Red Devils have a good day
PORTAGE — There were no team scores recorded in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference cross country meet held Wednesdayon the Maple Crest Golf Course.
But had there been, Central Cambria most assuredly would have walked away with both the boys and girls team championships.
On a beautiful, sunny, unseasonably warm Indian summer afternoon, Central Cambria monopolized both the boys and girls leader boards behind first-place finishes from sophomore Annaliese Niebauer with a time of 20:14 in the girls race and senior Toby Cree with a time of 16:48 in the boys race.
Central Cambria placed eight runners among the top 20 runners in both the boys and girls races, with five Central Cambria boys runners and three girls runners finishing among the top 10 in their respective races.
“If this was a team race, it would have been a matter of our boys team winning by a landslide against the rest of the conference teams, and our girls team ran well in its race and would have won also had team scores been kept,” veteran Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said.
Niebauer won the girls race by 10 seconds over second-place finisher Ellie Dorian, a senior from Westmont Hilltop, who registered a time of 20:24. Chestnut Ridge sophomore Ava Whysong was third in 20:28.
Niebauer, who placed third in the District 6 Class 2A meet and qualified for the state meet last year as a freshman, used a strong finish to win Wednesday’s conference meet.
“I let it all out on the course today,” said Niebauer, who said that she broke into the lead for good with about seven-tenths of a mile remaining in the 3.1-mile race. “I sprinted ahead, and I tried to maintain that fast pace and eventually kick into gear at the finish.”
While some runners were noticeably laboring in Wednesday’s heat, Niebauer wasn’t one of them.
“We ran all summer as a team when it was super hot,” Niebauer said. “There was a slight breeze today. It felt OK.”
Wilson said that Niebauer possesses an excellent work ethic.
“She works hard at every practice and all season long, and all that work paid off for her today,” Wilson said.
Central Cambria got a fourth-place finish from junior Stella Kuntz (20:32), an eighth place from sophomore Abigail George (21:15), a 12th–place from junior Abby Walwro (21:44), and top 20 finishes from junior Marlo Soyka (14thin 21:56), freshman Lilianna Janosko (16th, 22:17), junior Faith Wilson (17th, 22:27), and senior Olivia Ratchford (18th, 22:28).
Kuntz is a two-time District 6 Class 2A champion who also earned all-state honors in both her freshman and sophomore years with respective finishes of ninth and 22ndat the PIAA meet in Hershey.
“I was expecting to do a little better today, but I gave it everything I had,” said Kuntz, who won the conference girls meet last year.
Ridge’s Whysong said that the heat bothered her en route to her third-place finish.
“It was really hot, and that made it harder,” said Whysong, a District 5 fourth-place finisher and state qualifier last year. “Colder weather is better for races.”
Central Cambria’s Cree won the boys race with a strong finish of 16:48. Chestnut Ridge sophomore Callan Bollman, noticeably affected by the heat at the finish line, placed second in 17:17, and Central Cambria sophomore Devon Morgan was third in 17:22.
“It was a little warmer for late October,” said Cree, a District 6 fourth-placer and PIAA 12th-placer last fall. “I felt strong for the first half of the race, and in the second half, I wasn’t feeling great, but I had enough in the tank to push through to the finish line.”
Wilson said that Cree sets a good example for his teammates.
“Toby is a tough kid who shows a lot of senior leadership,” Wilson said. “He ran amazing today. He really wanted to send a message.”
Ridge’s Bollman — a second-place finisher at 106 pounds in the PIAA Class 2A wrestling tournament last March — fell to the ground in exhaustion from the heat after crossing the finish line Wednesday.
“He just ran out of gas, ran out of fluids,” Chestnut Ridge coach Jason Tew said of Bollman, who placed fourth in the District 5 cross country meet last year and went to states. “He’s been working hard all year He’s a great leader.”
Morgan placed eighth in District 6 and qualified for states last year. He finished third in Wednesday’s race.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” Morgan said.
Other top 20 finishers for the Central Cambria boys were senior Tyler Gibson (fourth, 17:29), senior Adam Lechleitner (fifth, 17:41), sophomore Aiden Lechleitner (sixth, 17:48); junior Eli Wandel (seventh, 17:53), senior Evan Thomas (17th, 18:54), and freshman Evan George (20th, 18:57).
SCHOOL KEY: BED–Bedford; CC–Central Cambria; CR–Chestnut Ridge; FH–Forest Hills; PC–Penn Cambria; R–Richland; SOM–Somerset; WH–Westmont Hilltop.
(Top 20 finishers)
1, Cree, CC, 16:48; 2, Bollman, CR, 17:17; 3, Morgan, CC, 17:22; 4, Gibson, CC, 17:29; 5, Adam Lechleitner, CC, 17:41; 6, Aiden Lechleitner, CC, 17:48; 7, Wandel, CC, 17:53; 8, Stritchfield, BED, 17:57; 9, Martyak, FH, 17:59; 10, C. Walker, SOM, 18:01; 11, George, WH, 18:02; 12, B. Walker, SOM, 18:15; 13, Straka, SOM, 18:15; 14, Lee, PC, 18:24; 15, Anderson, CR, 18:28; 16, Stolarski, PC, 18:51; 17, Thomas, CC, 18:54; 18, Voelker, WH, 18:55; 19, Talko, PC, 18:55; 20, George, CC, 18:57.
(Top 20 finishers)
1, Niebauer, CC, 20:14; 2, E. Dorian, WH, 20:24; 3, Whysong, CR, 20:28; 4, Kuntz, CC, 20:32; 5, Dill, WH, 20:49; 6, Greathouse, FH, 20:51; 7, Dumm, FH, 21:07; 8, George, CC, 21:15; 9, Eshelman, BED, 21:34; 10, A. Dorian, WH, 21:40; 11, Weaverling, BED, 21:43; 12, Walwro, CC, 21:44; 13, Admire, WH, 21:45; 14, Soyka, CC, 21:56; 15, McGough, FH, 22:03; 16, Janosko, CC, 22:17; 17, Wilson, CC, 22:27; 18, Ratchford, CC, 22:28; 19, Montag, FH, 22:32; 20, Stewart, R, 22:35.