It was a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference sweep for the boys’ teams at Saturday’s District 6 Cross Country championships at Indian Valley Elementary.
Somerset and Westmont Hilltop took the top spots in Class AA and Class A, respectively, while Richland also earned a Class A berth in the PIAA championship meet set for next Saturday at Hershey.
Westmont had 79 points while Richland finished with 98
“Today was a whole team effort because our normal fourth guy was a little hurt,” Westmont coach Mike Harchick said. “Drew Price came through as our fifth guy, but the theme of running in a pack was huge today. We have a frontrunner in Kevin Dailey, but the rest of the guys, they fed off of it and came through. It’s impressive what these guys did.
Dailey, a senior, was third overall, just behind Williamsburg junior Bryce England, who had a time of 16:51, and Nick Marx of Richland.
The other Hilltoppers finishers were junior Grant Gagnon (11th), senior Mike Walsh (14th), junior Lewie Buchkovich (15th), sophomore Andrew Price (37th), junior Andy Miller (41st) and junior Brandon Leech (48th).
“We had one goal in mind, to win a district title,” Harchick said. “After our conference meet, we didn’t run as well as we thought we should have. But they redeemed themselves quite well today. It’s always been a tradition to do the best that you can and whatever happens, happens. Sports goes in cycles and I’m glad we’re on the top of the cycle.”
Richland coach John Shirt was excited for his kids to head back to the state meet.
“These kids have worked very, very hard this year and there have been a lot of injuries,” Shirt said. “They really pulled through today. It was kind of all or nothing, and the kids really stepped up.
“We knew who the competition would be here today and that the battle would be between us and Westmont and McCort. We just had to run as hard as we possibly could today. The leadership on our team was phenomenal.”
Behind Marx, the other Rams finishers were Julius Eckroth (third), Robert Newsom (22nd), Andrew Murtha (23rd), Tyler Fleming (49th) and Seth Baronie (54th).
Other area qualifiers in Class A included Shawn Lichvar of United, Justin Jeffers of Central Cambria and Ryan Eckenrod of Bishop McCort.
In the Class AA battle, the Golden Eagles finished with 56 points, just ahead of Bedford (64) and Bellefonte Area (80).
“I tried to downplay the pressure, but we knew Bedford was nipping at our heels all year long,” Somerset coach Tom Minnick said. “It’s been really tight and, last week, they got to within two. We knew this was going to be a struggle today with them and Bellefonte, which also has some quality kids. Our kids stepped up when they had to. They ran the first part of the race with their heads, but the last part, they ran the second part with their hearts.”
The Golden Eagles were led by junior Nick Bastian, who finished fifth.
Bastian spent September on the sidelines with an injury.
“It really hurt me to be out the first half because I really wanted to be out there with the team,” Bastian said. “The coaches gave me a lot of advice that I really didn’t want to listen to, but I did. I came in here and ran hard. This was the first time I’ve actually run this course. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a fast course.”
The other Somerset finishers were junior Ravi Desai (seventh), senior Charles Troll (12th), sophomore Shane Ickes (15th), junior Daniel Meyer (17th), sophomore Scott Johnson (18th) and junior Josh Stoppe (22nd).
“Probably our lead runner all year long was Ravi Desai, and he was injured about a month ago and really hurt it at the LHAC Meet so we just shut him down until today,” Minnick said. “We were hoping to get one more good race out of him and that could be the difference between winning and losing. He was able to gut it out, and that was huge.”
The other area qualifiers in Class AA were William Kachman and Zane Baker of Bedford and Josh Patrick of Ligonier Valley.
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