Chartiers Valley’s Tarr aims for 3rd straight trip to PIAA meet
By: Chuck Curti
Saturday, August 5, 2017 | 12:21 AM
For the past two seasons, the Chartiers Valley boys cross country team has come up just short of a PIAA qualifying spot. They will look to rectify that this season with an experienced group led by senior Czar Tarr.
Tarr is a two-time PIAA qualifier who placed ninth in the WPIAL Class AAA meet a year ago.
The No. 2 and 3 spots likely will flip between junior Elias Zajicek and senior Mark Golebiewski. Coach Lori Poe said she believes any — or all — of her top three runners have a chance to qualify for the PIAA meet.
Zach Macy, perhaps best known for his wrestling achievements, had a breakout season in 2016 and will be the Colts' likely No. 4 runner.
The remainder of the varsity spots will be up for grabs. Hunter Hare and Shorya Kohli are among the athletes who Poe said she expects to contend for spots No. 5-7.
“Definitely our goal as a team is to get that state qualifying spot,” Poe said.
The same can be said for senior Elise LaQuatra. Last season, LaQuatra and Angela Valotta of Plum tied for 27th place — the last PIAA qualifying spot — in the girls WPIAL Class AAA meet, but a video review awarded the spot to Valotta and LaQuatra was left out of states.
“Hopefully that has inspired her to work harder in the offseason and not be in that position again,” Poe said.
Chartiers Valley also is expecting strong seasons from Caelan MacDonald and Kiki Thornton. Thornton ran cross country as a freshman then played soccer last season but is back with the cross country team for 2017. After Thornton's strong track and field season, Poe said she expects her to compete with LaQuatra for the team's No. 1 spot.
Veterans Brianna Zrelek and Avy Burek add experience, while Poe said she is confident the team will be better thanks to an influx of several freshmen to push the established runners. It's a change for Poe, who has dealt with a thin girls roster the past couple of seasons.
Numbers, however, likely will be an issue at Carlynton.
The Cougars, in their third season as a program, have talent. The question is whether there will be enough bodies to make an impact.
Coach Scott Kemmler's boys team might have only five runners. The girls team could have as many as seven, but, Kemmler said, several of his girls split time with the soccer team, and if there is a soccer match the same day as a cross country meet, soccer takes precedence.
Though the boys team won't be deep, it returns four of its top five runners from a year ago: senior David Creely, sophomore Mark Phillips, senior Riley Post and junior Matt Hilarzewski.
Kemmler said freshman Desmond Corrado is coming off a junior high track and field season in which he went undefeated in the mile.
Creely, Kemmler said, has the best chance to qualify for the PIAA meet. Graduated senior Luke Phillips, who went to Cleveland State on a tennis scholarship, qualified last season.
“The last two years, (David)'s been close … always within 45-50 seconds of a qualifying spot,” Kemmler said. “His big hurdle is he suffers from asthma. So it depends on a lot of variables. He has that goal in mind that he wants to be the next one.”
The girls team lost several seniors, so it will be young. The team is expected to comprise junior Julia Roussos; sophomores Anya Carrasco, Savannah Sevacko, Jaimee Cabili, Maggie Rigle and Olivia Robb; and freshman Martial Delrasio.
Roussos likely will be the top runner.
“The girls team isn't going to be as strong as it was in the past,” Kemmler said. “It will be interesting to see which ones want to take the lead.”
Bishop Canevin also is dealing with an inexperienced girls squad. Of coach Eric Shafer's six runners from last season, three graduated and one transferred.
Shafer will bring in six freshmen to complement returning runners Maddie Walter, a senior who doubles as a soccer player, and Shea O'Neill.
“We'll see how they do, but I expect them to come in and improve throughout the year,” Shafer said. “We'll push them through this season and try to build this thing for the future.”
The Crusaders boys team returns four of its top five runners from a group that finished tied for section runner-up in 2016. Senior Donavin Meriweather leads the way, and Shafer said he is hoping Meriweather can finish his cross country career with a PIAA berth.
He is joined by fellow seniors Adam Petrovich and Dan Bigley, as well as junior Dante DeFrank, the Crusaders' No. 2 finisher at last season's WPIAL meet.
Sophomore Justin Angle rounds out the top five. Angle is in his first year of cross country after specializing in sprints with Bishop Canevin's track and field team in the spring.
Shafer said he hopes the team can finish at least solo second in the section this season. The Crusaders and everyone else in Division II, Section 5 likely will be looking up at two-time reigning state champion Winchester Thurston.
“These seniors have been together for four years,” Shafer said. “They've improved every year.”