Kiski Area's Brent Kennedy, the runner-up on the same Cooper's Lake Course a week earlier at the Tri-State Coaches Invitational, won in a three-way battle with Fox Chapel's Ethan Martin and Taylor Allderdice's Ean DiSilvio Thursday to win the WPIAL Class AAA cross-country championship.
The race went pretty much the way Kennedy expected it to go, and he took the title with a time of 15 minutes, 59 seconds thanks mostly to his strong finishing kick over the final 200 meters.
"I figured Martin and DiSilvio would be out there [with me]," said Kennedy, a junior who gradually put some distance between himself and Martin, who finished second in 16:04, and DiSilvio, who placed third in 16:13.
The trio was on its own after about two miles of the 3.1-mile race.
"There's a hill right there [at two miles], and that's where we broke away," Kennedy said. "It's similar to how things went at Tri-States. That experience [running at the Tri-State meet] helped there."
Meanwhile, the North Allegheny boys team won its eighth WPIAL title in a row.
The Tigers had no runners in the top five, but had five among the top 14 to run away with the team championship with 50 points. Fox Chapel, with two runners in the top five was second with 136 points. Mt. Lebanon and Hampton both had 175 points, but the Blue Devils earned the trip to the state meet as their sixth and seventh runners finished ahead of their Hampton counterparts.
The top three teams in each classification earned a trip to the state meet Nov. 3 in Hershey.
"The guys really ran well," said John Neff, who has coached North Allegheny to its past four WPIAL titles, "but there's a lot more fast running to do."
North Allegheny's five runners finished within 17 seconds of each other, with seventh-place Josh Zemet leading the way in 16:32.
Sophomore Brianna Schwartz of Shaler and North Hills junior Mary Malone broke away from the rest of the Class AAA girls field at about the halfway mark, and Schwartz cruised to a 24-second victory against Malone to win in 18:32.
"I'm really happy with my place but not my time," said Schwartz, who thought she might break the course record after she won the Tri-State meet in 18:10.
Mt. Lebanon won its seventh girls team title with 49 points. North Allegheny was second (97) and North Hills third (108).
"This was a great effort," said Mt. Lebanon girls coach Ron Schreiner, whose team placed four runners in the top 10. "It's hard to come up here [and win]. Everybody was talking about us, and we had the target on our back. I think we can make some people worry about us next week."
Two seniors won the individual races, and Quaker Valley had just enough to win its fourth girls team title in a row, while the boys team had a dominating performance to win its sixth consecutive team championship
South Park's Tyler Rigby won the boys AA title. He had a 15-second lead at the 11/2-mile mark, then gave back some ground. He had to double-back when he missed a turn in the final 600 meters, but had enough to hold on to a five-second victory with a time of 16:59.
Beaver Area's Marshall Bruce placed second, one second ahead of Blackhawk's Zack Black.
Uniontown's Julie Friend had an easier time in the girls race, building a 14-second cushion and winning in 19:23. Alexis O'Shea of West Allegheny finished second, and Rachel Skolnekovich's third-place finish led Quaker Valley to the team title with 65 points. Uniontown was second with 67, Knoch third with 110.
Quaker Valley's boys had five runners in the top 24 to win with 66 points. Mars was second, South Fayette third.
Vincentian Academy's Ryan Archer won individual honors in 16:34as the Royals finished second with 125 points behind Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (113). Northgate placed a third with 131 points.
Laurel won the girls team title with 100 points, with senior Emily Maxwell earning individual honors with a time of 20:14.
Shenango (117) and Vincentian Academy (132) finished second and third.