By Pete Chiodo
It’s a testament to just how deep the talent pool goes for the Saegertown boys cross country team that it can compete in an invitational, and do it without two of its better runners, and still crush it.
The Panthers were the top boys squad at Saturday’s 23rd annual Cardinal Classic Invitational, held at the Cochranton Elementary School course.
The Panthers were missing Matt Schenberg, who played in a match with Saegertown’s soccer team on Saturday; and Alex Barclay, who was ill. Yet, the Cats harriers still had five runners finish in the top 20 overall and couldn’t be touched in the team standings, finishing with 43 points to pace West Middlesex (109), Seneca (128), Mercyhurst Prep (146) and Hickory (190).
“We were worried about Mercyhurst Prep. We were worried about West Middlesex. Seneca is a team on the rise,” said Bill Hetrick, Saegertown’s head coach. “We were hoping to come down here and be in the top three, to be honest, with two of our top five out. We were hoping to have a chance at winning. But it was a great day. They really stepped up.”
In the girls’ race, West Middlesex was first with 72 points, leading Hickory (91), Meadville (103), Mercyhurst Prep (119) and Cambridge Springs (131) in the top five spots.
Curtain claims first
The boys race was won by Mercyhurst Prep’s Sebastian Curtin, who clocked a 16:03.
After him came a pair of Saegertown runners in Morgan Schenberg (16:17) and Brendon Barclay (16:36).
“I got second in the first mile and then just kept maintaining that position through the whole race,” said Schenberg.
Catching Curtain was another matter, however.
“Yeah, he’s pretty good,” Schenberg said. “He took off fast in the beginning and that was the race right there.”
Fresh of Tuesday’s overall win in a dual against Meadville, Central Tech’s Bobby Danielson was fourth in 17:01. Then came Saegertown’s Brad Amy in fifth in 17:04.
Saegertown’s Wyatt Fleischer added a 13th-place run (17:20) and Garrett Johnston rounded out the Panthers’ top five with a 20th-place performance (17:39).
“That was what our race was this week,” said Hetrick. “Our Nos. 4 and 5 were both gone for various reasons. So our 6 and 7 became our 4 and 5. And Garrett Johnston was our No. 5 and he killed it. He ran it and took 20th. When your fifth guy is taking 20th and he’s normally your seventh guy, that’s awesome.”
The host Cochranton boys finished in seventh place with 202 points. Logan Herzberger was the top Cardinals’ runner with a time of 17:11, good for ninth place. Nathan Lindeman came in 31st (18:06).
Cambridge Springs was eighth with 232 points, paced by Connor Walsh in the 11th spot in a time of 17:13. Steele Henderson was 32nd (18:06).
Meadville took 10th place in the team standings. Matt Svetz led the Bulldogs with a time of 17:19, placing him 12th. Louis McUmber was 38th (18:18).
Jamestown was 13th as a team. Christian McElhaney claimed the 25th spot with a time of 17:54 while Caleb Bickel was two spots behind in a time of 17:58.
Conneaut’s top runner was Christian Ladebu in 16th (17:22). The Eagles were 16th as a team.
WM’s White wins girls race
West Middlesex’s Kristen White was the first to the finish line in yesterday’s girls’ event, finishing the loop in 19:35.
The Big Reds had a good group overall, with Chloe Tyillian in third (19:53), Alyson Pierce in 13th (20:49), Anna Zrile in 23rd (21:38) and Jordan Aubel in 32nd (22:23).
Not far behind White, however, was Cambridge Springs’ Reilly Walsh, who was second in 19:42, just seven seconds off the Big Reds leader.
“I actually came in second here last year,” said Walsh, “and had a time of 19:44, so I beat my time by (couple) seconds, so I’m happy with it. It was good.”
Cambridge also got some team points out of Olivia Mamula (14th, 20:51) and Sadie Brown (29th, 22:04).
The Meadville girls also boasted a nice showing as a team.
“It was a good effort,” said MASH head coach Chuck Jones. “You’re starting to get a feel for the teams that are going to be involved in that second place spot in the district to get to states. Hickory is one of them, General McLane, Grove City, ourselves. Villa is probably heads and tails better than anyone in the district. But every time we compete head-to-head with one of those teams it tells us what we have to do to prepare to make that run at the end of the year.”
Paige Yoder led the Lady Bulldogs with a fifth-place finish of 20:21 while Meredith (Mimi) Prather was seventh in 20:26.
“Both of them are very strong freshmen,” said Jones.
MASH also had a well-place 3-4-5 group with Abbey Peters at 27th (21:51), Libby Volna at 31st (22:14) and Sammy Whitney at 33rd (22:26).
Conneaut finished eighth as a team. Brooke Phelps had a nice late charge while passing a couple runners down the home stretch on her way to 21st place time of 21:32.
Other area finishers include Lakeview’s Andrea McConnell (28th, 21:55), Saegertown’s Breanna Ferguson (39th, 22:37) and Jamestown’s Lindsey Anderson (40th, 22:37).