Despite missing out on trip to state meet, Riverview boys proud of 2nd-place finish

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Saturday, October 31, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Under normal WPIAL cross country circumstances, the Riverview boys team would be heading to Hershey this weekend to compete with the best in the state.

But when the PIAA announced new qualifying parameters amid the coronavirus pandemic, it created a unique situation where only the district champions would qualify.

Riverview, which finished runner-up to Winchester Thurston last Wednesday at White Oak Park, was left on the outside. It was the fifth straight year Winchester Thurston and Riverview finished 1-2 in the team standings.

“Our boys really ran their hearts out,” said Riverview coach Palma Ostrowski, who, when crunching the numbers, felt Winchester Thurston would be the favorite.

Winchester claimed the title with 67 team points to Riverview’s 80.

“We had prepared the kids for the possibility, so there were no surprises,” Ostrowski said.

“We were honest with them. We weren’t sure if it was going to be close, so were so very proud of them that it was only 13 points. They gave everything they had on the course.

“The whole day was surreal. It wasn’t the normal WPIALs we were accustomed to. It was a new course and half the field was racing at a time. But I think the WPIAL did an amazing job. It was flawless. It just felt different because it was different.”

Raiders senior Mason Ochs was surrounded by Winchester Thurston runners at the finish line.

He came in second overall with a time of 16 minutes, 29 seconds, just three seconds behind winner Patrick Malone.

Winchester nabbed the third and fourth spots to give them the advantage.

Ochs’ time was faster than what he ran on the same White Oak course for the Red, White & Blue Classic and last week’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association meet.

Junior Parker Steele placed 13th overall (17:17) for Riverview. The top 15 finishers earned medals.

Senior Gideon Deasy, who had been sidelined almost the entire year with an injury, came back to run at WPIALs and placed 18th (17:38).

“One word I can use to describe Gideon’s performance is gutsy,” Ostrowski said.

“It was his first race of the season, and to finish in the top 20 given his injury and how little training he got, it just shows how strong and talented he is. He gave all he had, and I am just so proud of him.”

Rounding out the five scoring runners for Riverview were sophomore Amberson Bauer (24th, 17:52) and junior Ty Laughlin (26th, 17:55).

“We were well rested so we could give it a shot against Winchester,” Ochs said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get past them. Winchester has a lot of talented runners, and they ran a great race. It’s not anything we didn’t expect from them. It wasn’t that big of a letdown. It’s just a little sad that the second spot doesn’t go (to states). It’s a strange feeling.”

But Ochs, second at WPIALs for the second year in a row, will be heading to states as the PIAA takes the top seven individual finishers who are not members of Winchester Thurston.

Ochs hopes to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish at Hershey.

“I glanced at the individual state rankings after my (WPIAL) race,” Ochs said.

“Everything had been so focused on WPIALs. I see some really good competition, and I think it’s going to be a fun race. Again, I just wish I could be there and run at states with my teammates. But it is good to know that I can at least go there and represent them. I have one good race left in me, and I am going to give it my all.”

The Riverview girls placed 10th overall as senior Ally Johnson, in her final high school race, led the way with a 42nd-place finish (22:20) in the individual standings.

Freshman Audrey Myers made her WPIAL debut and took 51st (22:37).

Of the seven girls runners who competed, six are either sophomores or freshmen.

“We are really excited about the teams for next year,” Ostrowski said. “We really tried to focus on that, too.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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