Oil City’s Gordon Phipps was the fastest out of the gate. But twin brothers Jeremy and Jake Parsons both eventually ran Phipps down during the Maplewood boys cross country team’s tri-meet sweep of Cochranton and Oil City on Tuesday.
The Tiger girls made it a complete sweep thanks to a strong wire-to-wire performance by freshman Savannah Phillips.
“We’re happy overall,” said Maplewood head coach Dave Washousky. “It’s a good way to start. We’ve got room to improve, and time to do it.”
The Maplewood boys (2-0, 2-0 Region 3) narrowly defeated Cochranton 26-29, and beat Oil City 25-32. Cochranton (1-1, 1-1 Region 3) was a 27-34 winner over Oil City (0-2, 0-2).
“I planned on being out front from the start, but (Phipps) went pretty fast right from the beginning,” said Jeremy Parsons, a junior on the Tigers’ squad. “Then he fell off, and I just remained at a constant pace.”
Jeremy — the White Division winner at last weekend’s Big Red Invitational at West Middlesex — overtook Phipps about a mile into the race and continued to put space between himself and the Oil City harrier, finishing the loop in 16:41.
“That was my fastest of this year,” Jeremy said. “It’s a good start to the year. It was a good race.”
Jake Parsons, meanwhile, continued to trail Phipps. Then, during the second half of the course, as the lead pack passed in front of Maplewood High School, Jake passed Phipps and gained ground. Jake eventually finished second in 17:03.
“That’s the fastest I’ve ever run it, by a long shot,” he said.
Phipps was third in 17:34.
“That’s really good for (Jake),” Jeremy said. “He was probably expected to come in third, and he beat that kid from Oil City. That was good.”
Jake also trimmed 54 seconds off his 5K time at the Big Red Invitational on Saturday, during which he was third in the White Division in 17:57.
“Jeremy and Jake are both running really well right now,” said Washousky. “And I think they’re going to keep improving. I’m excited for them.”
Oil City’s Austin King finished fourth in 17:41, followed by a pair of Cochranton runners in Ryan Northcott (17:44) and Logan Herzberger (17:47).
Maplewood’s Hanz Wentz was seventh in 17:52.
“Our top three ran pretty well,” said Washousky. “Our four and five, we need a little bit of work. They held on at the end. We’ve got a mix of four or five guys that can be that four or five spot. And we really need one or two of those guys to step up.”
Maplewood’s fourth and fifth runners did just enough to give Maplewood the team victory. David Marvin (19:21) edged Cochranton’s Kyle Mudger (19:22) at the finish line by a second to take 11th place. And Jacob Alexander came in 13th (19:41).
“We saw each other this weekend at the invite down there at West Middlesex,” said Cochranton head coach Mark Roche. “So, we kind of had a feel for what we needed. (Maplewood) has a couple of really strong runners and we’re not quite there yet. So we had to break them up in the middle a little bit. So that was where my strategy came from. We had to slide a couple guys there in the middle. And we almost did it.”
Mudger’s 12th place finish was a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals.
“We’ve had him on the varsity, we’ve had him on the JV, kind of on the tail end of seventh or eighth (for the team). And he was fifth for us today. Big surprise,” Roche said.
“We knew that (Maplewood) had the advantage, being on their home course. So, we’re not pleased with losing, but we’re pleased with the effort.”
On the girls’ side, Phillips was unchallenged, finishing in 21:53, nearly a minute ahead of Cochranton’s Ariel Smith in second (22:46).
“I would have liked to be a little faster, but I guess that will come,” said Phillips. “I felt really good for the last two miles, and the last one was hard. But that’s to be expected, I guess.”
Cochranton, which had only three girls on the varsity team, also took third place with Brittany Jackson finishing in 23:14. And Katelyn Neff was fifth in 23:51.
Maplewood’s Melyssa Rea finished fourth (23:42) while teammate Rebecca Worley was sixth (24:04).
“We have a really young girls team,” said Washousky. “We have one junior. The rest are sophomores and freshmen. We have four freshmen.
“It can be a really good thing. They are very talented, a really talented crew. And they’re just learning how to run a 5K. So I think that as they get experience they’re going to do really well here in the region.”