Shaler runners make impact at postseason cross country meets

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Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 9:17 PM


Tyler Paszkowski, Dalton Kalbaugh and Samantha Hennen have developed into great examples for Shaler Area cross country coach Justin Eskra.

Put time and effort into the sport and future Titans can follow their lead.

The trio made a big splash at the WPIAL Class AAA cross country championships, turning in performances that led to berths in the state meet.

Kalbaugh, who placed 10th with a time of 16 minutes, 53 seconds, and Hennen, who finished 17th on the girls’ side in 20:31, both clinched their second consecutive berth. Paszkowski qualified for the first time, coming in 19th with a time of 17:16.

“Entering WPIALs, states was my goal, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I would have to perform my best,” Paszkowski said. “Coach had us well prepared, and he was a huge help throughout the season.”

Eskra said he wasn’t worried about Paszkowski making his debut on the big stage. Paszkowski, who is also an accomplished dek hockey player, has the right mentality.

“Tyler doesn’t buckle under pressure,” Eskra said. “We talk about where he needs to be in a race and he just says, ‘Sure, I’ll get it done’. He’s mature for his age.”

Shaler’s boys team placed 16th at WPIALs with 452 points and had three of the top 40 finishers. In addition to the two state qualifiers, sophomore Ryan Paris finished in 17:40 to place 36th. On the girls’ side, the Titans placed 21st.

“In terms of where we are heading program-wise, we had four girls come onto the team late. We are getting the kids to come out,” Eskra said. “They are talking about how successful they were. If I come out, I can be part of a team that is winning. We are one big family.”

All of Shaler’s competitors who qualified for states got a taste of what they could expect when they competed in the PIAA Foundation meet Sept. 21 at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey, the same venue where the state meet is held.

Hennen placed 45th at that race with a time of 20:59, while Paszkowski came in 145th with a time of 18:59. That allowed Shaler to plan for the second time around.

“Our race strategy is to be in the top pack in the first mile and push through,” Eskra said. “We don’t want to worry about another kid from another school I should be running with. We’ve done all the training and we are strong enough and as tough as anyone there.”

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