Mt. Lebanon’s Patrick Anderson leads trio of area cross country state champions

Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 8:42 PM

HERSHEY — Mount Lebanon senior Patrick Anderson said it’s not easy to win back-to-back cross country titles.

“I’ve gone into every race this season knowing there was a target on my back,” Anderson said after winning his second consecutive PIAA Class AAA title Saturday at the cross country state championships at the Parkview Course. He finished in 15 minutes, 25 seconds, his fastest time of the season.

“There was pressure all season long. Being state champion last year, every race I went in extra focused to make sure that wasn’t going to get to me. Every race I went into with that focus, and every race I came out with a win.”

Anderson jumped out quickly and forced the rest of the field to chase him. North Allegheny senior Daniel McGoey was second in 15:50.

“Not a lot of guys can come back and win it,” Anderson said. “This means a lot, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on for 365 days.”

The other WPIAL runners to earn medals for finishing in the top 25 were: Peters Township senior Zack Marmol (eighth), Butler sophomore Sage Vavro (ninth), Fox Chapel senior Christian Fitch (11th), Butler sophomore C.J. Singleton (13th), Mars senior Zach Leachman (19th) and Butler junior Skyler Vavro (24th).

Anderson wasn’t the only WPIAL champion to take first. Moon sophomore Mia Cochran won the girls Class AAA title, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart senior Haley Hamilton took the Class A title.

Cochran beat Bethel Park junior Emily Carter by 18 seconds.

Cochran ran a 17:53, and Carter an 18:11. North Allegheny senior Hannah Lindgren ended up sixth in 18:40, and Fox Chapel senior Grace Sisson was eighth in 18:57.

“I felt so good during the race, and I felt I was pulling away,” Cochran said. “I ran a great race. My gameplan was to stay with everyone for the first two miles and then pull away the last mile. It worked out well.”

Carter said she wasn’t disappointed.

“I’m satisfied. My goal was to finish top two. Mia ran a great race,” Carter said.

North Allegheny won the girls Class AAA team title for the second consecutive year. The Tigers finished with 137 points and State College 152.

Hamilton captured the Class A title in 19:20.

Wilmington junior Grace Mason edged Greensburg Central Catholic sophomore Corinn Brewer for second place. Mason ran a 19:38 and Brewer a 19:41. Brewer was awarded third on a photo finish as she nipped Elk Lake sophomore Krista Jones, who also ran a 19:41.

“At first I thought I went out too fast,” Hamilton said. “I had energy at the end. I wasn’t expecting to win. I just was hoping to finish better than I did last year.”

Brewer, who struggled at the WPIAL championships, bounced back on the tough Hershey course.

“I wasn’t feeling as confident coming into this race after what happened at WPIALs. I just wanted to get redemption and push myself and run to the best of my abilities,” Brewer said. “I had a good week of practice, and I knew I was ready and I knew I could do it. I just needed to push myself to work those up hills and down hills.”

The WPIAL championships were run on a hot day with temperatures in the upper 70s. It took its toll on numerous runners.

Brewer’s plan was to start with the top pack and push the up hills and go fast on the down hills.

“I worked well on the down hills, and I was pushing to go as fast as I could,” Brewer said. “I knew top 10 was realistic, and top 5 was well in range. When I was passing people through the race instead of getting passed like last year, I knew I could get third.”

The other WPIAL placewinners were North Catholic freshman Julia Zalenski (eighth), Shenango sophomore Emily Olcott (14th), Northgate freshman Grace Baldauff (15th), North Catholic junior Emma McDonald (18th) and Vincentian Academy senior Hollie Walters was 2th.

In the Class AA girls race, Northern senior Marlee Starliper breezed to the title by running a 17:11. She finished almost a minute ahead of Greencastle-Antrim senior Taryn Parks, who ran an 18:07.

It was the third time Starliper has won the Class AA title. Parks won the Class AA title in 2016.

The Quarzo sisters from Brownsville also fared well. Gionna finished third in 18:19, and freshman Jolena was eighth with a time of 19:15.

“My goal was to get third,” Gionna Quarzo said. “I’m pleased that Jolena did well. It shows how good she is.”

Quaker Valley senior Annie Wicker placed 12th in Class AA, South Fayette sophomore Lauren Iagnemma 13th and South Fayette freshman Angelina Gabriel 24th.

The South Fayette girls won the team title with 62 points, edging Northern with 77.

In the Class A boys race, Penns Valley runners finished 1-2. The WPIAL placewinners were Winchester Thurston senior Scott Routledge (fifth), Riverview junior Mason Ochs (eighth), Riverside junior Cody Belczyk (10th), Riverview junior Gideon Deasy (14th), Eden Christian senior Eric Gronbeck (16th), Avonworth junior Jackson Habala (21st) and Winchester Thurston junior Patrick Malone (23rd).

The Winchester Thurston boys won their third PIAA title in Class AAA since 2014. They finished with 113 points, and the Riverview boys were second with 132.

In Class AA boys, Indiana senior Kendall Branan was the top WPIAL finisher at ninth. Ringgold junior Lucas Pajak was 16th, Blackhawk senior Jack Aulbach 18th, Greensburg Salem junior Quintin Gatons 20th, Indiana junior Joel Beckwith 21st and Quaker Valley senior Daniel Ford 22nd.

Gatons was pleased with his finish because when he hit the mile mark, he was in 70th place.

“The race was decided between the 1- and 2-mile mark,” Gatons said. “I kept moving up, and I was pleased and happy how it ended. I gave it my all.”

Gatons was part of the 2018 winning Class AA team from Greensburg Salem.

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

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