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October 8, 2013

Cross Country: Panther boys, Spa girls win region titles

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — The more things change, the more things seem to stay the same for the Saegertown boys cross country team, which completed its sixth consecutive season with an unbeaten region record.

In years past, the Panthers gathered their wins with the benefit of one runner that could just blow most everybody else away, like Nate Tallada or Hunter Johnston.

This season, while the Cats still do posses some terrific runners, the key word for the team has been depth. A perfect example of that came Tuesday as Saegertown picked up the sweep over Cambridge Springs (22-33) and Conneaut (17-40) and the 2013 Region 3 title, even while missing three key pieces to the puzzle.

“To have three guys out (Tuesday) and still do what we did, it’s really nice,” said Saegertown head coach Bill Hetrick. “I’ve never had depth, never. I’ve never had an eight or a nine who could run with our top guys.

“I’m really proud of our team. I have to say that.”

Meanwhile on the girls side, Cambridge Springs returned to the top of the heap in Region 3. The Lady Blue Devils had last won the region in 2011. Last year, the trophy went to Maplewood. But yesterday, the Spa girls (8-0) grabbed the title back with a 20-37 victory over formerly undefeated Conneaut (7-1) and a forfeit victory over Saegertown.

“My girls have been running really strong,” said head coach Cathy Shader. “There was a slight concern (about Tuesday’s meet), but I was pretty confident going in.”

Barclay leads depleted Panthers

For most teams, being without three of its top runners would be cause for concern.

However, the Saegertown boys cross country squad is not most teams.

Missing for the Panthers yesterday was their usual No. 1 runner, Morgan Schenberg, who was ill; Matt Schenberg, who is usually among the team’s top three or four but who was playing in a soccer match with the Saegertown boys team; and fellow lead-pack runner Alex Barclay, who is recovering from a recent illness.

Saegertown had little reason to worry, however. The Cats  rolled.

“To place four in the top five with Morgan and Matt and Alex missing is a big deal for us,” said Hetrick. “That really shows our depth, which bodes well for districts. I’m really looking forward to that race. Hopefully we’ll have at least two of them with us that day.”

The Panthers’ Brendon Barclay led the field yesterday with a first-place time of 17:10.

“Brendon really wanted to show himself today, and he did. He ran very well,” said Hetrick.

Fellow Panther Brad Amy finished second in 17:29, overtaking Cambridge Springs freshman Connor Walsh (17:30) in an exciting sprint across the final stretch.

“What a great finish,” said Hetrick. “What a great finish for a race.”

Then Saegertown grabbed the fourth and fifth spots as Wyatt Fleischer (17:51) and Garrett Johnston (17:52) out-kicked Conneaut’s Christian Ladebu over the final 50 yards.

Saegertown’s fifth runner was Chris Guy, who finished 12th overall in 19:34.

Also in yesterday’s boys race, Cambridge Springs managed to beat out Conneaut 22-39.

Cambridge finishes the regular season with a record of 4-4. Conneaut ends the year at 0-8.

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