Mt. Lebanon’s Patrick Anderson betters own course record, captures first WPIAL title

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Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 9:40 PM


Patrick Anderson started this season by setting a course record at the Marty Uher Invitational on the Roadman Park course at Cal (Pa.).

He turned in a time of 15 minutes, 54.40 seconds that day in late August.

Anderson bettered that time in a return to Roadman for last week’s Tri-State meet, winning the Class AAA race in 15:45.47.

The Mt. Lebanon senior, North Carolina commit and defending PIAA Class AAA champion was at it again Thursday afternoon as he went even faster on the Roadman Course — 15:41 — and captured his first WPIAL individual championship.

He reversed last year’s runner-up finish to North Allegheny’s Daniel McGoey, and McGoey took second Thursday with a time of 15:58.

“There’s some revenge coming back here and wanting to get that title,” said Anderson, who placed fourth at WPIALs as a sophomore and 27th as a freshman.

“I wanted to come in and have a good race. There’s definitely a lot of pressure this year. I can feel it in every race, having a target on my back. I think it makes you think about it a lot more and focus even harder to get ready for these races because you know you are being looked at, and the guys are coming for you.”

Mars senior Zachary Leachman (16:10) was third, followed by Fox Chapel senior Christian Fitch (16:16) and Butler sophomore CJ Singleton.

Singleton, a transfer from St. Joseph, placed fifth in the Class A race at WPIALs last year.

McGoey’s finish helped North Allegheny capture its second straight WPIAL title. The Tigers placed their top four scoring runners in the top 15, and their fifth runner took 23rd.

Butler and Seneca Valley also punched tickets to states.

The top four teams the boys and girls Class A races and the top three in Class AAA and AA earn automatic trips to states, set for Nov. 2 in Hershey.

The top 20 individuals in Class A and top 15 in Class AAA and AA not on one of the qualifying teams also earn berths to the PIAA meet.

Class AA

Beaver Area junior Will Lamb separated himself from a competitive pack at the top and claimed his first WPIAL individual championship.

He completed the course in a time of 16:48, 16 seconds ahead of both New Castle senior Anthony Litrenta (17:04) and Ringgold junior Lucas Pajak (17:04). Indiana senior Kendall Branan took fourth (17:06), South Fayette senior Zach Conner placed fifth (17:14), and Blackhawk senior Jack Aulbach was sixth (17:15).

“I had no clue (the win) was going to happen going in,” Lamb said “It’s been back and forth all season. I had a couple of early victories, and Jack and Lucas ran some really good races last week. I was just trying to go out and run and see what happened. Just trying to stay with that pack.”

Lamb knocked 34 seconds off his eighth-place time from last year’s WPIAL meet.

“If you can just survive the hill and then get your momentum, you have to slowly increase your speed as you come around,” Lamb said. “That’s kind of everyone’s strategy. I just happened to be able to execute it the best today.”

Lamb now will seek to improve on last year’s 77th-place finish at states.

As there was a new individual champion crowned in Class AA, a new team also moved to the top of the standings.

New Castle, with Litrenta and junior Zac Gibson (eighth) leading the way, outdistanced fellow state qualifiers South Fayette and Indiana for the title.

The Red Hurricanes were runners-up at WPIALs in 2017 and third last year.

Indiana, the team champion in 2017 and runner-up last year, also will run at states for the third year in a row.

Class A

While every other returning WPIAL boys runner in Class A hoped to improve from last year, Freedom senior Adam Hessler’s goal was to stay put.

He did just that as he defended his 2018 WPIAL title and lowered his time 14 seconds from last year.

Hessler bested the field by 21 seconds and crossed the finish line at 16:49.

Riverview junior Mason Ochs took second at 17:10, Winchester Thurston senior Scott Routledge was third at 17:16, and Eden Christian senior Eric Gronbeck placed fourth at 17:17.

“I kind of just wanted to run similar to last year, trying to go out and stay in control the whole time,” Hessler said. “I think I’m stronger this year. That mixed in with the same strategy is what made it happen today.”

Hessler now will go after a state title at Hershey after placing third there last year.

The Class A team title came down to familiar foes Winchester Thurston and Riverview, and the Bears topped the Raiders for the fourth year in a row.

Winchester Thurston placed all five of its scoring runners within the top 15 and outdistanced runner-up Riverview by 38 points.

Senior Sean Heintzleman (sixth, 17:30) and junior Gus Robinson (eighth, 17:33) helped pace the Bears, while junior Gideon Deasy (fifth, 17:27) joined Ochs in the top 10 for Riverview.

“The strength of our team this year is the five of them are within a minute or so of each other,” Winchester Thurston coach Bruce Frey said. “We don’t anticipate an individual state champ like we’ve had in the past, but the five of them pulling together can mean good things for us at states.”

Winchester Thurston captured the 2016 state title, was fourth in 2017 and brought home second last year.

Riverview will run at states for the fifth year in a row and hopes to improve on its all-time best finish of eighth set last year and in 2017.

Eden Christian recorded its second straight WPIAL third-place finish, and Avonworth, fourth on Thursday, will run at states for the first time since it won the WPIAL title in 2013.

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

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