RIDGWAY — The District 9 Cross Country Championships were held Saturday at Ridgway’s Grandinetti Elementary School.
The Clearfield girls team continued their strong season by placing second to perennnial D9 kingpin Punxsutawney, while placing three into the PIAA state cross country meet at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey on Saturday November 3.
Qualifying were Paige Mikesell in 4th overall with a time of 20:58, Courtney Smith in 6th with a 21:08, and Kristi Fox in 7th with a 21:11.
Curwensville’s Becca Johnson finished in 18th place with a time of 22:00.
The boys, who finished a distant fourth, were led by sophomore state qualifier Jon Sponsler, who finished 8th with a time of 18:05.
Clearfield Bison Head Coach John Jacob reported on his team’s success at the meet:
This was the team’s most successful day at the District Championships in years. To qualify four athletes for the state championship meet speaks volumes of how hard these kids have worked this season and in the off season. For most of the athletes, the training started way back in June and almost all of the athletes will be moving right into other sports such as wrestling, basketball and swimming.
The Bradford and Punxsutawney girls took the race out really fast and had most of our runners way back in the pack, which put us in last place in the team standings through the first mile. The girls were very patient and capitalized on the mistakes of many of the runners as their pace slowed over the second mile. Claire Mikesell quickly passed several runners and was able to run in 4th place to secure her qualifying spot for the state championship meet. I was very impressed with how Claire attacked at just the right moment and took advantage of some other runner’s mistakes. She ran a very smart race for a freshman and she was able to run with or close to some of the top upperclassmen in the district. From the beginning to end of the season she has really matured as a runner and I am looking forward to seeing how she can perform at the state level. Claire is a special talent and to have a freshman step into the top spot in most of our meets was quite a surprise. She has definitely been one of the biggest keys to the success of our team’s season.
Courtney Smith and Kristi Fox traded places several times throughout the race and made their way through the pack of runners, and going into the third mile also secured two more qualifying spots for the state meet. Courtney had a little bit of a down moment about halfway through the race, being passed by a couple of runners. This can be very hard to come back from, but she did a very nice job to regroup and stay in the race. Over the last mile she made a late surge to pass several runners and improver her placement. Her mental toughness in a race and throughout the season has been her biggest asset and it showed today. Where many runners may have given up, Courtney was able to battle through the adversity and help her team, and in the process achieve her goal of qualifying for the state championships.
Not to be outdone, Kristi Fox has made a huge surge late in the season to also achieve her goal of qualifying for the state championships. Back in September Kristi was almost a full minute away from the last qualifying spot. Over the last month she has been able to focus and steadily improve. Her improvements often challenged Claire and Courtney for the top spot in many of our late races. This was the key to her success today as she was able take that experience and challenge may of the top runners in the district.
Placing second today was quite an achievement for the entire girl’s team. Emily Aveni and Macy Forrest did their part by passing Bradford’s and St Marys’ fifth place runners to move us way up in the team standings. Both girls have really made an impact this season and deserve a lot of the credit for our success.
For the boys, Jon Sponsler was the lone qualifier. He once again showed the maturity and patience it takes to perform well in such a big meet. It took Jon almost two miles to make his way into the last qualifying spot as he passed a runner from St Marys. Where most runners would be satisfied Jon continued to push past two more runners and improve his place in the overall standings. Nerves and lack of confidence can often push a young runner to go out fast with other runners but Jon used his experiences this season to control his pace and save his best racing for when it counted. Coach Todd Winters and I both believe his best race will come at the State Championship meet where his tactics will really be put to the test.
The rest of the boys also had good races based on their times but being short a runner moved us down in the team standings. Josiah McClarren came away with his second best time of the season and was the second overall freshman in the race. He will definitely be an impact in years to come.
Kenton Clime also kept his time in the low 19’s and was able to move up in the individual standings from last year.
Vince Kovach also had a good meet and went out hard to try and claim the final qualifying spot, but the fast pace took its toll on him over the final mile. For both seniors (Clime and Kovach) this was their final race in a Clearfield uniform and their leadership will be missed next year.
Complete Race Results can be found here: http://pa.milesplit.com/meets/125411/results/225534