By Pete Chiodo
2013 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year: Jeremy Parsons
School: Maplewood High School
Vitals: For starters, Parsons won every single event he ran in during the regular season, including all four Region 3 tri-meets, a few invitationals (West Middlesex, Sharpsville and Franklin), the small school division at the McQuaid Invitational in Rochester, N.Y., and the Region 3 Invitational at Cambridge Springs. He set three course records, that we know of, during that time — at Conneaut (14:36), Maplewood (16:11) and Cambridge Springs (16:43). Then he went on to finish second at the District 10 Class A meet, and added a second place finish at the PIAA Class A championship meet, which ranks among the best finishes for a Crawford County runner in more than four decades (Meadville’s Tom Fulton was a second-place finisher back in 1971.)
Season highlights: Parsons had a season full of highlights. However, his brightest happens to have followed his biggest disappointment of the year. At the District 10 championship meet, Parsons had his season-long win streak snapped when he was beat to the finish line by Mercyhurst Prep’s Sebastian Curtin, who took the Class A crown with a lightning fast time of 15:57. Curtin passed Parsons over the final half-mile to deny the Tigers’ harrier, who finished in a still-impressive time of 16:19, his second-straight D-10 title. A week later, Parsons was in Hershey for the PIAA Class A meet. It was the last run of his high school career, and he made it a good one. Parsons blazed the first mile in 4:40, and did battle the whole time with top-notch junior Griffin Molino of South Williamsport. Molino eventually pulled away for the win in 15:54. But Parsons took second in 16:25. In third was Curtin in 16:33.
What the coach says: “What speaks very well about Jeremy is that he came back and beat Curtin at states the very next week,” said Maplewood head coach Dave Washousky. “He didn’t look back. He ran as hard as could and he went for the win. That really impressed me about Jeremy’s character. ... He did everything he could to give himself a shot to win states. To be in the lead for most of the state course the way he did was very impressive. The kid that won it qualified for the Nike (Cross) Nationals. He’s one of the best kids in Pennsylvania, if not the best, and Jeremy led him through the two-mile mark. ... I think he knew that he gave it everything he had. He was completely gassed. No regrets. ... He’s going to run in college. He’s the best runner that I have coached or even ran along side of, in college even. He’s a special athlete. He’s got a level of talent that can really take him far. I think going to be exciting to watch. I think he can be an All-American.”
What we say: It’s one thing to say that Jeremy Parsons stood out this year. It’s quite another when you consider what an amazing year it was for cross country in Crawford County. The area boasted its first every team cross country champ in Saegertown, which was loaded with outstanding runners, like Morgan Schenberg and Brendon Barclay and Bard Amy, all state place-winners. Cochranton had a couple strong runners (Logan Herzberger and Nate Kline). Meadville had a couple good runners (Kyle Rose and Matt Svetz), Conneaut had its first state runner (Christian Ladebu). And, let’s not forget, Maplewood itself had perhaps the strongest top three of any of these teams. Not only did they have Hanz Wentz, who took 19th at states for his own medal, but they also had Jeremy’s twin brother, Jake. Heck, if it weren’t Jeremy, Jake would be a very likely choice Runner of the Year after he took third at districts, sixth at states and finished second to Jeremy in all of those region races. The bottom line is, to win the Cross Country Runner of the Year honor this year, that runner was going to have to be pretty darn good. Maplewood’s Jeremy Parsons was pretty darn good.