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Historic Day for Cardinal Cross Country at Districts

Tom Shade, Contributor

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For the first time all season the temperature hit below 60 degrees and the DCC cross country teams took full advantage of the near perfect conditions at the District Nine Championships on the legendary Ridgeway course, and performed at levels never seen before for their school at this place.

It was the first time since 1980 that DCC put two full teams of 7 runners on the field, and the first time in school history that both teams were ranked on the top half of all district competition.

The Lady Cardinals, 5th place in the 20- school field, became the highest ranked girls team since the storied 1984 championship team of Theresa Postlewaite, Jennifer Kotula, Leah Guthrie, Lori Skrzypek, and Karen Stoddard. Only Cranberry, Brookville, ECC & Brockway came ahead of the Lady Cards with Emily Williams(22:54) leading the way with a career-best run, and earning a place among DCC’s all-time top 20 post season performers since the girls program began in 1978.

“What makes Emily’s run remarkable is that she did it on a course that is more challenging than most courses we have raced all season. She has been the team leader since August, so her contribution goes well beyond individual achievement.” (Coach Shade).

Helping open the door for the historic team placement was Beth Williams(24:32) who was 2nd for DCC with a personal course record and setting the Cardinal freshman record for the district course.  In 3rd for the girls was veteran Meghan Graeca who finished up a remarkable career before being sidelined most of the season with injuries. Graeca has the DCC record for the Ridgeway course(22:37.07), set last season.

“Beth has been a reliable scorer for us all year and has a great future in cross country ahead of her. Meghan’s name has been synonymous with this sport for 4 years now, and she ends her career appropriately in post-season competition along with the dual meet wins record for the school. She really helped to build this program.”

Closing the door on the competition that allowed the girls the high rankings, and the fastest total time ever recorded by a Cardinal team on this course(2:05:54) were Liz Gankosky(26:19), Alex Ochs(27:20) who knocked off 4 minutes from the last time she raced here; Madisan Miscavish(27:39), and Michaela Armanini(29:58), all of whom broke their career or course records today. It was the first time in 37 years that all 7 girls ran under 30 minutes, with an average time of 25:39 for the first 5 runners. Teammate Mercedes Raab followed with a race in the second varsity competition of the day.

District Nine rival, Keystone, challenged the girls for 5th place, but DCC’s 6th & 7th runner broke the tie in the Cardinal’s favor. This tiebreaker emphasized the importance of the sixth and seventh runners to the teams & spectators who were unaware of the rule.

“What can you say when these girls have their best run at the year’s biggest meet? They are a close group and it seems they did not want to let each other down. It is very uplifting to see this kind of attitude, and anyone who does not think cross country is a team sport needs to be around these athletes. The team effect that the girls develop has broader benefits that extend to all aspects of their lives, well beyond the competitive field.”

The DuBois Central boys also displayed a full 7 runners for the first time since 2006, and proved to be, like the girls, the fastest boys team to ever race the Ridgeway course, and being one the few teams in school history to be ranked in the upper half of District Nine schools.

First for the Cards in 36th place was John Ritsick(19:23) who shaved off a minute since running here 3 weeks ago at the Ridgeway Invitational, and leaving him less than a second behind Andy Skraba’s school record run of 19:22.22 in 2007. Also helping DCC open the door to a historic team effort was freshman record-holder J.P. Piccirillo(19:31) who came in second for his team.

“Both John & J.P. have shown that they have done training outside of the regular season practices, and these two have gone after each other all year, which goes a long way toward helping them improve. They both deserve applaud for their success this season, and I am grateful for the confidence & belief gained through that success.”

Sealing the high ranking were Grant Norman(20:27), Lenny Swisher(21:28), John Swalligan, Shane Paisley, and Jon Schoeneman.

“The boys ran as a pretty tight pack all year, and in a big meet it makes all the difference for scoring. These guys were close as a team and that supplied the motivation. Len swisher had a nice personal record for the course, and Shane made the honor roll with his run. Grant has improved a great deal since last season and has been a help as a leader at practice. We all wish senior John (Swalligan) the best for his contributions to this sport.  We were very appreciative of Jon’s (Schoeneman) participation this year trying to juggle two sports, and even more to the girls team members who spent considerably more time despite their involvement in soccer (Gankosky, Graeca, Ochs).

“It says a lot for any student to say “yes” to cross country, a sport that offers unique challenges to athletes. There are many larger schools that cannot seem to field full teams, but that is a challenge that needs to be addressed and is part of the sport as much as training and races. We are grateful for the courage of the students who step-up because they do a great service to the sport, the school, and themselves through the way they inspire.

“Cross Country is a sport for literally everyone, regardless of natural ability, and we hope this season will help others decide to take that first, small step toward a unique and fulfilling experience. No sport offers more ways to succeed than cross country.”

Cranberry won the team championship for single ‘A’ girls, while ECC took the boys title. In ‘AA’ it was St. Marys winning the team contest for the girls, and Bradford for the boys.

The individual champion for the ‘A’ girls was Danielle Perry of Northern Potter, and Ben Hoffman of ECC for the boys. Amanda Foster of St. Marys was the girls ‘AA’ champion, as was Logan Caruso of Bradford in the boys race.

The 1984 girls were the only DCC team to ever win a district title, and no Cardinal runner has won an individual title since the sport was offered in 1969.

DCC’s mile record holder on the Lady Card track team, Sylvia Pisarchick, qualified for states for her 8th place finish at districts. She runs for the Brockway Rovers during cross country season.

Across town in ‘AAA’ it was Lauren Usaitis & Julie Marchioni of DuBois Area who qualified for the state championships at the District Six meet in Forest Hills. Usaitis becomes only the second girl in DHS history to compete at states 4 years in a row, the first being the legendary Shelia Wray of the 1978-81 seasons. Both Usaitis & Marchioni were members of the only district champion girls teams at DHS, and were once students at DCC.

DuBois Area’s Peter Foradora qualified for states in the District 10 meet at Buhl Park.

DuBois Central Catholic ends it’s 2017 season with many notable statistics that include near record numbers of participants, wins over teams not seen in many years, scores of personal & school records, post season milestones, and respect from competing schools not seen in modern times.

“It has been a season full of pleasant surprises from all involved with this great sport. I can say with a level of certainty that expectations were exceeded, and it is hoped that the athletes and their families had the same experience. We anticipate the future, and plan to step things up a notch in 2018 with thoughts going forward & upward.”

The DCC cross country banquet and awards we be on November 19, at the Villa in DuBois.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Historic Day for Cardinal Cross Country at Districts