With six runners, including the champion, in the top 15, the Foundation Meet shed a positive light for the WPIAL’s chances for success during the PIAA Class AAA boys cross country championships to be held on the same course Nov. 2 in Hershey.
“Anytime you get a chance to race on the state championship course, it’s good for muscle memory and confidence,” said USC head coach Doug Petrick. “From the results, it made me very proud of our athletes from the South Hills and our district. To see the placing of individuals and teams bodes well for November.”
Patrick Anderson certainly hopes so. The Mt. Lebanon senior is the defending PIAA champion.
In winning the Foundations Meet’s Gold Division, he covered the course in a personal record time of 15:51.
“This gives me confidence going into the postseason races coming up for sure,” Anderson said.
“Obviously, there’s a ton of good guys in states and in my district. I have so much respect for those guys — us pushing each other all the time and I know they are there,” he said. “They want it just as bad as I do. It just comes down to who wants it more that day.”
After running with the lead pack for the first two miles, Anderson separated himself from Zachary Leachman during the third mile. The Mars runner secured second place with a 16:29 time, 38 seconds off Anderson’s pace. Joshua Lewin from West Chester East and Peters Township’s Zack Marmol followed, each recording 16:31 times.
Anderson said he wasn’t pushing all out in the first miles because he didn’t want to take the pace out all by himself.
“I went out with the guys in front and just kind of paced right there with them but about two miles, I just started to push my own pace and got it done eventually,” he said.
Despite tempering his training with college visits, Anderson said he is in “great shape” for this point of the season.
“Being away and traveling has gotten in the way of some training,” he said, “but I will be back to my regular training and getting some hard workouts in.
“The win is another boost, but I had plenty of room to go a lot harder in the last half mile,” he added. “I was able to get it down with what I had but there is room to go harder, room for improvement.”
That’s unpleasant news for Anderson’s competition. He is the reigning state champion after finishing second in the district last autumn. He also was the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year for cross country. Plus, he his tracke season included running in the Penn Relays, winning WPIAL gold and placing high in the PIAA.
“There is definitely extra pressure to try and come back and defend the title,” Anderson said of his PIAA crown. “It’s all the more encouragement for me though to get out there and get it done.
“I’m feeling pretty good actually. The legs are feeling good but there was room to push. So, I’m expecting big things coming up.”
Expectations are high for Alex Shaw. The Upper St. Clair senior finished 11th overall in the Gold Division with a 16:59 time.
“Each year, Alex has taken big steps forward as a distance runner,” Petrick said. “It was exciting to know he ran very strong and tactically within highly competitive field. He is having a stellar season, and is a tremendous leader.”
Lower Merion led in the boys standings, taking the team title with 172 points. North Allegheny secured second with a 198 score while Lebo finished sixth.
Swap nil Rana (23), Matthew Quinn (55), Thomas Quinn (95) finished in the top 100 while Duncan LaDuke (104), Trey Reichenfeld (106) and Barak Asher (119) completed the Blue Devil scoring.
The Lebo boys finished fourth in the team standings of the junior varsity race. Robert Winschel led the way with a seventh-place showing of 18:30. Eli Lehman (11th) and Jackson Baer (20th) finished in the top 20 with times of 18:30 and 18:42, respectively.
Weston Barber, Sam Chrystal and Ryan Cawley finished in the top 50, while Ben Asher, Jack West and Joshua Sabram placed in the top 100.
Owen Baun and Peter Swindal also competed for the Blue Devils.