RIDGWAY — The Tri-County Area enjoyed a strong showing in the Class A boys race Saturday at the District 9 Cross Country Championships, which returned to the Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School course after a one-year hiatus to Brookville in 2020 because of COVID-19.
While the area crowned no champion, Elk County Catholic put together a strong effort to finish second in the team standings to Cranberry, 52-60, to qualify its entire squad for the PIAA Championships this Saturday in Hershey.
The state qualifiers didn’t end there, though, as six of the 10 individuals (runners not top two teams) who punched their tickets to the PIAA meet hailed from schools in the Tri-County Area. Brockway and Clarion-Limestone spearheaded that effort with two state qualifiers each.
Elk County powered the local contingent’s showing as it placed three runners in the Top 7, led by junior Adam Straub who crossed the finish line in third with a time of 18:21. Coudersport sophomore Kevin Sherry won the Class A title with a 17:36, while Cranberry senior Matt Woolcock was second at 17:57.
Woolcock also was the runner-up a year ago in Brookville, while Sherry was third. Straub was a distant 14th a year ago, although his time was similar on a much better day to run compared to Saturday’s muddy conditions.
Elk County senior Alex Miller wasn’t far behind Straub on Saturday, placing fourth (18:29) eight seconds off Straub’s time. Junior Julian Funaki (18:44) rounded out ECC’s trio of Top 10 finishers as he placed seventh after outsprinting Brockway senior Micah Williamson to the line by a second.
There was then a gap until a pair of Crusaders crossed the line within a second of each other. Senior Tom Dippold (19:39) came in 24th, while sophomore Lucas Polaski (19:40) was 25th. Those five rounded out the Crusders’ team scoring. Also competing for ECC was sophomore Bobby Urmann (30th, 19:52) and freshman Aaron Lanzel (40th, 20:14).
As for the individual qualifiers, Ridgway sophomore Eli Schrieber headlined the local contingent was he came away with a fifth-place finish on his home course with a time of 18:34. He was the lone Elker to compete.
Williamson (18:45) was next among that group as he crossed in eighth to become the Rovers’ first state qualifier since Dakota Lawton in 2012. Williamson won’t be making trip alone though, as Brockway got an unprecedented second qualifier during the tenure of head coach Andrea Oknefski when senior Landon Schmader (19:17) finished 17th and grabbed the eighth individual berth.
Despite the pair of Top 20 finishes, the Rovers were just eighth in the team standings (223) as its other four runners (3 of which scored) finished 69th or below. Freshman Jed Manno was the best of that group placing 69th (21:50). Sophomore Aiden Shifter (80th, 22:57), freshman Tristan Coder (87th, 24:51) and sophomore Andrew Williams (89th, 26:50) also ran on the day.
Clarion-Limestone rode its two state qualifiers to a third-place team finish (113 points) behind Cranberry and ECC. Cranberry had its top six runners all finish 16th or better.
Freshman Logan Lutz fueled the Lions in his first district meet as he placed 10th (18:45), outkicking Brookville senior Calvin Doolittle to the line by two seconds to grab a Top 10 spot. Sophomore Ty Rankin came in 18th (19:18) to earn his first trip to states as well after placing 23rd a year ago.
The Lions nearly had a third runner in the Top 20, as sophomore Jack Craig placed 22nd in 19:24. Craig was the second runner outside of the 10 individual state berths. Seniors Corbin Coulson (20:08) and Cody Whitling (20:13) were 36th and 39th, respectively, with sophomore Colton Keihl crossing in 43rd.
Doolittle (11th, 18:47) was Brookville’s only runner in the Top 25 as he reached states again. The Raiders
Sophomore teammate Alec Geer (19:43) was 28th, while sophomore Jack Gill (19:58) finished 33rd. Also factoring in the Raiders’ team scoring were freshman Cole Householder (55th, 21:05) and sophomore Ian Clowes (56th, 21:01). Freshman Jacob Murdock (21:19) was right behind that duo in 58th, while sophomore Brady Means (21:31) was 60th.
DuBois Central Cartholic’s lone entrant, Angelo Piccirrillo placed 46th with a time of 20:36.