Despite hard-luck finish, Shaler cross country team pleased with season

Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 11:01 AM

Tyler Paszkowski positioned himself perfectly during the WPIAL Class AAA championship race Oct. 29 at White Oak Park.

The Shaler junior was in the lead pack, positioned around 10th place, alongside a runner from Butler. Everything was going as Paszkowski hoped.

“Right off the start, I felt super strong and ready to run,” Paszkowski said. “My placement was perfect. Right when we made the first turn, he fell. I knew he was coming straight at me and knew it was going to be a problem.”

Paszkowski was knocked to the ground by the initial collision then was knocked back down when he tried to get up by another group of runners.

Paszkowski recovered in 17 minutes, 32 seconds, which placed 46th out of a field of 250 runners. He was pleased with the progress he made through the season.

“At the start of the year, it was rough,” Paszkowski said. “It felt similar to last year. I was kind of worried. Midway through the season, I got close to 16:28, and I was happy with that.”

Shaler didn’t have any runners move on to the PIAA championships this season after sending Paszkowski and Samantha Hennen last year.

The WPIAL was only permitted to have one team qualify, which made the competition for the individual sports much more fierce.

“Even with the restrictions this year, I believe Tyler would have made it if not for a kid falling and taking him out,” Titans coach Justin Eskra said. “It was something he had no control over. It’s hard as an athlete when something that crazy and freaky happens to you. What are you going to do?

Hennen, who placed 24th in the race by finishing in 20 minutes, 4 seconds, would have qualified in a typical year. Ryan Paris, who finished in 17:17 to place 29th in the boys’ race, likely would have qualified as well.

Senior Danielle Eshelman also finished in the top 50, placing 41st (20:38).

Eskra was proud of how Shaler performed. The boys placed 21st as a team, while the girls team came in 20th.

“This fall was up in the air,” Eskra said. “For us to even get the postseason in was good for the kids.”

Paszkowski is looking forward to pursuing another trip to Hershey for the state championships next season.

“I definitely want to do a lot better,” Paszkowski said. “I want to stay out of the situation I was in and not worry about falling. I want to have it guaranteed to go back to states.”


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