Cardinals Keep High Rankings in Cross Country

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Cardinals Keep High Rankings in Cross Country

Tom Shade and Rachel Aravich

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It would be hard to imagine weather & course conditions more challenging than the 2018 District Nine Championships at the famous Ridgway course. Although the season was marked by excessive rain, mud, water or heat at literally every competition, it seemed apparent that Mother Nature reserved Her greatest test for last.

“The cold rain and muddy/soggy ground today were probably the toughest I’ve seen for any district meet, even more grueling than the 2011 snow storm. From the start we saw the runners put aside their fears and get the job done beginning with warmups, the starting line, into the trials of the race. Cross country competitions are challenging even in the best conditions, and there was not a coach or parent that witnessed the race without pride in what they saw here. It is proof yet again that this sport attracts the very best young people in our schools.”(Coach Shade)

For the second consecutive year, and the only two times in DCC history, both Cardinal teams earned their place in the top half of District Nine schools as the Lady Cards placed 7th of 19 schools, while the boys were 9th among the 20 schools competing in their class.

“The boys were in 11th place for the first 2000 meters of the race but summoned the will to get ahead of Brockway & North Clarion at the finish. By contrast, the girls kept the 7th place position the entire race.”

The significance of DCC fielding two full teams of 7 runners is often overlooked outside of the cross country community. Our athletes answered the call to be part of a uniquely demanding activity, and the results of their decision sets them apart in school history. Through their belief they are part of the process that is putting this program in the right direction. Many spectators today were unaware that four of the teams they ran against are ranked among the top 6 teams in Pennsylvania, and at one time these teams were at the level DCC is now. I am hopeful that the 19 participants of this season will inspire further progression for the program.”

The Lady Cards, led by senior Emily Williams’(24:00) weather-defying season PR on the course, achieved the all-time #2 ranking for any Cardinal girls team racing at this venue, putting themselves behind only the 2017 girls who placed 5th last season.

“Emily has been a noted leader and athlete for us. Her running technique and efficiency has improved to an art form, and is instructive to see. She deserves credit for her contributions to this sport over the last 3 years.”

Williams was 22nd of 88 runners, just 5 places away from qualifying for states, something only 3 girls have done since 1978, along with the 1984 district champion girls team. Williams came the closest to qualifying since Theresa Postlewaite did so in 1987.

There were other DCC girls who had notable performances in the swampy, wet, cold environment.

Alex Ochs(27:21) had her best showing of the season, and perhaps her career, as she shattered her season PR for the course by 2 minutes and nearly broke her lifetime mark despite the extremely slow conditions. Ochs came in second for the Lady Cards, her highest place this season.

“This is not the first time that Alex has impressed. She is very conscientious and dedicated and I have seen this same great attitude and focus in her academics and on the track team in the Spring. She came here to race, and without any excuses. I feel this was the finest work of her career so far, and it was inspiring to see her in action”

Coming in third for DCC was Beth Williams, just 12 seconds off her course record, followed by another season record for the course by JoAnne Case(28:42). Madisan Miscavish wrapped up the regular scoring as the 5th DCC runner, with Madi Gill just missing her course mark by one second for 6th, and Michaela Armanini protecting the team’s place at 7th.

“One thing that is truly indicated by the times we saw today was the degree of readiness the girls had for this race. They were running at higher levels with the expectation to break records, and some actually did so in extremely unfavorable conditions. Their times showed more improvement, as promised, than other teams, and they can be proud that they did things right in their preparations.”

The Cardinal boys were led by J.P. Piccirillo(20:18) who earned a 25th place in the 108 man field, just 4 places(20 seconds) from a state berth, the closest any boy has come in nearly 20 years since Matt Gabler qualified in the late 1990s. Only 4 DCC boys have qualified in 50 years of DCC cross country.

“J.P took that competitive attitude that we see so often in practice, mixed with a little faith in himself, to have a great race. I believe that if J.P. had the race over he would find a way to make up those 20 seconds.”

Johnny Ritsick, this season’s dual meet leader, came in second for DCC, followed by Lenny Swisher, Dylan Foster, Shane Paisley, Dante Armanini and Jon Schoeneman. Team captain, senior Grant Norman, was unable to run due to an early season injury.

“It should be noted that the boys may have had an even worse course condition due to two races that went before them. They shored up the courage equal to the task and put their team in the school’s history books with a good place among the 19 other schools”

Across town it was DuBois Area who supplied the Class ‘AA’ boy’s champion in McKellen Jaramillo, a transfer from Danville’s team and the first boys team champion from DHS since 2008 when Bud Plazenski did the same, then went on to medal at states.

Bradford won the boys team title for ‘AA’, as did St. Marys girls for their third straight title. In Single ‘A’ it was ECC winning the boys title and Cranberry the girls.

DuBois Central Catholic concludes 50 years of cross country this season with near record numbers of participants in the program, and two consecutive years of full teams for both squads along with the positive dynamics that naturally flow from more involvement in the sport.

“Cross country in the DuBois community is alive and well, in fact it is healthier than it has ever been between both local schools. The change has come over the last decade, not without some struggle and growing pains. However, it is satisfying to see all the benefits flowing outward to so many in a sport with such tangible, lifelong rewards”

The annual cross country banquet and awards celebration will be on November 11 at the Bellamauro, in Reynoldsville. Ceremonies begin at 6pm.