Red Devils win title

SIDMAN — Central Cambria has been able to replace quality runners while reloading at the same time over recent campaigns. The Red Devils kept that trend going during Saturday’s District 6 Cross Country Championships at the former Forest Hills Middle School course.

The rapid maturation of younger harriers and steady production from veterans helped Central Cambria win its third straight district title and fourth in five years with 47 points, which was 31 points better than second-place Tyrone in Class 2A.

Also qualifying for next Saturday’s PIAA Championships were brothers Zach and Joe Kohler, who both placed in the top five in Class 2A, of Tyrone and Altoona senior Greg Williams, who finished in sixth place in Class 3A.

Central Cambria had their top five runners finish in the top 13.

“They just were completely motivated today. They said they were running to win, not to not lose,” Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said. “They attacked. Everybody really raced well.”

Junior Ohm Vyas led the Red Devils with a sixth-place finish in 17:02.9. Following suit were sophomore Nate Kuntz (17:06.9), senior Tyler Wilson (17:39.8), freshman Ethan Shuagis (17:41.2) and sophomore Ike Haycisak (17:49.2), who came in 7th, 10th, 11th and 13th place, respectively.

“It’s amazing. This year we were kind of on our toes about making it. We lost our best runner last year,” Vyas said of losing unquestioned leader Mike Walwro to graduation. “All the young kids stepped up. It was a great feeling to know that in the following years, we’re going to have a great team and hopefully keep going to states.”

The next two Red Devils came in 16th (Zach Brandis) and 18th (Alex Jeffers) place to display the squad’s depth of talent.

Penns Valley, with five runners finishing in the top eight, and Marion Center advanced to states in Class 1A. Southern Huntingdon senior Andrew Stanley won the race in 16:10.2.

Juniata sophomore Garrett Baublitz won the Class 2A race in 16:03.9. Penn Cambria freshman Logan Michina just missed out on the cut as he came in eighth place.

Junior Zach Kohler came in third place with a time of 16:28.1 and senior Joe Kohler ended up in fifth place by crossing the finish line in 16:53.2. Both brothers advanced to Hershey for the second time each.

“I was happy with my time. It was the first time I broke 17:00 on this course even though I placed better last year,” Joe Kohler said. “I took second last year. I knew it was going to be a competitive race and I had to break 17:00 if I wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

Zach moved up four rungs on the podium this year while shaving 20 seconds off of his personal record.

“It feels good. I’m looking to do better than I have there,” Zach Kohler said of running in Hershey. “I’ve struggled on that course the first couple times I’ve ran it so I’m looking to be in the 16s there.”

The Kohlers both believe they are in a better spot to succeed this season.

“Our training this summer, we stepped it up a lot by doing more speed workouts and building more muscle in our legs,” Zach said. “When we’ve been training throughout the season, I’ve felt so much better on hills than I have before. At Hershey, they’re known for their hills.”

Williams was excited to qualify for the second year in a row.

“I wasn’t expecting a PR today and I did PR. I ran a 16:40.7, which is a two-second PR,” Williams said. “I felt strong, I felt good and it paid off.”

The senior is eager to improve on his initial showing of last year.

“I want to do better than I did last year. It was a really great experience last year. I’m hoping to beat my time last year and place in the top 100 this time,” Williams said. “I ran a 17:55 last year so I want to get it down under 17:10 this year.”

State College won the Class 3A race as SC senior Mitchell Etter prevailed in 15:43.2.

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