Gateway’s Sundin caps high school cross country career at PIAA championships

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Sunday, November 14, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Brady Sundin capped his high school cross country career on the state’s biggest stage.

The Gateway senior joined the top runners in Hershey on Nov. 6 for the PIAA championships, and he placed 141st overall in the Class 3A boys race with a time of 17 minutes, 53.9 seconds.

“He ran well, a little better than he did at WPIALs,” Gateway coach Tom LaBuff said.

“He didn’t pop the race I thought he could run and he thought he could run. Afterwards, he said, for whatever reason, his legs just weren’t there. But he finished a little bit ahead of where he did at WPIALs.”

Sundin’s time at states was about 12 seconds better than his WPIAL time of 18:05.0 that placed him 26th overall on the Roadman Park Course at Cal (Pa.).

At states, he was 159th after the first mile before making a move in the second mile up to 133rd.

He dipped slightly in the final mile.

“A lot of times, we look at those results and place seems to be the biggest issue,” LaBuff said.

“I did think if he had his best race he could’ve broken the top 50. He ran a good race, but the competition is what it is. It’s the state meet.

“We ran workouts a couple of days after the WPIAL meet, and he was ready to hit his best race. I think given another chance to run, he would’ve fared better. For whatever reason that morning, he had a good race, but not his best. He got out well and held his place, but he lost a little bit of ground in the last 400 meters. He just doesn’t have that sprinter speed that some of the others have. But I was satisfied he ran a good race.”

The run at states was Sundin’s first in his four-year varsity career with the Gators.

He was 108th in the WPIAL Class 3A boys race last year at White Oak Park.

LaBuff said Sundin got a lift at states as several members of the boys and girls teams and a couple of other supporters made the trip out to Hershey to root him on.

“Brady was just overwhelmed by the amount of support he got,” LaBuff said. “He put some comments to that affect on his Strava feed. He said it made all the difference in the world to have his teammates there.”

The PIAA Class 3A boys race was good for WPIAL runners who took the top two spots and added two other finishes in the top 10. Butler teammates battled for the top spot as senior CJ Singleton bested sophomore Drew Griffiths by six seconds to win the state title.

Sundin was the final individual in boys Class 3A to qualify for states from the WPIAL championships. He was 32nd after the first mile, 29th after the second mile and 26th at the finish.

He finished safely in the final qualifying spot, seven seconds ahead of Penn-Trafford freshman Jacob McGhee (27th, 18:12.3).

“Brady ran a good (WPIAL) race,” LaBuff said. “He got bottled up early, but he made a good move through the field in the middle mile which was a mudfest up and down the hills. He had a really good last mile. With 600 meters to go, he had moved up just past two runners into 23rd. Those two kids had more speed so they began to move past him and pull away from him as all three began to put on a finishing push. Then the Connellsville kid behind him (senior Zach Bigam), about 50 yards back, put on this unbelievable kick starting at about 200 meters and caught Brady at the finish line.”

LaBuff said Sundin’s season, which began in late August with a runner-up finish at the Gateway Invitational at Boyce Park, was full of breakthrough accomplishments.

“We looked to where he was two years ago, where he was last year and where he got to this year,” LaBuff said. “He really had a great season. Obviously, you always set goals high, and he medaled in just about every race he ran. He might have had one bad race, a bad race by his standards, but he still finished in the top five in that nine-team meet.

“For him, it wasn’t just about the running. His season was full of developments of his character and as a leader. He took his position as a leader and the team seriously and really did a lot to help his teammates get better all season.”

The Gateway boys finished 23rd overall at WPIALs, as sophomore Kefimba Cisse was second on the Gators team and 67th overall in a time of 19:15.8.

“The other boys performed close to expectations, pretty well considering their youth and inexperience,” LaBuff said.

Sundin was the only Gateway boys runner at WPIALs who will graduate.

The Gateway girls took 25th in the WPIAL Class 3A standings. Senior Kiyara Sawyers led the Gators with a 91st overall finish in a time of 22:59.3.

The girls squad was a little more senior-laden, as Emma Sandor, Skyler Esswein and Bryona Jackson also will move on.

“The girls were almost all sick, so they were not able to run to their capabilities,” LaBuff said.

“It was a terrible disappointment for the seniors to be unable to finish as well as they had hoped.”

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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