North Hills runners showing pack mentality

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Friday, September 20, 2019 | 8:46 AM


With their meet season heating up, the North Hills cross country teams are showing some solid signs of progress under first-year coach Shannon Metzler.

The varsity squads recently competed in the 17th annual Red, White and Blue Classic at Schenley Park and had several runners post personal bests. More importantly, Metzler said she is seeing distinct signs of maturity as her young teams learn to run well together.

“Our team feels young to me, but we have some older athletes doing well, too. We saw a few personal bests at the Red, White and Blue event and that’s always good, but I think the biggest progress I’m seeing is in their ability to work together,” Metzler said.

“In cross country, you need to have people working together to improve your score, and that is probably where I’m seeing the most progress. The team is pulling each other along and they’re coming in closer together in these meets.”

For the boys, junior Andrew Groll shaved 20-plus seconds off his time from last year’s Red, White and Blue when he clocked in at 18:55 at this season’s event Sept. 7. Travis Larson, Alex Serowik and Daniel Suchin all set personal bests as well.

The Indians’ lead runner for the girls, Jessica Swab, performed well. Junior Ashley Ussack, who typically runs second to Swab, dropped about 30 seconds from her previous low time to record a new personal best. Jaelyn Aguglia-Laird notched a personal best at the event.

Metzler says she is seeing some great strides from freshman Vivian Miller, who has chiseled out a niche as the girls’ third runner behind Swab and Ussack.

Miller is one of 11 freshmen on the boys and girls teams, and while both groups are young, the development their coach is seeing has her thinking positively.

“We are making progress and we are dropping time, and I’m enjoying watching these kids learn how to work together as a team,” Metzler said.

“We are working on building up the fundamentals and the strengths of our team and our program. We’ve been hitting the hills really hard and building that confidence in our ability to run these races against tough programs. I see them working hard and putting the time in.”

The North Hills cross country teams will be participating in the Montour Invitation this Saturday and in the Slippery Rock Invitational on Oct. 12.

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