By Lisa Byers
LISA BYERS/Meadville Tribune
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS —
The Maplewood boys cross country team went into Saturday’s Region 3 Invitational with something to prove.
Saegertown and Maplewood met just once during the dual meet season. And that matchup, despite Maplewood sweeping the top two spots, went to the Panthers by a mere seven points.
“The meet we had earlier this season with Saegertown, they got some kids in before our third person,” Maplewood’s Jeremy Parsons said. “So we wanted to show them that our third runner can run with us. And we did. We got them.”
That they did.
Maplewood, led by Jeremy Parson’s first place finish in 16:43.1, swept the top three spots yesterday at Cambridge Springs High School. Jake Parsons finished second (16:52.0) followed by Hanz Wentz in third (17:00.7), who finished seventh at that aforementioned Region 3 tri-meet earlier this year.
But … As Saegertown has shown all year long, that depth runs pretty deep.
The Panthers placed five of their runners in the top 13 on their way to the Region 3 Invitational title. Brendon Barclay led the Panthers with a fourth place finish in 17:20.5, next was Brad Amy in eighth place (17:43.4) followed by Morgan Schenberg, who is still getting his strength back following an illness, in 11th (17:55.5), Wyatt Fleischer in 12th (18:04.8) and Garrett Johnston in 13th (18:06.8).
The top seven finishers were named first team All-Region 2. The next seven finishers were named to the second team.
“Maplewood’s runners are all state qualifiers and probably state medalists,” Saegertown coach Bill Hetrick said. “They are that good. Fortunately, we have a lot of depth on our team.
“We were missing a couple of our runners (yesterday) and my top runner was sick, so to come out and win shows our depth. The kids really bond well and really run well as a team and that’s what it was all about (yesterday).”
The Tigers made it close, though. Saegertown won the meet by a mere four points over Maplewood (48-52). Cochranton was next with 81 points, followed by Cambridge Springs (102), Oil City (108), Rocky Grove (150), Titusville (152), Franklin (164) and Conneaut (178).
“Going into the season we knew Saegertown would be a really strong team,” Jeremy Parsons said. “We were hoping to get our No. 4 and 5 runners up so we could beat them as a team. (Yesterday) we weren’t able to do it.
“But to get 1, 2, 3 against the second ranked team in the state is quite a feat.”
Cambridge Springs’ Connor Walsh also made the first team with a sixth place finish (17:32.8). Conneaut’s Christian Ladebu and Cochranton’s Logan Herzberger and Nathan Kline earned second team status.
Reilly Walsh has had some kind of season. And she showed no signs of letting up Saturday morning. Neither did her teammates.
Walsh dominated the field at the Region 3 Invitational to capture the varsity girls title with a time of 20:05.5.
The Lady Blue Devils placed six runners in the top 14 and beat Maplewood in the team race by 48 points (31-59).
“I was going for my record but I missed it by a little bit,” Walsh said. “That’s okay.”
Rocky Grove’s Maggie Prorok took second followed by Walsh’s teammate Olivia Mamula in third.
“We’ve been doing a ton of hills at intervals the last two weeks,” Mamula said. “We were really trying to work it because we knew had home course for a reason.”
The fourth and fifth place battle between Conneaut’s Brooke Phelps and Maplewood’s Savannah Phillips was intense.
Cambridge Springs’ cross country course winds up behind the high school softball field and brings the runners down a hill out of the woods three times. At one point, Phelps had a decent lead over Phillips. Then it was Phillips ahead of Phelps.
When they came to the final stretch, the pair were neck and neck. The two collided at the finish sending Phillips to the muddy ground. Phelps leaped over Phillips to take fourth by .6 seconds.
The top five finishers were separated by just one minute and nine seconds, which should set up quite the showing at District 10 championships on Saturday at Buhl Park in Sharon. Conneaut is Class AA and Maplewood Class A, however, so Phelps and Phillips will not get another shot.
Maplewood’s Abby Martinson finished seventh to earn first team all-region. Cambridge Springs’ Sadie Brown, Madison Klemm, Kierstin Skelton and Hayley Brown earned second team all-region with their top 14 finishes as did Saegertown’s Breanna Ferguson.