‘Mission Accomplished’ For DCC Cross Country – Johnny Ritsick Moves on to States


Tom Shade, Contributor

“This is where we wanted to be since August, and it came down to the DCC students stepping up to be part of the cross country program. Every single runner on both teams were crucial in keeping the high status DCC enjoys in the district, and it remains a major goal for the program as we inch forward. Make no mistake: it is a demanding goal at this stage. The teammates are to be commended for this achievement.”(Coach Shade)

Johnny Ritsick, season MVP for the boys, led the Cardinals to the fastest time ever seen by any DCC squad on the Ridgway course, and in the process became the first state qualifier since 1999 when Matt Gabler made the cut. Ritsick’s historic race also earned him a 6th place in the single ‘A’ contest, creating a 3-way tie for the best place at Districts in school history with Mark Madere(1976) and Ed Pisarchick(1985). No DCC runner has ever won a district championship, but Ritsick led the field for a time in the first mile, exchanging various places from 1st to 8th throughout the race.

“Johnny’s  4-year career has been one of growing confidence and faith. After the first few meets this season there was high expectation that he would qualify, and those feelings grew stronger with each competition. I am certain that if he had one more season he wouldn’t settle for anything less than the championship. The whole cross country community has been impressed with his success.”

The rest of the record-setting boys team included J.P. Piccirillo, Shane Paisley, Brenden Paisley, Dylan Foster, Angelo Piccirillo, and Dante Armanini. Personal records were achieved by Shane Paisley(20:34), Dylan Foster(21:31) and Dante Armanini, helping the boys run an average 19:49, a DCC record at Ridgway.

“Without the excellent runs by every boy their record time and good placement would not have happened. We have seen before the importance of each runner’s performance, just as it was today.”

The Lady Cards also had a notable team performance, just seconds away from the record set by the 2017 girls, and second all-time in school history at Ridgway.

Once again it was Jaci Mennetti leading the girls, followed by Beth Williams, Maddie Miscavish, JoAnne Case, Jordy Kosko, Alex Ochs, and Michaela Armanini. Miscavish, a senior, had her best run ever at Ridgway(26:44) in the memorable team effort.

“The girls team performance came as a result of solid running, but also a few factors that were not entirely expected. We had teammates running who were fighting injuries, one without my knowledge at all, and participation from Jordy Kosko who is balancing a full-time volleyball schedule in the playoff season. These girls went a bit beyond what was expected of them in their desire to compete for their team and school. No one would have blamed them for not competing today. When I asked one of the girls why they ran injured she told me that she would never think of missing the district meet, and the other girl was working extra hard outside of practice, like champions always do. The unique spirit found in cross country runners never ceases to amaze, and the meet officials made note of this at the coach’s meeting, and during the awards ceremony.”

The Clarion girls took the team title as did the Cranberry boys team. Top female runner in Class ‘A’ was Cheyenne Mehl of Oswayo Valley, and Nate Lerch of Clarion was the top male.

The Cardinals conclude the 2019 season leaving behind many historic milestones in both team and individual categories.

The PIAA state Championships will be held at the famous Hershey course on Saturday, November 2. The Class ‘A’ boys race begins at 11:45am.