Both CC teams earn silver medals
NB’s Zimmerman places sixth
Central Cambria had to settle for a pair of runner-up performances as a team in the PIAA Class 2A boys and girls cross country championships Saturday in Hershey, but four Red Devils managed to place, including Toby Cree’s eighth overall finish in 17:07.
“That was our highest boys finish in school history,” Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said. “We had never been on the podium, so it was really awesome. They really ran great. It was a tough race for everybody with the smaller races and there being more running lanes, but our boys did well with that format. They all ran really well and ran strong as a team. They wanted to win, but the other team just had a better day.”
Devon Morgan also placed for the CC boys, finishing 17th in 17:29. On the girls side, Annaliese Niebauer was 16th in 20:42, and Stella Kuntz placed 20th in 20:52.
Lewisburg edged the Central Cambria boys, 57-71, for the boys title, and Warrior Run topped the Lady Devils, 40-77.
“We battled to get through districts, so to end up second in the state is pretty impressive,” Wilson said. “We had two regular-season losses this year, and we could have folded it up. Everyone thought we were done after we lost our season opener, but the girls kept grinding as a team and gave everything they had.”
The highest individual finisher from the area on Saturday was Northern Bedford’s Ian Zimmerman in the PIAA Class 1A boys race. The senior, who is also a track and field star, placed sixth in 17:07 but was impacted by the PIAA running Saturday’s races in heats as a coronavirus pandemic precaution rather than all together like past years.
“The way the race was held was different, and it hurt some of us, because we didn’t face the same people we would have faced in a normal year,” Zimmerman said. “I am just happy we got to compete, because we didn’t think we would, but we were blessed to be able to compete. I won my heat, but I finished sixth overall. For some of the kids, there wasn’t as much competition. It’s harder when you feel like you are out there running by yourself and normally in the state meet, you have all these guys you are trying to chase down.”
Chestnut Ridge’s Calan Bollman also medaled in the 1A race with a 16th place finish in 17:29.
In the Class 1A girls race, Portage’s Lauren Shaffer, who finished second as a freshman, led her closest competitor by 16 seconds 2.5 miles into the course. But Shaffer struggled in the final half mile and slipped to a 42nd-place finish in 22:17.
“We are all heartbroken for Lauren and the outcome of (Saturday’s) race,” Portage coach Lance Hudak said. “However, she will recover from this and become even stronger and better prepared for Hershey her senior season. She is a remarkable person who will persevere and continue to leave her mark on area athletics.”
The news wasn’t all bad for the Lady Mustangs, however. Freshman Alex Chobany managed to place 22nd in 21:35.
“Alex upped her training regimen as the year progressed and got better and better in doing so,” Hudak said. “She is a fierce competitor who excels at everything she does. Her future in cross country is so bright, and Portage is so proud that she medaled as a freshman.”
Chestnut Ridge’s Ava Whysong also placed ninth in 20:54, and Juniata Valley star Morgan Hess just missed a medal with a 26th-place finish in 21:48.
“Overall, the state meet was a great experience for me and was a key stepping stone in my progression as a runner,” Hess said. “After my finish at districts last season, my goal since that day was to qualify for the state cross country meet this year. After considering all the craziness of the season and of the state meet itself, I felt that I did the best that I could do under the circumstances. I will definitely use this opportunity to continue to push myself through the winter and spring and use it as fuel to achieve my future goals.”
It was also a big day for several regional competitors in District 6.
The Penns Valley girls won the PIAA Class 1A championship, 37-63, over Mohawk, and Colton Sands captured the PIAA Class 1A boys individual title for the Rams in 16:42.
State College’s Brady Bigger won the PIAA Class 3A boys individual title in 16:07, and the Lady Little Lions finished as the state runner-up, 59-73, to North Allegheny.
Altoona’s Reese Wilber finished 80th in the Class 3A girls race, and teammate Mackenzie Kelley was 89th in 23:26.
Hollidaysburg’s Chris Love finished 40th in the boys 3A race in 17:18, and Ben Love was 60th in 17:41.
OTHER AREA FINISHERS
CLASS 1A: 95, Harley Socie, NBC, 24:26; 102, Emilee Sherlock, NBC, 24:49.
CLASS 2A: 45, Abby Walwro, CC, 21:50; 55, Meah Eshelman, Bed, 22:08; 68, Olivia Ratchford, CC, 22:35; 69, Avery Weaverling, Bed, 22:39; 70, Marlo Soyka, CC, 22:41; 77, Lilianna Janoska, CC, 22:58; 79, Maura Thomas, Bed, 23:04; 80, Alexis Twigg, Bed, 23:04; 89, Abigail George, CC, 23:42; 91, Jessica Dibert, Bed, 23:56.
CLASS 1A: 58, Josh Canavan, Portage, 18:46; 72, August Anderson, CR, 19:04.
CLASS 2A: 29, Adam Lechleitner, CC, 17:41; 47, Gavin Hoy, Tyrone, 18:00; 48, Aiden Lechleitner, CC, 18:02; 52, Tyler Gibson, CC, 18:06; 57, Evan Thomas, CC, 18:11; 74, Eli Wandel, CC, 18:31; 98, Logan Michina, Penn Cambria, 19:12; 101, Nate Scritchfield, Bed, 19:01; 130, Isaac Swope, Bed, 21:25; 133, Evan Sigel, Bed, 22:26.