the state positions Lake-Lehman as the front-runner to potentially end the three-year Dallas reign as conference champion.
Wednesday’s race showed the teams are clearly similar in caliber and they will meet again in league championships and on the district level where they could be fighting each other for a state spot.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these girls,” Sobocinski said.
Dallas ran Wednesday’s meet with its top four runners fighting off illnesses.
“That does not diminish the Lake-Lehman High School girls,” Dallas coach Matt Samuel said. “Our division and our district are unparalleled.”
The action at Lake-Lehman featured a defending state champion winning each race with a returning state medalist running second. Four runners who were part of team state championships in 2013 were also part of the meets where the teams that swept did so without taking first or second place individually.
Ally Rome and Tunkhannock’s Maggie Toczko ran stride-for-stride almost the entire race before Rome won by a second in 19:06.
Lake-Lehman, however, went 3-0, including wins of 23-38 over Wyoming Seminary and 15-50 over Wyoming Area. Tunkhannock and Dallas were each 2-1.
Dominic Hockenbury from Lake-Lehman broke away and won by 30 seconds in 16:03. Jacob Toczko from Tunkhannock was second.
Dallas placed five in the top 10 and seven in the top 15 to go 3-0 on the day. The Mountaineers defeated Lake-Lehman, 22-37; Tunkhannock, 21-40; and Wyoming Valley West, 16-46.
“We’re really running very well for the young group that we have,” Samuel said.
The four-time defending champion Mountaineers extended their WVC boys winning streak to 73 meets by handling the last team to beat them. Tunkhannock topped Dallas in the 2010 conference finale, but even in the weeks before winning the 2013 state championship, the Tigers were unable to beat the Mountaineers head-to-head.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Dallas 22, Lake-Lehman 37
Dallas 21, Tunkhannock 40
Dallas 16, Wyoming Valley West 46
Lake-Lehman 23, Wyoming Area 33
Lake-Lehman 19, Wyoming Seminary 38
Tunkhannock 22, Wyoming Area 35
Tunkhannock 18, Wyoming Seminary 43
Wyoming Valley West 28 (tiebreaker win), Wyoming Area 28
Wyoming Valley West 23, Wyoming Seminary 34
(at Lake-Lehman, 3.1 miles)
1. LL, Dominic Hockenbury, 16:03; 2. TUN, Jacob Toczko, 16:33; 3. DAL, Jack Zardecki, 16:58; 4. DAL, Adam Borton, 17:26; 5. DAL, Jason Culp, 17:32; 6. LL, Chris Sabol, 17:36; 7. DAL, Josh Wyandt, 17:39; 8. WVW, Jacob Kobusky, 17:45; 9, TUN, Ben Tidball, 18:09; 10. DAL, Steven Postupak, 18:28.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Lake-Lehman 27, Dallas 30
Lake-Lehman 23, Wyoming Seminary 38
Lake-Lehman 15, Wyoming Area 50
Dallas 20, Tunkhannock 40
Dallas 15, Wyoming Valley West 48
Tunkhannock 23, Wyoming Seminary 37
Tunkhannock 15, Wyoming Area 50
Wyoming Seminary 26, Wyoming Valley West 29
Wyoming Valley West 15, Wyoming Area 50
(at Lake-Lehman, 3.1 miles)
1. DAL, Ally Rome, 19:06; 2. TUN, Maggie Toczko, 19:07; 3. LL, Jude Fry, 20:35; 4. WS, Paige Kupsky, 20:53; 5. WS, Tara Kupsky, 21:02; 6. DAL, Riley Oremus, 21:16; 7. LL, Julia Hutsko, 21:26; 8. DAL, Katie Grose, 21:37; 9. LL, Olivia Vasey, 21:48; 10. LL, Krystin Chaga, 21:53.