Young roster provides plenty of highlights for Fox Chapel cross country team

Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 11:01 AM

It wasn’t quite the finish Fox Chapel was hoping for, but cross country coach Tom Moul had plenty of positive takeaways from the recent WPIAL finals.

The Foxes finished sixth as a team in the championship meet at Cal (Pa.).

“I was a little disappointed,” Moul said. “I thought maybe we could get top five, but overall, I was pleased. Of our top seven from last season, five had graduated. We really were kind of young this year, so I was happy how the guys came together and worked hard. And we won our section, which is always our goal.”

Fox Chapel junior Rowan Gwin and sophomore Ethan Vaughn qualified for the PIAA meet in Hershey. Gwin finished sixth overall with a time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds.

“It’s been great,” Moul said. “Rowan kind of started to improve in his freshman year. You can see he was really starting to get the fire for improving his performance. Since then, he’s gradually improved his performance and his work ethic. He’s been such a great leader, a No. 1 guy all season.”

“It was a good performance with a really fast group of guys,” Gwin said. “I was happy with my performance. Having Ethan train with me has really helped him out and he proved it in this meet.”

Vaughn came in 14th at 17:03. Gwin and Vaughn both received medals for finishing in the top 15.

“As a freshman last year, it was kind of a surprise what he was able to do,” said Moul. “We never really expect freshmen to make much of an impact on the boys team. But he did. He was one of our top five on a really good team. He’s been able to elevate himself this year.”

“It was a much faster race than what I had done,” Vaughn said. “It hurt a lot more and it was mentally draining. I was determined to improve from last year.”

The 2021 WPIAL meet saw Vaughn finish 33rd with a time of 18:25 at the same course.

“That’s the fourth time I’ve run that course,” Vaughn said. “Given more experience, I was able to memorize the course, and it wasn’t as bad as the first time I ran it.”

Vaughn was looking forward to the trip to Hershey for the state final, which was scheduled for Nov. 8.

“It has a lot of diversity, hilly then flat. It’s a quality course and I hope to do well,” Vaughn said.

Moul said this year the WPIAL has decreased the number of team that go to the state meet.

Fox Chapel has had so many athletes attain state level that he can offer the two runners this year some advice.

Said Moul: “I’ve talked about some of our guys in the past who have medaled at the WPIAL (meet) and have gone on to medal at the states. The WPIAL is a strong district. I’ve always thought that if you could get a medal here, you can get one out there. The top 25 medals there.

“I think it will be a tall order for Ethan, but he should be able to do it, and Rowan as well.”

“I feel I’ve been able to improve by the end of each season,” Gwin said. “I think I can really run well in the big meets. After my freshman year, I really bought into the training and it shows.”

Gwin has run the Hershey course three previous times.

Said Gwin: “I actually like the Hershey course a lot. I run really well there. It’s a hilly course, then pretty flat with one big hill at the end. I think it’s a great course for a state meet.”

Here’s how the five other Fox Chapel competitors finished at the WPIAL meet:

• Sophomore Altai Yumak 47th at 18:13.

• Junior Max Kizer 58th at 18:20.

• Sophomore Nick Clump 67th at 18:31.

• Freshman Michael Costello 76th at 18:39.

• Sophomore David Black 80th at 18:46.

Girls finish 14th

The Fox Chapel girls finished 14th at the WPIAL meet. None finished in the top 15. Finishing in the top 100 were junior Emily Harajda (53rd at 20:26), freshman Marin Airik (72nd at 22:07), freshman Charlotte McLeland (86th at 22:28.3) and junior Clara Kelley (88th at 22:28.8).


More Cross Country

Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Greensburg Salem’s Ashlan Price
A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Burrell’s Grace Nesko
North Hills senior adds cross country to 3-sport resume, gives team boost
Works pays off when Fox Chapel runner shatters personal best time
Best races are ahead for Freeport junior cross country runner Michael Braun