DALLAS TWP. — Nearly 800 runners from 27 schools, from as far away as Northeast Bradord, competed in the 44th annual Cliff Robbins Memorial High School Invitational Cross Country Races on Saturday at Letterkenny Fields. And runners from Crestwood, Scranton High, Scranton Junior High and Montrose secured top honors in the races that serve as a warm up for the upcoming high school cross country season.
Going into the premiere race of the day, Boys Varsity 5K, the buzz throughout the grounds had Dallas senior Mitch Rome the favorite. But Scranton High School junior, Josh Christianson pulled off the big upset, breaking the tape in 16 minutes and 53 seconds.
Rome pulled in second, seven seconds behind. Holy Redeemer senior Bryce Zapusek finished third, nine seconds behind Rome.
“I moved in front of (Rome) with about 250 meters to go, “Christianson said. “Then I went into a full sprint and was able to hold him off. I looked back with about 50 meters to go to see if he was coming up on me — he wasn’t. So I just held my speed to the finish.”
That wasn’t the only upset of the day.
In the Girls Varsity 5K, Crestwood freshman, Molly DeMarzo broke the tape in 20:13, outracing Scranton Prep senior Mia Bellucci by 13 seconds. Last year, Bellucci won the two warm ups for the upcoming cross country season — Cliff Robbins and Coaches Invitational at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds — and that’s why DeMarzo’s win was shocking.
“I went out at a reasonable pace,” DeMarzo said. “I stuck with the lead pack over the first two miles and began picking off people. I ran with (Bellucci) for a while. And I pulled away from her with about a mile to go.”
Bella Nareika, an eighth grader from Scranton Junior High, won the Girls Junior High 3K in 12:18. She outran second-place finisher, Paige Brewer, an 8th grader from Montrose, by 10 seconds.
“I ran at the same pace over the early part of the race,” said Noreika. “I caught and passed the lead girl on the second downhill. Once I moved in front, I picked up the pace and ran to the win.”
The most exciting race of the day ended up in a disqualification and a big disappointment.
Peter Sica, an 8th grader from Moscow, made what appeared to be a valiant come-from-behind six hundreds of a second win in 11:30 over Sam Stashko, an 8th grader from Montrose in the Boys Junior High 3K. But after the race, race director Karen Moskel disqualified Sica on a technicality — he is home schooled — and was running unattached and not with North Pocono High School and never proved he passed a physical.
PIAA physicals are required to show that you are, in fact, fit to run hence covered for liability insurance purposes. Sica put off joining North Pocono because he had trouble deciding between playing soccer or running cross country.
So, Montrose’s Stashko was awarded the win.
The first 25 finishers in each race received medals.
Wyoming Valley Striders 44th annual Cliff Robbins Sr. Memorial High School Invitational Cross Country Races
Junior High Girls 3K (1.86 miles)
Bella Nareika, 8th, Scranton, 12:18
Paige Brewer, 8th, Montrose, 12:28
Amelia King, 8th, Scranton, 12:44
Stephanie Summerville, 8th, Montrose, 12:51
Lexie Marcinkowski, 8, Holy Redeemer, 12:58
Field: 154 finishers.
Junior High Boys 3K
Peter Sica, 8th, Unattached, 11:30.62 (DQ)
Sam Stashko, 8th, Montrose, 11:30.68
Nick Hockenbury, 8th, Lake-Lehman, 11:35
James Bixby, 8th, Montrose, 11:36
Dustin Polchin, 8th, Hazleton, 11:41
Vincenzo Iacavazzo, fresh, Mid Valley, 11:46
Field: 160 finishers
Girls Varsity 5K (3.1 miles)
Molly DeMarzo, fresh, Crestwood, 20:13
Mia Bellucci, senior, Scranton Prep, 20:26
Madison Bradric, soph, Lake-Lehman, 21:02
Abby Paczewski, junior, Lake-Lehman, 21:11
Nicole Zambetti, junior, Pittston, 21:11
Field: 133 finishers
Boys Varsity 5K
Josh Christianson, junior, Scranton, 16:53
Mitch Rome, senior, Dallas, 17:00
Bryce Zapusek, senior, Holy Redeemer, 17:09
Liam Mead, senior, Montrose, 17:31
Stephen Postupak, senior, Scranton Prep, 17:51
Field: 235 finishers
Official starters: Vince P. Wojnar and Kyle Garner. Timing and results: Runner’s High (run high.com).
Finish line coordinators: Jim Moran and Dick Daniels. Race directors: Karen Moskel and Don Grose.
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