Runners get to test ‘The Hill’ at Tri-State Coaches cross country meet
Thursday’s annual Tri-State Coaches Association cross country championships at Cal (Pa.) served as a preview for the WPIAL championships, set for Oct. 25.
Since the WPIAL was asked not to return to Cooper’s Lake Campgrounds after the 2017 season, district officials decided to take the championship event to Cal for the next two years.
It’s a course many WPIAL runners consider the toughest in the state.
Located at Roadman Park on Route 88 between California and West Brownsville, the course is famous for its dreaded hill.
First-time runners say the hill can play with your emotions. For the runners who have run the course, maybe not so much.
“This course is tricky,” Brownsville junior Gionna Quarzo said after winning the Class AA race Thursday in 19 minutes, 26.34 seconds. “Because the first mile is flat, you really don’t want to go out too fast because you’ll kill your legs for the hill. You need your legs for the hill and the kick home.”
The hill is located around the first mile marker. The first part of the hill is a steep downhill slope.
“You have to watch yourself going down,” Mt. Lebanon senior Patrick Anderson said after winning the Class AAA boys race. “You can wear yourself out if you go too fast down the hill. You want to pace yourself so you have enough energy to get back to the top.
“The main hill is a series of little hills at the bottom. I was able to take the lead on the hill, and then I pushed it in.”
Anderson (16:8.55) held off North Allegheny senior Zach Kinne (16:17.73), who transferred into the school from Illinois. Kinne finished second in the Illinois state meet in the 3,200.
“The courses in Illinois are flat,” Kinne said. “The coaches wanted us to come here and get a feel of the course so we’re better prepared for next week. Running cross country here is more power races because of the hills and mud.”
Anderson said he considers the Cal course tougher than the Parkview Course in Hershey, the site of the PIAA meet.
“With the WPIAL meet coming up, I wanted to post a good time and build off it,” Anderson said. “I know there are a couple things I’ll do differently next week.”
Fox Chapel senior Sarena Seeger (19:18.98) used a late kick and passed North Allegheny junior Hannah Lindgren (19:20.47) in the final 50 meters to win Class AAA girls race.
“I hadn’t run here since my freshman season, so I was eager to see how it was,” Seeger said. “You have to be smart when you run this race. You want to start out strong, but you don’t want to overdo it. You want to have something left.
“Hannah led the entire race, and I kept pace with her and Bethel Park’s Emily Carter. I just had a better kick at the end.”
Greensburg Central Catholic freshman Corinn Brewer (19:44.47) was pleased with her time in winning the Class A race. She dropped more than a minute off her time from a race earlier at Cal.
“I learned a lot from that race,” Brewer said. “I started too fast. This time I paced myself better.”
Quaker Valley junior Daniel Ford (17:03.83) said he didn’t know what to expect after winning the Class AA boys race and running the course for the first time.
“I came here in the summer and looked at it, but it’s a lot different when you run it,” Ford said. “I know what to expect now, and I’m looking forward to next week’s WPIAL championship.”
Carlynton sophomore Desmond Corrado (18:01.39) edged Riverside sophomore Colby Belczyk for the Class A boys title.