Pine-Richland runners looking for strong finish at WPIAL championships

Friday, October 19, 2018 | 7:36 PM

In the last few weeks, the Pine-Richland cross country team has been collecting victories.

The girls team (5-2) in particular has been trending in the right direction after three consecutive wins in their final Section 3-AAA meets and a first-place finish in the 13-team Bill Lennox XC Invitational held in New Castle on Oct. 6.

With a strong regular season coming to a close and the WPIAL Class AAA meet set for Thursday at Cal (Pa.), coach Chaz Connolly said his girls team could be capable of accomplishing something no Rams group has before.

“We’re aiming for a top-3 finish with the girls at WPIALs. We have never done that before at the Class AAA level in our school’s history,” Connolly said. “We’ve been in triple-A for 20 years, and we’ve never finished top 3.

“If you look at all the teams we’ve faced this year, if you add up our section meets and all the teams we’ve faced at invitationals, we’re at 50 wins and four losses for this season.”

The only WPIAL teams to top the Pine-Richland girls are Seneca Valley, Fox Chapel and North Allegheny. The Raiders beat the Rams by a single point early, a deficit Connolly said can be mitigated by his girls team coming into WPIALs healthy and at full strength.

Depth is the biggest advantage for the Pine-Richland girls, who have been led by freshman Meredith Price and sophomore Leah Kilgore.

Behind the underclassmen duo, freshman Stella Fannie, senior Tresa Coon, senior Meghan McLoughlin, junior Annabelle Nielsen and freshman Elizabeth Hunkele will look to boost the team’s standing with strong finishes at the WPIAL meet.

The Pine-Richland boys team (3-4) also enjoyed a strong close to their regular season by racking up three straight wins against foes from Section 3.

Although the boys do not possess the same depth as the girls, they are expecting big things from their top trio in sophomore Victor Williams and seniors Andrew Gallogly and Luke Zak.

“For the boys, we’d like to get into the top 10. We have three boys who could go to states, but our remaining boys are very young. We want those younger guys to have a good finish at WPIALs, something that they can learn from and use to set them up for upcoming seasons,” Connolly said.

“But for Victor and our two seniors, Andrew and Luke, we’d like to get them to states, and we think they’re capable of doing that.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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