As scholastic cross country enters crunch time, the South Fayette girls and boys as well as Mt. Lebanon’s Patrick Anderson show no signs of easing their stranglehold on the competition.

This autumn, the Lions and Anderson have dominated from the starting gun of the first invitational and they look to be first or near the top at the finish line when the WPIAL championships are held Oct. 24 at California University of Pennsylvania.

At the Grove City Invitational and the Legends Meet in Ohio last week, the Lions and Anderson continued their progression toward those gold medals.

The Lady Lions won the team title at Grove City with 43 points and their male counterparts earned runner-up honors with the same amount of points. Meanwhile, Anderson set a new course record and a new 5K PR in winning in Ohio.

SF head coach Joe Winans was pleased with the performance of his teams, particularly since they competed without a Top 5 runner on each side. The Lions still managed a tight 1-5 spread.

“That was encouraging,” Winans said. “Both our boys and girls teams ran very well and we had some tremendous front-running on our girls side.”

Lauren Iagnemma placed second overall. In securing runner-up honors, the sophomore clocked an 18:55 time.

Hailey Poe followed in sixth place. The senior posted a 19:28 time.

According to Winans, Angelina Gabriel had a “breakout” performance. The freshman finished ninth overall with a 19:47 mark.

The rest of the female pack–Gabby Baiano (12th), Emma Fleck (14th), Delaney Parisi (29th) and Morgan Lukenich (31st) had a series of personal-best times for the team.

The Lions boys team benefited from a “nice 1-2 performance” from Zach Conner, ninth overall in 16:38, and Aaron Skerbetz, 12th overall in 16:45.

Winans was also pleased with Drake Simpson, who took 17th in 17:12 as well as Roman Galioto, Drew Whiteside, Zachary Betz and Zach Warchol, who all had Top 50 showings.

“Drake is turning into a strong cross country runner for us to compliment what he’s been able to do in the 800 meters on the track,” said Winans of the junior middle-distance runner. “We also have some young freshmen that are new to 5K that are coming together nicely and getting more confident at the distance.”

This pleases Winans as the Lions approach their final tune-ups before the WPIAL championships. In addition to the Mingo Classic, there are the TSTCA Championships to be held Oct. 17 on the district championships course at Cal. U.

“We are running confidently and relatively relaxed and seem to be on track to peak at the right time,” Winans said. “The boys are looking to earn a Top 3 WPIAL spot and the girls are still fixed on winning a state championship.”

On pace to repeat

A state championship is something that Patrick Anderson already has and the Lebo senior looks fit to repeat as the PIAA winner on the first weekend in November in Hershey.

The 2018 WPIAL runner-up appeared in tip-top condition as he coasted to victory in the Legends Meet. Anderson smoked the competition in 15:09. The mark smashed the course record of 15:24 set in 2015 by Tristan Dahmen of Maplewood.

Anderson won by more than 35 seconds as St. Ignatius’ Steven Zucca secured second place with a 15:44.60 time. Boardman’s Mitchel Dunham followed in third at 15:55.60.

Anderson’s triumph came on the heels of his recent verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina. The senior selected the Tar Heels over Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and Miami (Ohio).

The 2018 Pennsylvania Gatorade Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year will also compete in track at UNC. Anderson won the 1,600-meter run in the WPIAL Class AAA championships this past spring. He also finished fourth in the PIAA championships in that race.

Anderson was not the only Blue Devil to run well at the Legends Meet. Barak Asher, a junior, finished fifth in 16:05.30.

Other top finishers for the Blue Devils included: Duncan LaDuke (26th), Matthew Quinn (27th), Eli Lehman (35th) and Thomas Quinn (49). Robert Winschel and Weston Barber both finished in the Top 80.

In the Open Division, Owen Baun took third overall. The senior posted a 17:22.30 time.

St. Ignatius went 1-2 with Joseph Maloney and Sean Freddy Becker.

Lebo’s Jack West and Jackson Baer finished in the Top 20 in 18th and 20th position.

For the Lebo ladies, Alison Hodgson finished in the Top 10 in the big school division. Freshmen Gracie Petrich and Grace Kraemer as well as senior Allison Small placed in the Top 40. Emma Toussaint and Caroline Brustoloni followed in 43rd and 52nd places.

In the Open Division, Lebo’s Emma McGreevy finished fifth in 21:46. Amanda Cetorelli and Ally Braunsdorf placed 17th and 18th. Bridget Vigrass, Lily Neemes, and Justine Meta rounded out the Top 50.

Chartiers Valley also competed in the Grove City Invitational. Santo Riccardi in 39th place was the top male finisher for the boys. Kate Pipilo, Riley Thornton, Grace Magilson, Grace Strung, Abby Betts and Allison Moses had strong showings for the Lady Colts, finishing in the Top 75.

Three for Marmol

Zack Marmol won his third straight boys title in the Washington County Coaches Cross Country Meet held Oct. 7 at Mingo Creek County Park

The Peters Township senior covered the rain-soaked 3.1-mile course in 16:20, 12 seconds faster than Josiah Wudkwych of Canon-McMillan and 15 seconds faster than Lucas Pajak of Ringgold.

On the girls side, Stephanie Keelon of Canon-McMillan won her second title after beating the field with a time of 19:59.

Peters Township won the large school (Class AAA) team title, outdistancing Canon-McMillan, 25-37. The schools reversed that order of finish with the Big Macs edging the Indians, 23-39, for the team trophy.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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