Greensburg Salem, Kiski Area runners win county cross country meet with personal bests

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 9:08 PM

There is nothing like running your best and an achieving a goal.

That’s what Greensburg Salem senior Jacob Smith and Kiski Area sophomore Eliza Miller did Wednesday at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association’s cross country championships at Westmoreland County Community College.

Both breezed to wins and set personal records in doing so. Miller also set a course record for girls: 18 minutes, 8.3 seconds.

Smith ran his first sub-17-minute race, crossing the finish line at the relatively flat WCCA layout in 16:59.5 to edge Ligonier Valley senior Tucker Klotz (17:05.5). Penn-Trafford freshman Jacob McGee (17:10.9) was third.

“Winning this means a lot,” Smith said. “This is my final year, and I hadn’t really won a lot of things. I’ve always been the three or four guy on the team, and last year wasn’t a good year for me. To finally win this race is pretty special for me.”

Smith said starting fast was the key for him, and he was able to stay ahead of the pack.

“Quintin Gatons (2021 graduate) inspired me to do better,” Smith said. “We played baseball when we were young, and I learned a lot from him. He made me a better runner.”

Klotz said he attempted to start fast, and he held the lead until they reached the hill. That’s when Smith edged ahead.

“The Greensburg Salem runner was able to pass me on the loop,” Klotz said. “He got ahead and he extended the gap.”

Klotz also ran a personal best.

McGee was pleased how he finished. He, too, set a personal record by more than a minute.

He was able to keep pace with Hempfield’s Owen DeMatt and passed him late.

“I’m pleased with the way I ran,” McGee said. “Hopefully, I will continue to improve.”

DeMatt finished fourth followed by Franklin Regional senior Nicolas Provenzo and junior Andrew Moore. Greensburg Salem junior Aaron Tressler placed eighth.

Norwin’s Noah Wilson finished ninth, and Greensburg Central Catholic’s Nick Szekely was 10th.

Miller, who finished second as a freshman to Greensburg Central Catholic’s Corinn Brewer, then a junior, bettered her time by nearly a minute (19:13.6). She finished more than a minute ahead of Penn-Trafford senior Chloe Bonson (19:18.3) and sophomore Amelia Barilla (19:31.5). Brewer, a three-time champion of the county race, finished fifth behind Latrobe’s Emerson Skatell.

Rounding out the top 10 were Derry freshman Jane Huss, Franklin Regional’s Paityn Blakely, Hempfield’s Lily Murphy, Latrobe’s Lexie Planinsek and Norwin’s Audra Fedor.

Miller is one of the top runners in WPIAL Class 3A. She looks a lot stronger than she did a year ago.

“Last year it was real windy,” Miller said. “There was no wind this year and that made a big difference. My training is a lot better and we’ve been training hard.

“I know the competition is good. The Cal U course is really difficult, and it will be exciting to see how I do there.”

The Penn-Trafford duo was pleased with their run.

“I did pretty good-place wise. My time could have been a little better,” Bonson said. “I believe I was 30 seconds off my PR, but I was happy with my place compared to last year when I didn’t run well.”

Barilla was happy she was able to get under 20 minutes for the first time.

“I used Chloe as someone to push me,” Barilla said. “I never had people to run with, so I used her as a pacer.”

The top 15 finishers were awarded medals, which were presented by WPIAL Hall of Famer and four-time WPIAL and WCCA champion Natalie Bower Toman.

Greensburg Salem’s boys and girls teams grabbed the Class 2A-A team titles, and the Hempfield boys and the Latrobe girls won the Class 3A titles.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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