Red White and Blue Classic crowns cross country winners

Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 5:35 PM

The 17th annual Red, White and Blue Classic crowned winners that were among the favorites and a newcomer who never had run the course.

Brownsville sisters Gionna and Jolena Quarzo ran their first race at Schenley Park and put regional cross country runners on notice after posting the best two times in the combined girls Class A and AA race.

Gionna, a senior and two-time PIAA 3,200 champion, crossed the finish line at 18 minutes, 5.40 seconds and held a comfortable 50-second lead over her freshman sister.

“This felt great even though I wanted to get a better time, but it’s OK at the beginning of the season,” Quarzo said. “It was also nice having Jolena finish second behind me. She pushes me to be better every day, and I try to do the same for her.”

Mt. Lebanon senior Patrick Anderson, the reigning state Class AAA champion, ran the best time of the day at 15:44:24, an 8-second improvement over last year when he finished fourth.

Anderson used his experience at Schenley Park to his advantage and said he feels better now than at the start of last season. Fox Chapel senior Christian Fitch followed Anderson by 13 seconds.

“You kind of know it’s going to go out fast from the start, so I didn’t want to push at first,” Anderson said. “I wanted to hang out in front with the rest of the guys and push my pace coming (uphill in the second half).”

Bethel Park junior Emily Carter won the girls Class AAA race and took nearly two minutes off of her time from a year ago.

She finished the course in 17:41:85 and outran Morgantown sophomore Lea Hatcher (17:45.70) in the final stretch.

“This just kind of shows me where I’m at even though it’s still kind of early (in the season),” Carter said. “It’s my biggest invitational, so I’ll just keep working hard and try to get better for WPIALs.”

Beaver junior Will Lamb outran Blackhawk senior Jack Aulbach in 16:19.44 with a 9-second margin.

“We run together a lot, and to beat someone like him is just crazy,” Lamb said. “I never thought this day would come. He’s the standard.”

Lamb placed 27th in last year’s invitational but learned he was running with an iron deficiency, causing him to fatigue quickly in races.

“We learned what was happening and got things fixed, but I still finished eighth in WPIAL last year,” Lamb said. “I knew that wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I trained as hard as I could this summer and it’s paying off.”

OLSH senior Haley Hamilton ran the course in 19:31.70, the fastest girls Class A time, followed by North Catholic’s Alaina Hicks, Julia Zalenski and Emma Macdonald.

Riverview junior Mason Ochs had the fastest boys Class A race at 16:44.32 and was followed by Marion Center’s Hunter Armstrong and Elk County Catholic’s Ben Hoffman.

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