DCC’s Ritsick and Mennetti SHINE at Ridgway Invitational Cross Country Meet


Tom Shade, Contributor

Some of the finest performances in DCC history took place at the 24-school Ridgway Invitational where school and personal records were wiped clean by the Cardinals on a cool, breezy morning.

Leading runners for their teams, Johnny Ritsick(17:36) and Jaci Mennetti(22:22) came away sharing two milestones: both broke school records for their team on the storied Ridgway course, and both placed higher than any Cardinal ever has at this contest since it began 15 years ago.

For his performance, Ritsick, in 10th place, became the first Cardinal ever to receive an award at the event. Ritsick also shattered the boy’s record for DCC by nearly 2 minutes, previously set in 2007 by Andy Skraba.

Lady Card Jaci Mennetti (30th) not only earned the best place in girl’s history, but also ran the fastest time ever recorded by a female Cardinal, covering the distance 15 seconds quicker than Meghan Graeca did in the 2016 season.

“The competition , as always, was intense here, so to an onlooker seeing some runners ahead of Jaci & Johnny they may have had the impression they were just having an average race. Getting on the school record books is no small matter, and we like to see good performances this time of year.”(Coach Shade).

The Cardinal front runners were not the only ones to put here stamp on DCC history.

J.P. Piccirillo(18:25) smashed his career record for any course by almost a minute and close to 3 minutes at Ridgway. Lifetime best runs were also achieved by JoAnne Case(26+) and Isaac Bloom.

“Ridgway is a challenging course so getting your best run here is a real sign of improvement and something to be celebrated & encouraged by.”

Also achieving course records of their own were Shane Paisley(21:23), Dylan Foster(21:33) and Dante Armanini(23:45).

Another surprise for the record books were the historic runs by Brenden Paisley(20:25) and Jordy Kosko(26:09). Paisley joined the elite all-time top 10 for all DCC runners at this course, knocking off speedster Alex Welsh from 2008, while Kosko did the same as she passed Liz Gankosky’s time from 2017.

“Both Welsh & Gankosky were notable athletes for DCC. Liz was part of the record-breaking girls team a few years ago, and Alex still holds sprinting records from Track. Brenden and Jordy create a strong middle for their teams and the scores reflect it. Jordy is balancing a very busy schedule in volleyball to help her team here and in post-season.”

The DCC teams also made their mark as the boys ended the race as the fastest Cardinal team ever to compete on this course. The Lady Cards moved into the #5 spot of all girls teams in the past.

“This was a surprise, but the numbers are real. The kids set a nice legacy to challenge the runners in the decade ahead.”

Beth Williams(26:33.6) scored just behind teammate JoAnne Case, followed by Maddy Miscavish and Michaela Armanini. Three runners for the boys established their first marks on the course: Loren Way, Aaron Gankosky, and Isaac Bloom.

“We finally had pretty good weather for competition and you could feel the excitement from the athletes & coaches alike who anticipated the good results the conditions might allow. We have some speed to develop yet, but this was a good day for DCC.”

The Punxy boys and St. Marys girls were the top teams in class AA, while Cranberry & North Clarion lead the single A.

Punxy’s Olivia Roberts won the girls race and ECC’s Ben Hoffman was the boy’s winner.

The Cardinals end the regular season when they return to ECC’s Benzinger Park on Tuesday for a 5-school District Nine dual meet finale.