Riverview cross country runner Ochs continues upward trend

Sunday, September 8, 2019 | 7:09 PM

As a freshman, Mason Ochs was the ninth runner on the Riverview boys cross country team and didn’t compete at WPIALs.

After that 2017 season, he took advantage of numerous winter training sessions, got a boost from a promising first outdoor track and field season — including work with then-senior distance standouts Ben Barnes and Michael Komaniak — and continued to log many miles into the summer.

“It all really boosted my confidence and my ability to successfully run those distances with endurance,” Ochs said.

The offseason work translated to a marked jump in performance and accomplishment when he returned to competition last fall.

He placed fourth at the WPIAL Class A championship meet and was the top sophomore finisher.

Ochs took 17th at states in Hershey, Riverview’s fourth-ever boys state medalist. He was named an Alle-Kiski Valley all-star by the area’s coaches.

“At the start of the season, nobody really knew who I was,” Ochs said. “I felt really proud of myself that a lot of the hard work paid off. I also felt proud of my team. We had lost 10 seniors from the year before, and I don’t think anyone expected us to do what we did (undefeated section champion, WPIAL Class A runner-up and eighth place at states). That was pretty awesome.”

Ochs is hoping to take that next step as a leader of the Raiders boys squad and also improve on top personal results.

He made his mark Saturday at the annual high-level Red, White & Blue Classic at Schenley Park with a personal best of 16 minutes, 44.32 seconds to take first out of 140 in the boys Class A race. He was fifth in the Class A and AA combined standings and 13th when factoring in Class AAA.

“I felt really good, and I thought I could’ve gone faster,” said Ochs, who was fifth in last year’s Class A race with a time of 17:00.79. “The hill hit me kind of hard, but overall, it was a good race for me.”

Ochs said he also was encouraged by the Riverview boys team performance (first, Class A) that saw junior Gideon Deasy (fourth, 17:00.23), senior Jacob Sullivan (12th, 17:47.44) and sophomores Lucas Wilson (15th, 17:59.55) and Parker Steele (16th, 18:03.41) pick up individual awards for top-20 finishes.

Sophomore Ty Laughlin finished just outside the individual awards in 21st (18:24.93).

Riverview was not able to get a crack at defending WPIAL Class A champion Winchester Thurston, which ran in the Class AAA race.

“Mason is running so well, and he continues to remain humble in all this success,” Riverview coach Palma Ostrowski said. “He understands where he is right now and what he needs to do to get even faster. A top-10 finish at states is one of his main goals. But he also is so focused on team goals and helping his teammates run their best.”

The Riverview boys, a three-time WPIAL runner-up, hope to qualify for states for the fifth consecutive season.

This summer, Ochs was invited to take part in a three-day Olympic Development Program cross country camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., with some of the top runners from throughout the northeast and several of the top instructors in the sport.

Training focused on running skills and agility along with mental attitude and race strategy.

“It was an incredible experience,” Ochs said. “I connected so well with the other runners because we all have a common goal to be the best we can be. It was so beneficial to be running in that environment. There were runners there that had accomplished so much and even made it to nationals in running. In a way, it was kind of humbling because everyone there was right with me or they were 10 times better.”

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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