COCHRANTON — The 29th annual Cardinal Classic cross country invitational looked a heck of a lot like the 28th annual Cardinal Classic.
This year’s race, held Saturday at the hill-centered course at Cochranton Elementary School, had the same boys team champion as last year, the same girls team champion as last year, and the same first-place runner in girls varsity race.
The only thing keeping yesterday’s event from turning into a total deja vu episode was the eventual front-runner in the boys
varsity race, as Saegertown’s Sam
Hetrick took first in 16:51.
Although, being just a freshman, there very well may be more repeats in Hetrick’s future.
“I was very proud. Very humbled. Very happy,” said Hetrick, who led a crew of tough runners over the finish line, including Cochranton’s Noah Bernarding in second (16:58), Meadville’s Matthew Puleio in third (17:10), and West Middlesex’s Luke Mantzell in fourth (17:13).
Hetrick was actually behind Bernarding — the 2017 Cardinal Classic winner — through the first mile or so.
“At the beginning of the hill (Bernarding) had a large lead on me,” said Hetrick. “Going up the hill I slowly closed the gap. And then at the top of the hill we were neck-and-neck. Then I just took it.”
On the plus side for the host Cardinals, they did secure the boys team title for the third straight year.
This time, the Redbirds edged out
second-place West Middlesex by three points, 52-55.
Those two, plus third-place Cambridge Springs (69 points) are expected to be three of the teams battling for the 1A title at the District 10 meet in a few weeks time.
“We looked good up in the front,” said Cochranton head coach Mark Roche. “We were mixing in with West Middlesex and Cambridge. So it was all coming down to that fourth, fifth or sixth guys.
Cochranton got the leg up (or legs up, as it were) thanks to Franklin Morris and Chase Miller finishing fifth (17:21) and sixth (17:55), Alex Jackson grabbing 10th (18:10) and Anthony Freer finishing 29th (19:15).
Cambridge Springs, which ran without one of its top runners (Elijah Mamula, who was sick) grabbed third thanks to Alec Bidwell finishing eighth (18:02), Christian Kline 11th (18:17), Hunter Spaid 12th (18:21), Bobby Moats 14th (18:22) and Corbin Lehner 24th (18:47).
“Our fifth runner, Corbin Lehner, did a really great job filling in for us,” said Cambridge head coach Cathy Shader. “That was a personal best for him.”
The Lakeview boys took fourth with 138 points, paced by Colson Jenkins in ninth (18:04) and Ethan Barrick in 23rd (18:47).
Conneaut followed in fifth place, with Jordan Kullen taking 19th in 18:41 and Nathaniel Turner taking 21st in 18:42.
Meadville, running without team leader Patrick Stevens, who got the day off; was sixth. Pulieo, Connor Zimmerman (22nd, 18:42) and Charlie Minor (25th, 18:48) each earned medals for the Bulldogs.
Hetrick’s performance boosted Saegertown into seventh place. Nate DeYoung helped, finishing 20th in 18:41.
Jamestown took 11th as a team, paced by Riley Runyon in 18th (18:40).
Maplewood was 13th overall. Walker Wheeling led the Tigers in 34th place in 19:29.
As for the girls race, it was another one like the other one.
Conneaut junior Meaera Shannon had another standout performance at the event, finishing in 19 minutes on the dot, putting her 1:18 in front of the next-fastest competitor, Titusville’s Julia Johnson (20:18).
That meant that Shannon had to do a little self-pacing to make sure her time was where she wanted it.
Asked what she thinks about when she’s all alone out on the course, she answered:
“A little bit of everything. Races like this, I just make sure that I’m in my head that I’m not slowing down, that I’m racing the clock.”
Speaking of racing the clock, when Shannon made the final turn around the school and saw the finish line clock ticking and the course record somewhat in range. So she tried to kick down the home stretch, but came in a few ticks late.
“The course record is 18:44 here, and it’s always been a big goal of mine to get that,” she said. “It didn’t happen this time.”
As for the team title at the Cardinal Classic, it once again belonged to Lakeview. In fact, it was the sixth straight for the Lady Sailors.
“Crazy girls. They’re great,” said Lakeview head coach Glenn Dosch. “The balance of getting as much out of them as you can without getting them injured or pushing them too far, that’s the tightrope that we’re walking right now.
“Like, we only ran five girls running today because we have one recovering and we had one that wasn’t feeling well, she actually left the meet today.”
Still, four of Lakeview’s five girls medaled. Claire Oliver led the way in fifth in 21:00. She was followed by Mikayla Montgomery in 14th (21:59), Aubrey Hogue in 16th (22:10) and Abby Mellon in 20th (22:47). Carly Amon finished just short of the top 25, taking 33rd in 24:46.
The Saegertown girls had a solid day, taking second as a team. Paige Fuller was the Panthers; top runner, finishing 15th in 22:02. Maddie Mondi was 19th (22:45) while Karleigh Steiner was 23rd (22:59) and Karley Price was 26th (23:18).
Shannon’s performance boosted CASH into seventh place. Chloe Fields and Natalie Humes came up just short of medal range, as the pair were 28th (23:41) and 29th (23:54), respectively.
The Cambridge Springs girls were ninth with a pair of medalists. Elizabeth Kline was sixth overall in 21:12. Lauren Klapthor took 18th in 22:42.
Maplewood was right behind Cambridge in 10th Alexis Wyant led the Tigers with a 13th-place time of 21:55.
Meadville had some individual runners in the race. Riley Fronce was 21st in 22:50. Avery Phillips was 27th in 23:38.