Chartiers Valley runners set sights on qualifying for PIAA meet

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Thursday, September 22, 2022 | 8:25 PM


The Chartiers Valley boys and girls cross country teams are not shy about their goals this fall.

“Our goal for the boys and girls team is to challenge for a state qualifying spot,” Chartiers Valley cross country coach Lori Poe said. “If we keep working hard and improving throughout the season, we should be in the position to fight for one of the team spots.”

Poe is in her 22nd season as cross country coach. The Ohio State grad has an impressive resume, having been named the Pennsylvania Track Coach of the Year and National Women’s and Sports Day Coach of the Year.

She also is a registered dietitian nutritionist and specializes in sports and wellness nutrition and, along with her husband Dave, they own The Tandem Connection bicycle shop on the Montour Trail.

As section play begins in WPIAL cross country, Poe likes what she sees from the Colts runners.

“Both the boys and girls team have a mix of young talent and veterans with experience who should help lead the teams,” Poe said. “We need to work on running in a pack and decreasing the time spread from our No. 1 runner to our fifth runner to be successful.”

The teams have already enjoyed some early success.

“Our team had a strong summer of training,” Poe said. “We competed in a couple early invites, including the Marty Uher Cross Country Invitational at Cal (Pa.) and Red, White and Blue Invite at White Oak Park. Overall, I thought the team ran well at both meets as we ran in the triple-A competition but will compete in the double-A competition for section competition and the WPIAL team championship.

“The Marty Uher Invite gives us a chance to see the WPIAL championship course and see what we need to do to improve toward the end of the season. The Red, White and Blue Invite is a flat fast course with tons of teams and super competitive races, so new personal records were set and our athletes gain confidence from the fast race.”

While there is emphasis on the Chartiers Valley team, some of the individual runners have enjoyed success on this hills in 2022.

For the girls, sophomore Lilah Turnbull finished fourth at the Marty Uher Invite and was ninth at Red, White and Blue. Junior Eva Kulbago was 14th at Marty Uhrer and 29th at Red, White and Blue.

“Lilah was seventh at last year’s WPIAL championship race and 25th at the PIAA finals,” Poe said. “She will be in the hunt for a top five finish this year at the WPIAL’s. Junior Eva Kulbago was 13th last year at the WPIAL championship and will be in the hunt for a top 10 finish this year.

“Sophomore Juliana Betts and junior Rachel White return from last year’s top five and are a strong core to our team.”

The boys are led by senior Santo Riccardi and sophomore Eric Wilson. Wilson was 10th at Marty Uher and 44th at Red, White and Blue, while Riccardi was 15th and 42nd in those races.

“They have been working well together pushing each other in practices and races,” Poe said. “I look for them to continue that strong one-two punch up front leading the team.”

Sophomore Sebastian Crosby, junior Landon Smith and sophomore Brady Laughlin have rounded the top five for the Colts.

With summer over and autumn upon us, it won’t be long before cool, crisp days are the norm. Poe hopes her Colts teams can be galloping into the district championships in late October.

“I would like both the boys and girls team to be competitive in section competition, continue improving as a team with our top seven running as a tight pack with fast times and a short spread from 1-5,” she said. “I believe with each race, we are gaining experience and confidence, which helps our athletes see what they need to do to be competitive in the postseason.”

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