North Hills runners continue to show improvement

Friday, September 28, 2018 | 8:57 AM

From a group perspective, the North Hills boys and girls cross country teams are young.

In addition to their youth and relative inexperience, the Indians have the disadvantage of being one of the smaller teams, numbers-wise, in Section 3-AAA, which includes Butler, Hampton, Mars, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler.

Those two drawbacks have combined to make this a season that has included some growing pains for both the boys (1-3) and the girls (0-4) teams. Nevertheless, Indians cross country coach Lacey Murray and her group of runners are finding a way to shift their focus and hone in on finding ways to improve while their top athletes are afforded an opportunity to excel.

“We have a really young team overall, and we’re a lot smaller then some of the other teams that we run against. We don’t have a lot of runners but we do have runners that are working hard,” Murray said.

“We’re trying to help those top runners qualify as individuals, so we push them a little more as we build things up as a team and get our overall competitiveness up. We have the kids set goals on an individual basis, and we focus on each one of them making strides toward those goals.”

Leading the way for the boys team has been senior Joey Buehner, who notched a first-place finish in the boys group at the Montour Invitational on Sept. 15.

As a junior last season, Buehner finished 30th out of 219 finishers at the WPIAL Class AAA championship meet. This year, his coach says he has his sights set on qualifying for the PIAA meet.

“His goal is to make it to the state meet this year. He ran in the Foundation Race in Hershey (Pa.) this past weekend and finished in 28th, which is great considering the field. He improved his time by 30 seconds from last year, too, so we’re hoping he’ll be close enough to qualify for states,” Murray said,

“He just works so hard, year-round. You just can’t teach that, and to excel in the sport of running, you need to have that.”

Sophomores Andrew Groll and Kerry Wolff have put together strong times this season, as well. Junior Mason Richardson and sophomore Alex Serowik also are drawing praise from Murray as a result of the significant improvements they’re making when it comes to whittling down their running times.

For the girls team, senior Paige Lyden is putting together another strong campaign after finishing last year as the team’s top runner.

In addition to Lyden, freshman Beth Santarino is impressing as a first-year varsity contributor.

Sophomore Ashley Ussack is also doing well as a top-three runner for the girls team.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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