Pine-Richland girls, boys cross country teams finish strong season

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 6:37 PM


The Pine-Richland cross country teams wrapped up their team season with a number of landmark performances at the WPIAL Class AAA cross country championships last week at Cal (Pa.) The girls team took fourth, and the boys team finished 14th.

The girls team tied for the program’s best finish at WPIALs since 1996. The last time a Pine-Richland team earned a place that high was 2010-11, when the girls took fourth.

Coach Mark Hunkele said the group has plenty to be proud of despite narrowly missing out on a top-three finish and their first state championship berth since that 2010-11 season.

“We were happy with the results but also just a little disappointed at the same time because we wanted to make states, and we came just so close to qualifying,” Hunkele said. “But we’re proud of those results, and I know the girls should be happy with all of their performances.

“We knew we were good enough to get to states. We just barely missed out on making the top three. They placed fourth out of 30 teams in AAA, the biggest division. It’s a big accomplishment.”

Freshman Natalie McLean and sophomore Meredith Price led the way, finishing 11th and 12th, respectively. Their efforts were enough to earn a spot in the PIAA championships Nov. 2 in Hershey.

Their finishes also were the best in a WPIAL championship since 2000.

Sophomore Elizabeth Hunkele narrowly missed qualifying for states after finishing 33rd at WPIALs. The other Rams girls who contributed were Annabelle Nielsen, Stella Fannie, Breanna Franchak and Audrey DeKunder.

Meanwhile, junior Victor Williams paced the boys by placing 49th. Sophomore Nick Labuda and Quinn Pritchard also claimed top-100 times, with the Labuda 68th and Pritchard 97th.

“Victor has performed really well. He just had a great season. He was the No. 1 runner all year for us,” Hunkele said. “His goal for next year will be to get to states, and I really think he has a great shot. The rest of the boys all ran really well and kept improving all year long.

“It’s a young team. I fully expect them to continue to get better.

The boys who represented the Rams at WPIALs was rounded out by Chris Fisher, Nick King, Max Hudak and George Nix.

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