Future bright for Riverview boys cross country team

Sunday, November 3, 2019 | 7:00 PM

Riverview junior Mason Ochs finished eighth in the Class A boys race at Saturday’s PIAA cross country championships after taking second at WPIALs.

Teammate Gideon Deasy was 14th.

The top five Raiders runners — all underclassmen — posted finishes 40th or better to help the team finish runner-up to Winchester Thurston. It was the best PIAA finish in program history.

With the top five runners, including sophomores Parker Steele, Ty Laughlin and Lucas Wilton, eligible to return, it’s easy to see why there is an immediate buzz going around for a repeat performance next fall.

But Ochs said the focus for the runners, including PIAA-participating seniors Jacob Sullivan and Erik Ketterer, is preparation for the spring track season.

“I think we will have a pretty solid 4×800 team and should do well in other events,” Ochs said. “Track my freshman year gave me a big boost into the summer to get ready for cross country. That definitely helped Gideon this year, and I feel that will help a number of our younger teammates.”

Riverview coach Palma Ostrowski said there are so many variables from season to season, including injuries.

“You just don’t know, with certainty, what is going to happen,” she said. “Other teams are working just as hard to reach the same goals. We hope we can put everything together and come back next year.”

The Knoch girls, who won the Division II, Section 1 championship and finished third in Class AA at WPIALs, were 14th overall in Hershey. They again placed third among WPIAL teams behind state champion South Fayette and Greensburg Salem (ninth).

“The girls had a great season,” Knoch coach Wess Brahler said. “They held each other accountable for their training and their performances, and they knew that it wasn’t going to be just one young lady to carry the team.”

Senior Sammy Jo Barnes, a Dickinson recruit, finished nine seconds (personal best 20:15) and four places from a medal at states. The top 25 runners receive medals.

“Double A was loaded this year with quality and quantity. Being in the top 30 in the state is pretty special,” Brahler said.

Senior leader Amelia Walls was the fourth finisher for Knoch on Saturday, and, Brahler said, the other five runners — sophomores Elyse Chess, Yumiko Kuo, Jocelyn Holko and Jaydon Crawford and freshman Grace Bogacz — hope to return to lead the underclassmen to more success next year.

“One of the girls mentioned, ‘What can we do next year?’ ” Brahler said. “I said that our goal never changes. We want to challenge for the section title again. We want to again be one of the top teams in the WPIAL, and we want to get as many athletes as we can to states.”

Fox Chapel seniors Grace Sisson and Brooke Krally ran in the Class AAA girls race as individuals this year after also competing with their team the past three seasons.

Sisson placed eighth, one spot better than last year. Her time of 18:57 was 34 seconds faster than last year.

Krally was 58thin in 19:57, an improvement of 26 seconds from last year.

Foxes senior Christian Fitch ran at states all four years, and the Temple commit capped his high school career 11th (16:16) in the boys Class AAA race. His time was identical to what he recorded at WPIALs in placing fourth.

Knoch senior Branden Zukowski returned to states and ran the Hershey course in 18:19, 11 seconds faster than last fall.

Fellow Knights senior Aaron Plyler made his PIAA championship debut and finished in 18:51.

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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