Kiski Area’s Miller, Fox Chapel’s Gwin capture Kiski Invitational titles

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Friday, September 16, 2022 | 5:31 PM


After going through massive changes to format two years ago because of the covid pandemic and not being able to run last year, organizers of the fifth Gingerbread Man Kiski Invitational cross country meet at Allegheny Township’s Northmoreland Park were hoping for the best as more than 20 area high school gathered again Friday for one of the region’s top high school events.

With good weather and competition throughout the races, they got what they desired.

Kiski Area junior Eliza Miller, running again on a course very familiar to her, repeated as the varsity girls winner, crossing the finish line in what is believed to a be a course-record time of 18 minutes, 55.21 seconds.

“I felt really good today,” said Miller, who was in second place by five seconds at the midway point of the race.

“The race was also kind of a training run as I am training for a triathlon Sunday at Moraine State Park. I’ve been running well. It’s really nice to have this race back after last year.”

The 2021 Kiski Invite was canceled the morning of the race when a body was found in the park. Local authorities closed down portions of the park as an investigation began.

Miller made her varsity debut in the 2020 Kiski Invitational, contested in team-by-team stages, and won in a time of 19:24.1, more than 30 seconds faster than the runner-up. At last year’s section championships on the Northmoreland course, Miller ran to a winning time of 18:57.40, her old course record.

She wasn’t as dominant Friday in terms of margin of victory as she was two years ago, but she was able to distance the rest of the field by 14 seconds.

Woodland Hills’ Annabel Johnson took second in a time of 19:09.21.

“Not even thinking about the times, we’re just happy with the way Eliza raced, facing some really good competition,” Kiski Invitational lead organizer and Cavaliers coach Tom Berzonsky said.

“Give a lot of credit to that girl from Woodland Hills. It was nice to see Eliza, when she had to turn it on, make that kick and finish strong.”

Latrobe’s Emerson Skatell (19:56.65); Miller’s Cavaliers teammate, Tatiana Holt (20:26.48); and Fox Chapel’s Clara Kelley (20:45.43) rounded out the top five.

The top 10 finishers in both the boys and girls varsity races earned medals. Burrell’s Kadi Bauer placed seventh (20:52.76), and Kiski Area’s Sydney Heinack was ninth (21:36.82).

Led by three runners in the top 10, Kiski Area claimed the girls team title with a low of 72 place points, seven ahead of runner-up Latrobe.

The boys varsity race featured a battle for the top spot between Fox Chapel junior Rowan Gwin and Freeport sophomore Michael Braun.

The two traded the lead a couple of times. Braun was in the lead by two seconds at the halfway point, but Gwin overtook Braun down the stretch to win by five seconds.

Gwin, who didn’t run the section meet at Northmoreland last year because of illness, crossed in 16:43.6.

“I knew the course from freshman year,” said Gwin, who placed 12th (16:15) in the Class 3A boys race at last Saturday’s Red, White & Blue Invitational at White Oak Park.

“I knew the kid from Freeport and how he was pretty decent from track season. I just stuck with him though the whole thing, and I felt I had the better kick. So, I just went for it.”

Braun, 10th in the Class 2A boys race at Red, White & Blue, finished his first Kiski Invite 5K in a time of 16:48.1.

“I ran (Gwin) in track a couple of times, and he’s got a good stride,” Braun said. “It was tough to keep up with him at the end. We just battled it out over the third mile. Overall, I am happy with my race. It is another good race to build from.”

Fox Chapel and Plum each had two runners in the top five. Foxes sophomore Ethan Vaughan took third (17:07.6), while Plum’s Connor Pivirotto (17:28.3) and Nate Mienke (17:28.7) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Fox Chapel placed all five of its runners in the top 20 and won the boys team title with 39 place points. Indiana (106) and Kiski Area were a distant second and third, respectively.

“We’re ecstatic for the kids and for the communities to be back strong and be able to host something like this,” Berzonsky said.

“It was nice to have this back in the normal fashion. The weather was really nice. We’re so happy it all came together, and so many people came together and worked hard to make it happen.”

Gingerbread Man Kiski Invitational

Northmoreland Park

Varsity Top 10

Boys

Team

1.Fox Chapel, 52; 2. Indiana, 100; 3. Plum, 109; 4. Kiski Area, 142; 5. Freeport, 146; 6. Hempfield, 171; 7. Franklin Regional, 194; 8. Latrobe, 218; 9. Baldwin, 252; 10. Penn Hills, 268.

Individuals

1.Rowan Gwin, Fox Chapel (16:43.6); 2. Michael Braun, Freeport (16:48.1); 3. Ethan Vaughan, Fox Chapel (17:07.6); 4. Connor Pivirotto, Plum (17:28.3); 5. Nate Mienke, Plum (17:28.7); 6. Jonathan Berzonsky, Indiana (17:46.6); 7. August Lawrence, Latrobe (17:46.9); 8. Nathan Kociela, Franklin Regional (17:59.7); 9. Max Kaizer, Fox Chapel (18:08.9); 10. Austin Stuchul, Penn Hills (18:11.5).

Girls

Team

1.Kiski Area, 72; 2. Latrobe, 79; 3. Fox Chapel, 83; 4. Indiana, 105; 5. Baldwin, 134; 6. Franklin Regional, 164; 7. Freeport, 184; 8. Burrell, 209; 9. Plum, 256; 10. Woodland Hills, 285.

Individuals

1.Eliza Miller, Kiski Area (18:55.21); 2. Annabel Johnson, Woodland Hills (19:09.21); 3. Emeron Skatell, Latrobe (19:56.65); 4. Tatiana Holt, Kiski Area (20:26.48); 5. Clara Kelley, Fox Chapel (20:45.43); 6. Marin Airik, Fox Chapel (20:48.96); 7. Kadi Bauer, Burrell (20:52.76); 8. Addison Fry, Indiana (21:21.48); 9. Sydney Heinack, Kiski Area (21:36.82); 10. Carley Berk, Latrobe (21:41.66).

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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