Riverview boys, girls earn top 3 finishes, PIAA berths at WPIAL cross country meet

Thursday, October 27, 2022 | 8:48 PM

For the first time since 2018, both the Riverview boys and girls cross country teams will run at the PIAA meet in Hershey after they each claimed third place in their Class A races at the WPIAL championships Thursday on the Roadman Park course at Cal (Pa.).

The Raiders boys weren’t able to defend last year’s WPIAL title, but led by senior Amberson Bauer’s fourth-place finish (17 minutes, 11.2 seconds), they secured a spot at states for the ninth time in team history.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart took first place with 68 points. Winchester Thurston was second with 71 points, and Riverview was third (81 points).

“Compared to last year, the competition is a lot harder,” said Bauer, who edged Winchester sophomore Eli DeSimone for fourth by 0.3 seconds.

“Obviously, four very close teams, and we knew that going into it. Ultimately, we picked our spots and went for it. Everyone ran a nice race and gave their best efforts.”

Sophomores Christopher Barnes (ninth, 17:40.9) and Holden Deasy (20th, 18:09), junior Cohen Hoolahan (25th, 18:27) and sophomore Micah Ivy (31st, 18:38.7) rounded out the top five scorers for the Raiders.

The Riverview girls, sixth at WPIALs last year, also will compete at states for the ninth time. It is their first trip since 2018.

Sophomore Lily Bauer and junior Gwyn Fichte were individual state qualifiers last year. They again led the team Thursday, taking 19th (22:08.7) and 24th (22:18.2).

“The hill really hurt this year, but it also felt really good because I knew I was doing it for the team,” said Bauer, who cut close to 42 seconds off her WPIAL time from last year. “I am so happy for everyone. We really crushed it today. It was a total team effort. ”

“It was great to go (to states) last year with Lily, but to be able to all go as a team and race together this year just feels so much better for all of us,” said Fichte, who was overcome with emotion after her race.

Freshmen Grace Johnson (39th, 23:31.7) and Rosa Lascola (40th, 23:35.3) along with junior Jonisha Carlino (45th, 24:02.5) rounded out the top five scoring finishers for the Raiders.

Winchester Thurston scored a low of 58 points to win its first WPIAL title. OLSH was second with 94 points, 17 ahead of Riverview.

Three other A-K Valley runners — all on the boys side — will represent the WPIAL in Class A at the PIAA championships.

Apollo-Ridge sophomore Gabe Kavulic ran at WPIALs for the first time, and he placed 13th in 17:56.4. Vikings coach Bob Desiderato said Kavulic is the first Apollo-Ridge runner to ever qualify for states.

“I felt really good for the first half of the race,” Kavulic said. “But that really big hill was taxing, and it felt like my legs were going to fall off. But I pushed through and finished well.”

Burrell senior Levi Hass (21st, 18:16.7) and Bucs junior Alex Platt (24th, 18:26.7) also will run at Hershey a week from Saturday.

The PIAA this fall set new qualifying parameters for Class 3A boys. The numbers shrank to only the top two teams and the top 10 individuals not on one of the top two teams advancing.

That didn’t stop the Fox Chapel duo of junior Rowan Gwin (seventh overall, 16:37.1) and sophomore Ethan Vaughan (14th, 17:03.8) from qualifying individually for states.

However, Plum senior Connor Pivirotto, who finished 20th overall with a time of 17:23.5, ended up on the outside looking in. When all the places were determined, he was the 11th individual, finishing less than just two seconds behind the final qualifier, Seneca Valley’s Max Smith (17:21.8).

“I feel so bad for Connor,” Plum coach Stephanie Kennedy said. “I know that every kid who lines up on the start line wants to make it to the state meet. It’s really tough for him to just miss, but he ran an awesome race, and we are incredibly proud of him.”

Junior Eliza Miller finished 10th in the 3A girls race to lead Kiski Area, while freshman Sam Plazio and junior Paul Roberts qualified for states in the 2A boys race. Plazio finished 17th and Roberts 24th.

Roberts said he was motivated by the “Squishmellow,” a stuffed toy given to the runner who passes the most opponents down the stretch.

“We didn’t want to go out too hard,” Roberts said. “We wanted to pace ourselves so we would have a lot after the hill. It worked out well.”

Plazio said he was pleased with how his race turned out.

“My goal was to medal, but I just missed that,” Plazio said. “I’m pretty pleased. I wish I would have passed more runners. I’m looking forward now to states.”

Kiski Area coach Tom Berzonsky said both boys ran well and dropped their times from the Tri-State meet a week ago.

“We knew they would have a shot,” Berzonsky said. “They ran great races.”

Roberts said his last two races were his best of the season after coming off an ankle injury.

Miller said she was hoping to do a little better, but she felt a cold slowed her down.

“My time isn’t where I wanted it to be (low 19s),” Miller said. “My goal was to qualify and then get healthy for states.”

Freeport sophomore Michael Braun had a strong race and qualified for the state meet in Class 2A by placing 11th in a time of 17:02.1

“I bettered by time by 40 seconds,” Braun said. “My goal was to go out fast, take it easy and then try to finish strong. My strategy worked. My goal was to run in the low 17s, and I did.”

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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