Brownsville’s Quarzo sisters celebrate, Moon’s Mia Cochran pulls off shocker at WPIAL cross country meet

Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 11:20 PM

Gionna Quarzo of Brownsville has made her name on the track.

At the WPIAL Cross Country Championships at Cal (Pa.) on Thursday, she shined on the hilly, muddy course to capture her first cross country title in Class AA.

Hot on her trail was her freshman sister Jolena, who placed second.

During her career, Gionna Quarzo and Quaker Valley senior Annie Wicker had some great battles. This was the first time Quarzo got Wicker in cross country. Wicker actually finished fourth.

Wicker had edged Quarzo for the title the previous two seasons.

“I’m more confident on the track, but today I focused on getting the win,” Quarzo said. “I didn’t want to push too hard because I knew Annie was going to push me. I’m so happy for Jolena. I knew it was either her or Annie coming on strong.”

Gionna’s time was 18 minutes, 56 seconds and Jolena’s 19:38. Finishing third was South Fayette sophomore Lauren Iagnemma (19:49) and then Wicker (20:01).

Because the Quarzos live so close to the course, they do some hill training.

“I never expected to finish second,” Jolena Quarzo said. “Knowing this course helped me out a lot.”

The team title in Class AA title went to South Fayette, which finished with 51 points. Greensburg Salem was second with 111 and Knoch third with 131.

All the qualifiers head to Hershey to compete in the PIAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2.

Greensburg Salem cross country coach Nathan Snider couldn’t ask for a better effort from his team.

“I knew we couldn’t beat South Fayette,” Snider said. “They are top three in the state. But I knew if we could do the best we could and had a good run we’d be in the mix. It was exciting.”

The Class A girls race turned into a battle for survival.

After the race, Greensburg Central Catholic sophomore Corinn Brewer and numerous other runners were treated in the medical tent. At least one runner was taken to the hospital.

The winner was OLSH senior Haley Hamilton, who won in 2017. Last year’s winner, Shenango junior Carmen Medvit, started too quickly and wasn’t able to finish.

North Catholic sophomore Alaina Hicks was second and teammate Julie Zalenski was third.

Vincentian Academy was the team champion with 104 points and OLSH was next with 112. It was its fifth consecutive title.

“Winning this is awesome,” Hamilton said. “I like to go out quick, but today (I waited until) I got to the top of the hill to kick it.”

Hamilton said she made her big push about the two-mile mark.

“This is a tough course,” Hamilton said. “I thought the weather was good for me. It was special winning this my sophomore year, but this was a surprise also. I never expected to win.”

There was a surprise of sorts in Class AAA.

Favorite Emily Carter of Bethel Park was outrun by Moon sophomore Mia Cochran, who ran an 18:14. North Allegheny senior Hannah Lindgren was second, running an 18:59 and Carter, who easily won the Tri-State Track Coaches Association meet at Cal on Oct. 17, was third with a time of 19:04.

The team title went to North Allegheny with 42 points. Seneca Valley was second with an 89 points and Upper St. Clair was third with 122.

Cochran said she gained confidence when she beat Carter earlier this season.

“Going through the race, I knew I had to push the pace,” Cochran said. “Once I crested the hill, I knew had had to go as hard as I could and get it to the finish.

“My strategy was to stay on Emily and then go as hard as I could. I felt I had a better kick than her.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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