Sewickley-area runners excel at PIAA cross country championships

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 7:58 PM

Three Sewickley-area runners earned medals at the PIAA cross country championships Nov. 2 in Hershey.

Quaker Valley seniors Annie Wicker (19 minutes, 22 seconds) and Daniel Ford (16:49) placed 12th and 22nd in the Class AA girls and boys races, respectively.

Eden Christian Academy senior Eric Gronbeck (16:54) came in 16th among Class A boys.

Quaker Valley coach Jim Cohen said Wicker and Ford, as well as sophomore Anna Cohen (Jim’s daughter), achieved substantial personal best.

“Daniel, in particular, ran well,” Jim Cohen said. “His time was over 30 seconds faster than last year, which is a great way to close out his high school career.

“Annie (was) 20 seconds faster than last year, and Anna ran a (20:43), which was a good place to be as a sophomore.”

Wicker, the 2017 and ’18 WPIAL champion, said although she placed higher in previous meets, she was happy to be faster.

“It was a good way to end things,” she said.

Eden Christian coach Kelly Gronbeck was proud to present her son his medal at the award ceremony.

“Getting to do this as his coach, and mom, is a highlight I will never forget,” she said.

The Eden Christian boys, the only team to qualify from the Sewickley area, finished ninth.

Joining Eric Gronbeck in the lineup were senior Wes Rodu, freshman Sean Aiken, sophomore Ian Bilger, freshman AJ Wagstaff, sophomore Brandon Gunzburg and freshman Noah Reaoch.

“There were three returners from last year’s state-qualifying team (Eric Gronbeck, Rodu and Bilger), and all of them significantly lowered their times,” Kelly Gronbeck said.

Rodu was proud of the Warriors, who placed third in the WPIAL championship Oct. 24 after winning their first section title.

“Our top-10 finish made for a great ending to our already successful season,” he said. “We enjoyed fast times and were happy to have accomplished the goals we set for ourselves.

“Eric Gronbeck’s top-25 finish only added to our excitement.”

Eden Christian junior Katelyn Shaver, the lone Warrior in the girls event, improved.

“Katelyn took 44 seconds off her WPIAL time and was significantly ahead of her predicted finish,” Kelly Gronbeck said.

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