Shaler runners looking forward to WPIAL championship meet

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Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 11:27 PM


The WPIAL Class AAA cross country championships are fast approaching, and Shaler coach Justin Eskra is ready to see how his team performs.

Recent results have Eskra believing his runners are trending in the right direction. Sophomore Dalton Kalbaugh raced around the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in 17 minutes, 37 seconds Oct. 6 to place second at the Bill Lennox Invitational.

Mars junior Zachary Leachman won the event with a time of 17:14.

“With where we are as a team, I’m excited to see moving forward what we can do at the championships,” Eskra said. “We are starting to perform. It’s been a little bit of a long year, but it’s starting to come back piece-by-piece.”

On the girls side, Samantha Hennen (seventh, 21:09) and Danielle Eshelman (15th, 22:05) also finished in the top 15 at the event. All of Shaler’s runners are inching close to competing at WPIALs, which will be held at Cal (Pa.) after being moved from Cooper’s Lake.

The new course will be foreign to the Titans. Shaler will run there for the first time Thursday during the Tri-State Track and Field Coaches Association Invitational.

“The kids will get a feel for the course, and it will be run like a championship,” Eskra said. “There are a couple of decent hills, and we will talk about race strategy.”

Shaler has been focusing on reducing mileage for the past few weeks.

Eskra wants to make sure the Titans are well rested for the finals.

“A lot of our track work has been upping our base on the track in terms of our workouts,” Eskra said. “Right now, we are starting to taper down mileage-wise. Someone like Dalton, who is in the 50-mile range, we will start pulling him down each week to get him to 35 miles to let him rest before the championships.”

Eskra was pleased with how his team performed in dual meets.

The girls’ team, which hadn’t won a meet in several seasons, was able to get into the win column several times.

“They put a couple of wins together this year,” Eskra said. “When you go outside of North Allegheny and Seneca Valley, we were inside 10 or 11 points of winning the meet. In the years’ past, we were losing meets by 20 or 30 points. It’s still not where we want it to be. It’s significant improvement from the beginning of the season.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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