Three Baldwin runners finish season as state cross country qualifiers

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Friday, November 8, 2019 | 7:58 PM


Three top runners in the Baldwin cross country program — senior Teddy Boehm, junior Gina Bolla and sophomore Dominick Ditoro — qualified for the PIAA finals held Nov. 2 in Hershey.

“All three are great athletes but better young adults,” coach Rich Wright said. “All three are well liked by their teammates and coaches. They have put in hard work and given it their all to reach states.”

Boehm and Ditoro placed 20th and 24th, respectively, in the WPIAL Class AAA boys championship meet Oct. 24 at Cal (Pa.).

Boehm, who also qualified for last year’s state meet with a 15th-place WPIAL showing, crossed the finish line in 17 minutes, 17 seconds, running a 5:34 pace per mile.

“Teddy worked really hard coming back from injuries,” Wright said. “Teddy is quiet and easy going. His focus was always top 20 and returning to states. In his heart, he wanted to finish in the top 15 again, but the heat and a talented field got him 20th.”

Boehm is a four-year letterman and is set to become a third-year letterwinner in indoor and outdoor track. He has also earned two letters in volleyball.

“I was thrilled with my (WPIAL) race,” Boehm said. “A simple strategy of getting out and hanging on as long as possible was just enough to get me to states. I went out a little quick with a five-minute first mile, putting me in 11th place, but I started to die off a little after the second mile.”

Boehm sat out the first part of the season recuperating from a shoulder injury.

“At the end of summer, I separated the AC joint in my shoulder and had to take a month off,” he said. “That meant I didn’t get much of a preseason, and in my eagerness to get back, I overdid it and pulled my hamstring.

“I owe getting back to states this year to my coaches taking a little extra care to make sure I got strong and stayed healthy.”

Boehm, a Latin Club member, plans to continue his running career in college and study mechanical engineering.

“Between school and running, I don’t have much time for much else,” he said.

Ditoro finished a few spots behind Boehm at the WPIAL meet with a time of 17:27, good for a 5:37 mile pace.

It has been a season of growth for Ditoro, a letterman in cross country and indoor and outdoor track as a freshman. He posted a PR time of 17:11.77 at the Mingo Invitational.

“Some courses are tougher than others, and I learned to make adjustments and become more confident in my running plan as the season went on,” Ditoro said.

“We run with a ‘team first’ mentality and we try to win as many meets as we can. I think my summer training and my coaches, Coach Wright and Coach Setree, along with (advice from) retired coach Bunny Schmidt, allowed me to exceed my expectations.”

Ditoro used the Tri-State Track Coaches Association invitational as a stepping stone to the WPIAL event.

“I approached the race hoping to better my time (17:32) from the Tri-State meet the week before,” Diroto said. “That race, also at the Cal U course, is an indicator of how close you can be to qualifying for states. I kept that in mind while training the week before, and my coaches helped me prepare a training and race strategy that would hopefully allow me to finish in a position to qualify.”

Bolla qualified for the PIAA Class AAA girls finals with a 20:49 at the WPIAL meet, placing 27th. 

“Gina has been on a mission since missing to qualify for the 3,200 in track,” Wright said. “All summer and throughout the season, she ran with the boys to be stronger and faster.

“Gina is very quiet and very focused on her goals. Her (WPIAL) race was nowhere near her best. She will be ready for states.

Bolla logged a 6:43 mile pace at the WPIAL event.

“WPIALs was so exciting this year,” Bolla said. “It was hotter than normal and the course was muddy, but the race was so much fun. The competition and the energy was amazing.”

Bolla attained a personal-best time of 19:56 at this year’s Red, White and Blue Classic at Schenley Park. She is a three-time letterwinner and has earned two letters in both indoor and outdoor track.

Bolla has participated in dancing for 13 years and in martial arts for eight years. She has attained black belt status in karate.

She owns a 4.16 GPA and is a member of the Math League, Service Club, Mini Thon and Earth Club, as well being a volunteer in the Special Olympics program.

“My 2019 season was amazing,” Bolla said. “I trained very hard going into the season and during the season, and this has been my best cross country season so far.”

As a team, Baldwin’s boys corralled sixth place at WPIALs.

Other leading runners for the Highlanders were sophomores Bobby Konesky (17:31) and Zach Wyse (18:17), freshmen Phillip Pegher (18:52) and Andrew Barrett (18:56) and junior Xander Rayburg (19:22).

“Bobby Konesky missed qualifying for states by two spots,” Wright said. “He will be someone to be reckoned with this track season and the next two years in cross country.”

Baldwin’s girls team finished 15th in Class AAA.

Bolla set the pace for junior Lena Barkat (22:18), freshman Rebekah Priano (23:13), senior Makenzie Shandor (23:24), and sophomores Greta Gorman (23:28), Abbey Seng (23:53) and Morgan Altavilla (25:50).

Wright lauded the performances of both squads.

“Those are our best (team) finishes in years,” he said.

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