Pine-Richland cross country teams picking up the pace

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Friday, September 20, 2019 | 7:52 PM


After finishing fifth out of 26 teams at the 17th annual Red, White & Blue Classic at the Schenley Oval, the Pine-Richland girls cross country team is trending upward as it continues to make its way through its 2019 schedule.

Sophomore Meredith Price and freshman Natalie McLean led the charge for the Rams, taking 18th and 23rd place, respectively. Not far behind was sophomore Elizabeth Hunkele, who also notched a top-50 finish in the highly competitive annual cross country event.

“The girls are running as a group, and they’re performing well,” coach Mark Hunkele said. “Meredith and Natalie have been up front for the most part all season and have been finishing within about 5 to 10 seconds of each other. Elizabeth has finished close behind them regularly. And behind those three, it’s been a mix of different girls. It’s a very competitive group.”

Sophomores Stella Fannie and Audrey Dekunder consistently have been in the top-10 mix for the girls, as have freshman Breanna Franchak and senior Annabelle Nielsen.

Meanwhile, Leah Kilgore, a junior and an experienced runner at the varsity level, is nursing an injury but is expected back soon.

While the boys were not able to manage a top-five finish at the Red, White & Blue Classic, the young group of runners has shown solid signs of progression this season.

The top runner for the Pine-Richland boys has been Victor Williams. The junior has served as the pacesetter, and junior George Nix and sophomore Nick Labuda have added a degree of consistency behind him.

“Victor is running great so far. He’s the No. 1 runner, and he’s been placing well with solid times,” Hunkele said.

“George is in his first year running for us, and he’s getting better and better and Nick is running consistently, too. Our goal is always to develop the team so that we can make it to states for both the boys and the girls every year. The goal is to keep pushing forward with this young group and we’re going to see how well they can do together as a team.”

Seniors Dan Krill and Max Hudak are the captains for the boys team.

Other top-10 runners for the group include Chris Fisher, Joseph London, Quinn Pritchard, Nick King, Colby Ohlund, Luke Waltrip, Luke Farrar and Logan Guise.

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