Plum runners prepare for postseason meets

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Sunday, October 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Plum boys and girls cross country teams have their eyes focused on preparation for the WPIAL Class AAA championships in a couple of weeks at Cal (Pa.).

The Mustangs were able to test their progress with competition at last week’s Division I, Section 4 championship meet at Northmoreland Park.

For the sixth year, Plum joined teams such as Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, Gateway and Central Catholic/Oakland Catholic in a one-day event, as opposed to the more traditional series of dual or tri-meets.

Plum coach Stephanie Lednak said her runners performed well on the challenging Northmoreland course in temperatures that hovered around the 80-degree mark.

“Our schedule had some changes this year with the Kiski Invitational not happening,” she said. “It kind of disrupted things we wanted to accomplish in competition, but the kids bounced back and took advantage of some added rest and also worked hard in training.

“Coming into the section meet, the kids were fresh and focused. They handled it really well. It was hot, but it was hot for everyone else. The kids rose to the occasion and achieved some good results. It was a good check-in for where they are right now.”

The section meet came just a little over two weeks after a number of the same teams were not able to compete there. The Kiski Area Invitational, set for Sept. 17 the same course, was canceled the morning of the meet because of police activity in the park.

But several of the Plum runners had experience on the course from past seasons.

“We knew the course pretty well and what to expect,” said senior Ashley Persia, who placed 12th in the girls race with a time of 22 minutes, 32.2 seconds. “We hadn’t raced a real 5K in the past couple of weeks (Red, White and Blue Invite on Sept. 11), so this was a good restart to racing to get us on the right track for WPIALs.”

Persia said she felt pretty good racing in the warm conditions.

“I think I started out a little fast. After the first mile, I was pacing pretty well, even with that hill,” she said.

Plum took sixth overall in the girls team standings with a 3-5 dual-meet record.

The Plum boys finished fifth overall as the individual-scoring runners compiled 116 place points.

The Mustangs ended with a 4-4 record against the other eight teams.

Junior Connor Pivirotto led the way for the Plum boys with a fourth-place finish in 17:47.9. Fellow junior Nate Meinke took 19th (18:45.7).

“Personally, I was pretty happy with my race,” Pivirotto said. “I definitely think I could’ve done better. That hill in the middle of the course is really rough. Finishing up, I was pretty happy. I caught someone at the end. It felt good to help my team that way.

“We’ve had cooler days recently, so it being that warm was kind of a surprise. It was a little draining, but we got through it.”

Plum was set to return to action Saturday at the Slippery Rock Invitational at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

The Mustangs also were to celebrate senior day Tuesday with a meet against Avonworth at Boyce Park.

Plum’s final tune-up for WPIALs is Oct. 21 at the Tri-State Coaches meet on the same Cal (Pa.) course where WPIALs will be run Oct. 28.

“The kids have worked extremely hard and are pretty excited to see what they can do over the next couple of weeks leading to WPIALs,” Lednak said. “Working to stay healthy and training smart is a key part of that.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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