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Mountain Lions run like thoroughbreds

October 28, 2009 - Erik Brown
If you’re a high school cross country coach, you have to envy Altoona’s coach, Lee Baranik, for his jam-packed stable of thoroughbreds. Sophomore Dylan Mountain, with a 2009 season best of 17:00, is good enough to be the top runner at many high schools across the state, but he’s presently Altoona’s ninth man. Ahead of Dylan are two more sophomores, Korey Replogle (16:33) and Patrick Reade (16:48), two juniors, Wade Endress (15:40) and Tyler Lidwell (16:25), and four seniors, Christopher Fischer (15:52), Mike Harf (16:16), Jordan Liberman (16:29), and Tyler Hileman (16:55).
Wow, that’s a line-up! But the Mountain Lions go even deeper, with Ryan Gallagher, Chris Sinisi, Clayton Blose, and Cody Nail, all under nineteen minutes. Sporting their white singlets, the Mountain Lion boys created their own version of a white-out through the first quarter mile of the Blair County meet they hosted earlier this week.
Sidebar: The Altoona XC parents, coaches, fans, etc. do a very nice job every year of hosting both the Altoona Invitational and the Blair County Meet. They truly deserve a big thank you from all of us who are treated to their hospitality each year.  
Back to our story now… There are only two PIAA school size classifications for cross country, AA and AAA. Depending upon which team rankings you choose to go by, the Altoona Mountain Lion boys are currently ranked first or second among all AAA schools in Pennsylvania (note: PennTrackXC is a treasure). Endress and Fischer have an excellent chance of medaling at the state meet, and the Mountain Lion boys will contend for the team state championship. From my outsider’s perspective, they seem poised to do it. I see a fairly close-knit group with a solid team focus. Of course they still need to take care of business at the District 6 meet this weekend and they must stay healthy.
The latter may be more difficult than the former. Without a doubt, his team’s health is on coach Baranik’s mind. As I was setting up the Hollidaysburg Tigers’ XC tent in a steady rain at the State College Invitational last weekend, I overheard Coach Lee giving his team their final pre-race instructions:
1.)    We will not make a muddy mess in their school.
2.)    Don’t get injured.
3.)    Don’t get sick.
4.)    Try to win yourself a medal.
Good advice coach! Here’s a prayer that the Mountain Lions, and all of our area runners, stay healthy and run their very best at districts and states.
Click here for the complete roster of both the boys and girls Mountain Lion cross country teams.
Thanks for reading Against The Wind!

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