South Fayette ends Quaker Valley’s reign
SLIPPERY ROCK – Before the first race began Thursday afternoon, everyone knew it would take a superior effort to knock off one of the most successful WPIAL boys Class AA cross country programs in the state.
And that’s exactly what South Fayette gave.
Placing four runners in the top 20, South Fayette ended Quaker Valley’s six-year reign as WPIAL champion by winning the Class AA title.
The Lions finished with 74 points, Uniontown was second with 92 and Quaker Valley took third with 114. All three teams advanced to the PIAA Championships, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 2 in Hershey.
The top three teams in each of the six divisions advanced. The top 15 runners in each of those divisions who were not on a state qualifying team advance, too.
Joncarlo Patton led the Lions effort with a third-place finish and a time of 16:59. He’ll be joined in Hershey by teammates Ryan. Lerda, who was 10th, Evan Zombek (17th), Patrick Brady (20th) and Stephen Zombek, Jason Cillo and Devan Sandala.
“I was talking to my dad before we left, and he told me that a first-place finish would be great, but do your best for the team,” said Patton, a senior. “I took third, but if the team wins the title, I’ll take that any day of my life.”
It was a bitter cold day at Cooper’s Lake, but the Lions made it one to remember.
“I told the boys all week that we were going to dethrone the defending champs,” said South Fayette head coach Joe Winans. “This group of guys haven’t known anything but that Quaker Valley is the WPIAL champion. I told them they could change that this year.”
Does Winans feel South Fayette should be looked upon as the new powerhouse in Double-A?
“Yeah, I do.” he said. “They way these guys ran all year, I would put them up against any team in the state. We have another opportunity at states. I like our chances. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Nate Edenfeld won the boys Class AA title; Colin Martin of Fox Chapel the boys Triple-A; Carter Smith of Eden Christian the boys Single-A championship; Brianna Schwartz of Shaler the girls Class AAA crown; Alexis O’Shea of West Allegheny the girls Class AA title; and Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian the Class A crown.
D’Heaven Kelley of Washington took sixth place in boys Class AA with a time of 17:31, more than a minute slower than his personal-best of 16:29.7. So Kelley feels he has a lot more to give.
“I’ve been here three, four times and the hardest part is running through the wind,” said Kelley. “At least, there was no snow.”
Kelley has top-10 finishes in the Uniontown Invitational and Slippery Rock Invitational, was 45th at the Red, White and Blue Classic at Schenley Park and seventh in the Washington County Coaches Meet at Mingo park.
“I want to be at least in the top 20 at states,” Kelley said. “I didn’t do too well there last year. Anything would be better than last year.”
Ringgold senior Kirsten McMichael, a three-time county coaches meet champion, will make her first trip to the PIAA tournament since her freshman season after finishing 20th on the 3.1-mile course.
“The weather was perfect,” she said. “I like the cold. I started pretty strong. Last week (at the Tri-State Meet at Cooper’s Lake), it was ridiculous, wet and rainy. Last year was 95 degrees. I wouldn’t mind a happy medium.”
Fort Cherry’s Erin Allison was fifth through the first half of the girls Class A race and finished ninth overall. While most of the girls in her race were shaking from the cold, she relished it.
“I like the cold weather,” she said. “I run pretty good in it.”
Allison has had strong showings this season. The senior finished third in the Mingo Classic, fourth in the Freedom Invitational, and now third in the WPIALs. It will be her first trip to the state tournament.
“I thought I had a chance,” she said. “But in this race, anything can happen.”
Other local qualifiers were Canon-McMillan’s Ethan Linderman and Jonathan Weese, Peters Township’s Nick Wolk, and Trinity’s Shane Rumbaugh in boys Class AAA; Shawn Hilverding of Waynesburg in boys Class AA; Cody Divecchio of Burgettstown and Andrew Roszas of Chartiers-Houston in boys Class A.