Paszkowski, Paris lead Shaler cross country team into promising season

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Sunday, September 20, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Running at North Park and the river trails in Millvale helped Tyler Paszkowski and Ryan Paris pass a lot of time during quarantine.

Doing so was only natural for the two Shaler Area junior cross country runners.

“Training with Tyler has been great,” Paris said. “We’ve been training together since seventh grade. That’s where we met each other on the team. … If he’s falling off on the hills and I pass him, he’ll blow by me on the downhill. That keeps me going. I know I can stay with him if I train my hardest.”

Paszkowski and Paris led Shaler’s small contingent — the boys’ team only has five runners — by finishing first and second in a meet against North Hills and Hampton last Tuesday. On the girls’ team, Samantha Hennen and Danielle Eshelman finished first and second to lead the Titans to wins over North Hills and Hampton.

While they were uncertain there would be a season, getting mileage in was important to stay fit.

“Basically, we were together every day running,” Paszkowski said. “Whenever we were bored and had nothing to do during quarantine, we would run.”

Shaler coach Justin Eskra said he expects Eshelman, Hennen, Paszkowski and Paris all to challenge for spots in the PIAA meet. Paszkowski and Hennen qualified last season.

Eskra was also able to get some extra help from volunteer coach Bri Schwartz, who is a Shaler graduate and former WPIAL and PIAA cross country champion.

“We are fortunate to have her helping as a volunteer,” Eskra said. “She brings the perspective of a former champion who went to Colorado and trained under one of the best cross country coaches in the country. That’s experience I don’t have.”

Paris said Schwartz’s workouts have introduced him to some new methods.

“It’s been a fun change,” Paris said. “She caters workouts specifically for us.”

Paszkowski and Paris just wanted to stay sharp through the summer. They have been working on keeping their mileage over 40 per week and tapering toward WPIALs.

“We weren’t too sure if there was going to be a season, so we weren’t doing speed work,” Paszkowski said. “We were out doing seven- or eight-mile runs. We did longer ones if we were bored. We wanted to stack miles to get our legs moving.”

Paris wants to do what he can to keep up with Paszkowski.

The goal is for them to be able to run together at Hershey at the end of the season.

“Everything I’m doing is to help go to states,” Paris said. “I am on Tyler’s hip in a lot of races, and he blew me out of the water (at WPIALs last season). It makes me want to train harder to catch back up to him so we can have a race together at states.”

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