Denny Dyroff’s district cross country notebook features the CB West girls’ squad and the CR South boys’ squad and also lists the state qualifiers. (CB West photos provided courtesy of CB West girls' cross country.)
By DENNY DYROFF
It was so nice, they did it twice.
Last year, Central Bucks West’s girls’ cross country team pulled off the impressive postseason double of winning league and district championships. The Bucks took first place at the Suburban One League Continental Conference Championships and then followed with the school’s first-ever District 1 Class AAA championship a week later
This year, the CB West girls claimed their second straight SOL Continental title with a comfortable win at Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus. Last Saturday the Bucks returned to the course in Hellertown and turned in a sparkling performance to win their second straight District 1 Class AAA crown.
At the district meet, the Bucks put all five scorers in the top 33 to score 104 points and narrowly edge West Chester Henderson, which scored 111.
Henderson was led by freshman phenom Jenna Mulhern, who finished 18 seconds faster than anyone else in the race. The Warriors also had runners place fifth and sixth. But, Henderson’s fifth runner came in 72nd and paved the way for CB West’s team victory.
“West Chester Henderson is a real good team,” said CB West assistant coach and team spokesperson Kevin Munnelly. “Their frontrunner freshman is really good. She ran an unbelievable race. We knew they were a really good team.”
Currently, Central Bucks West is ranked second in the state – sandwiched between top-ranked North Allegheny from District 7 and third-ranked Henderson.
West ran against North Allegheny at the PIAA Foundation meet in Hershey during the regular season and finished runner-up to the Tigers. In their only other invitational meets this season, the Bucks took the top spot at the Souderton Twilight meet and won the PTXC meet in Kutztown.
The CB West girls really shone at last weekend’s District 1 meet.
Sophomore Julia Flood finished seventh with her junior teammate Piper Wilson four places back in 11th. Sophomore Emmi Simon crossed the line at number 21. Junior Grace Kolbe and senior Darby Roth were next across at 32nd and 33rd respectively. The Bucks’ other runners were seniors Kate Jenkinson, who placed 37thand Shannen Roi, who was 81st.
“These girls really like each other, and they run together well,” said Munnelly. “Julia and Piper really key off each other. Darby, Emmi, Kate and Grace work really well together and Shannen stays as close as possible. It’s a pleasure to watch them run.
“Shannen, who came to us from Kentucky this year, ran a 19:55. She didn’t do this kind of running in Kentucky. If you have a team whose seventh runner runs a 19:55, you’re blessed.”
Central Bucks West has competed at a high level of excellence all season.
“We’re 6-0 in dual meets with three perfect shutouts,” said Munnelly. “At the Continental meet, we scored 26 points and repeated as champs. When they combined all three Suburban 1 races, we also beat everybody.”
When a team starts the season with four of its top five runners – all of whom finished in the top 30 at last year’s district meet – it has a right to expect good things.
“Last year, Kiki (head coach Kiki Bell) and I sat the girls down in mid-November,” said Munnelly. “We told them – you have to understand that everyone will be shooting to beat you.
“When they came back this August, they had all done their work from the summer. From the way they ran in those early workouts, we could tell that they had done the work that they needed to do.
“Last year, we finished ninth at state (PIAA Class AAA Championships). This year, they are hungry to do better at the state meet. It’s not overwhelming with North Allegheny. With five runners, they all have to bring their ‘A’ game. There are three teams (North Allegheny, Central Bucks West, West Chester Henderson) with 15 runners. That’s a lot of variables.
“Our girls all improved their district times by a lot. Grace went from 19:29 to 19:08 and Darby from 19:46 to 19:09. Julia dropped 22 seconds and Piper 15 seconds. They all rose to the occasion.”
Now, they need to rise to the occasion one more time – at the 2018 PIAA Class AAA Championships which will be held November 3 on the state course at Hersheypark.
On the boys’ side, Council Rock –as usual -- is sending a team to Hershey to compete this Saturday.
No surprise, you say – Council Rock North has sent a team to states every season for what seems like a gazillion years.
But, wait – this year, the team is Council Rock South.
At last Saturday’s District 1 Class AAA meet, C.R. South placed third with 218 points and was topped only by Downingtown West with 71 and Unionville with 120.
“We felt like we’d have a pretty good year,” said C.R. South coach Paul Wilson. “I don’t know if we thought it would be this good. We have a very improved team. Four of our top seven from last year returned – and we had a very strong sophomore class. We had a group of late bloomers.
“We started the season at the Abington Invitational and finished second to Great Valley. Great Valley was considered to be one of the better teams in the district and they just missed making states last week. After that meet, we thought that if we kept working hard, we could make it to states.”
The Hawks posted a perfect 6-0 record in dual meets. In other invitational meets, they won the Council Rock North Invitational and finished runner-up to Twin Valley at the William Tennent Invitational.
“The Council Rock North Invitational was a highlight,” said Wilson. “We won that, and it gave us a lot of confidence. We had one invitational in each part of the season. We got three trophies as a reward -- and a show of our continuous goal of making states a reality.
“Our conference meet results were very, very good. We went 1-2-3-4-7 for 17 points. That’s a really impressive score – better than we expected. That showed that there was more than a good possibility they could be a state team.”
C.R. South’s boys came through big-time at the district meet.
Senior Collin Ochs finished 15th with his classmate Kyle Kutney one place back at 16th. Juniors Shana Goldman and Christopher Sears also finished close together with Goldman 42nd and Sears 46th. The Hawks’ final scorer was Andrew Belder at number 99. South’s other finishers were Alex Goldman at 117 and Scotty Ulrick at 134.
“Collin Ochs ran really well,” said Wilson, who ran for Abington High and Juniata College. “Our first three finishers improved their times from districts by 30 seconds each. For one week, that’s a lot of time to take off. The others took 12-17 seconds off their times.
“Collin and Kyle were always within a step of each other at districts – never more than a second or two apart. On the last four-tenths of a mile, they were shoulder-to-shoulder. Shane and Chris also ran close with Shane always just a little ahead. Andrew was the last piece of the puzzle. He did his job.”
Central Bucks East’s boys and girls qualified for states with fifth-place finishes at districts. The boys’ state-meet contingent includes Andrew Conte, David Endres, Sean Lahetta, Jack McManus, Matthew Miller, Shaun Pello, Cade Sands, and Cole Sands. The girls’ team includes Cameron Billingsley, McKenna Brophy, Grace Carpenter, Claudia Eder, Katie Hajerich, Brooke Martin, Courtney Rowland, and Campbell Sequine.
SOL qualifiers in the boys’ race are North Penn’s Noah Demis and Samir Razi, Cheltenham’s Jason Cornelison, Upper Dublin’s Ben Brugger, Central Bucks West’s Michael Samson, William Tennent’s Sean Rahill, Wissahickon’s Ben Hoyer, and Central Bucks East’s Andrew Gillespie, Pennridge’s Ethan Saville, Hatboro Horsham’s Stefano Isabella and Devon Comber and Souderton’s Josiah Moyer.
Individual state-meet qualifiers from Suburban One in the girls’ race are Neshaminy’s Kaylee McCullough and Jordan O’Neil, Council Rock South’s Marisa Kilgarriff, Upper Dublin’s Elaina O’Toole, William Tennent’s Makla Hansen, North Penn’s Maeve Gimbert, Wissahickon’s Leah Dubin, Council Rock North’s Olivia Bing and Lorena Ye, and Souderton’s Lael Flores.
Upper Moreland has two qualifiers for the PIAA Class AA Championships -- Shane Coll in the boys’ race and Jill Kelly in the girls’ race.