WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — After a little more than three miles of running, Meadville senior Patrick Stevens came charging across the finish line like a bear was chasing him. (Note: There was nothing behind him but a long stretch of green grass.)
After he grabbed the No. 1 stick, Meadville coach Heather Paris said to him sarcastically: “Real relaxing day, huh?”
“Yeah,” said Stevens later, “they wanted me to take it easy today. I had a hard weekend. I ran a sub-16 for the first time (while at the Grove City Invitational). We’re going to another meet this weekend.
“But I got to that 2-mile mark and I felt pretty good. And coach was yelling, ‘Go for it again.’ So, that’s what I did.”
Stevens didn’t break the 16-minute barrier as he’d hoped. But he did put on a show for his final meet at home, breaking his own course record with a time of 16:23, winning the final mega meet of the year in Region 6.
“A couple minutes before the race, my dad came up and said, ‘This is it. This is your last race at home.’ So that hit me hard. It’s kind of sad to see the last four years go by like that. But it was a good one to have for your last meet.”
Stevens’ time helped Meadville win the day’s dual meet against Erie. And in the other boys’ dual, Cathedral Prep defeated McDowell 26-30.
That means that Meadville, McDowell and Prep all finish the season at 2-1 in the region, since Meadville had beaten Prep earlier this season, and McDowell had beaten Meadville
Furthermore, that means that Meadville is a repeat league champion, sharing this year’s honor with the other two schools.
“We kinda back-doored our way into it,” said Meadville head coach Chuck Jones. “Prep was down a guy when we had them and I think that made a difference. But we got it. We earned it. And we’re happy. If you would have looked at us at the beginning of the year you would not have given us a chance to be in the region, especially being the only Double-A team in a Triple-A region. But I thought we held our own well.”
Meadville was helped along to Tuesday’s win by sophomore Matt Pulieo. He spent much of the race in a pack with Prep’s top two runners and McDowell’s top two.
Coming into the final chute, Pulieo was three wide with Prep’s Cody Klein and McDowell’s Christian Mattern. Those two stepped in front of Pulieo at the line. Kline was second, Mattern was third and Pulieo was fourth all in 16:48.
“Matt has come a long way,” said Jones. “With the injury that crippled him a year ago he’s come back slowly and he’s been taking little steps forward. And I thought today he broke through. I thought that was the kind of race that Matt is capable of. He’s starting to be confident in his races. We have two and a half weeks until districts. And I think he’ll be ready by then.”
Also pushing Meadville to the win was Charlie Minor in 14th (18:11) and Conner Zimmerman in 16th (18:17), while Teddy Ernst rounded out the Bulldogs’ top five in 28th (19:30).
In the girls race, McDowell defeated Villa Maria 24-31 to claim the Region 6 title with a record of 3-0. Villa finishes second with a record of 2-1. Erie got the win over an incomplete Meadville team 15-50.
Villa’s Sarah Clark won the girls race in a time of 19:57, followed by McDowell’s Kayla Kramer in second in 20:16.
Meadville was led by Erica Peters who was fourth in 21:05. Riley Fronce finished 11th in 22:05. Avery Phillips was 19th in 23:03.