It was a clean sweep for the cross country teams from Central Cambria on Wednesday at the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championships held at the Forest Hills Middle School.
The multi-champion Red Devil girls downed second-place Somerset 35-77 while the boys edged the Golden Eagles
43-44 on the Rangers course, which will also be the site of this year’s District 6 championships on Oct. 26.
“I think the girls ran well but I think they have a better race in them for next Saturday,” Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said. “They’ve been training hard and it was a great race.
“With the boys, since the first day of summer, our boys have been trying to beat Somerset.”
Individually, Westmont Hilltop senior Hannah Dorian was the champion in 19:15 while Bedford sophomore Will Kachman successfully defended his boys title in 16:21.4.
Among the girls finishers, freshmen Samantha Koss and Emma Wess were the highest Central Cambria finishers in third and fourth. The rest of the Red Devils were freshman Sydney Gilkey (sixth), Jordan Hayward (eighth), Jackie Bracken ((14th), Kaitlyn McNeel (17th), Hannah Swope (22nd) and Cassie Gabrielson (26th).
“I think we had four girls in the top eight and three of those four are freshmen,” Wilson said. “I think we have to work on bringing our spread a little closer, one through seven and then I think we will be able to compete at the state level.”
Central Cambria’s Justin Jeffers was third across the line.
The other Red Devils boys were: Javaunte Neumann (5), Bryce Descavich (ninth), Logan Brandis (10th), Mike Walwro (16th), Max Murin (19th), David Barnes (22nd) and Tommy Opdenhoff (33rd).
“Our boys fought every single race to beat Somerset,” Wilson said. “Every time we raced them we kept getting closer. If it wasn’t for Somerset, we wouldn’t be the team that we are today because they have literally made us work hard every single day.”
The Hilltoppers’ Dorian passed Penn Cambria’s Arlee Simendinger near the halfway point of the race and continued to pull away, beating the Panthers’ junior by nearly 20 seconds.
“I kind of wanted to ease my way into it,” Dorian said. “Last time, I started off a little fast and this time I eased my way into it and kicked it up at the end and it worked out all right. I’ve been racing with Arlee all season and she’s a great runner. Coming down the last 800 meters I started to pull away from her.”
Simendinger finished second in the girls race followed by Koss and Wess and Jane Woy of Somerset.
“It was an interesting run and give me an idea about what I need to do for districts,” said Simendinger, who will running in Class a while Dorian will be in AA. “Hannah and I were running side by side most of the time so she gave me good motivation. We really pushed each other a lot.”
Kachman led from the outset but was not happy with his time.
“I wanted to lead the whole time, but I wanted to see what they were doing,” said the Bisons runner, who beat Somerset’s Nick Bastian by 15 seconds. “I really didn’t think I had control the whole race, because the guys behind me just seemed too close. The toughest part today was that it was wet and I didn’t have long enough spikes on. Coming down the hill where you start back up, I almost slipped two times. My time was not as good as I wanted it to be. I want to run a 15:30.”
Somerset’s Ravi Desai was fourth in the boys race.
Note: Central Cambria also had the individual winners in the Junior high races with Wilson’s son, Tyler, claiming the boys crown and Carly Kaschalk winning the girls race.