North Xtra: Freeport girls cross country continues to rule over Section 4-AA
Share with others:
The Freeport Area girls cross country team is on a three-year win streak in Section 4-AA.
That means they've got 24 consecutive section wins, and they've won their second consecutive section title. The Yellowjackets knock out their goals.
"Winning the section [title] is our first goal," said Freeport Area coach Bob Livrone. "The next thing is taking it to the state meet by winning the WPIAL. The girls really consider it pretty important."
It started this season with Freeport's Sept. 18 section opener at Southmoreland with rival Shady Side Academy. The Indians had beaten Freeport in the 2010 section opener, and the Yellowjackets were section runners-up that year.
For this year's section opener, the Freeport girls had wanted to beat Shady Side so badly that Livrone felt they were apprehensive at the previous weekend's Slippery Rock Invitational, where they placed a solid fifth.
"I think the girls were kind of more focused on the Shady Side Academy/Southmoreland meet; maybe they held out a little [at Slippery Rock]," said Livrone. "They said they didn't, but who knows what was going on subconsciously?"
Freeport veterans Kayla Zboran and Becca Dudek decided to lead the charge as Freeport took on Shady Side and Southmoreland. Rachel Kubeldis, Hayley Davis, Nicole Miller and Laura Will followed. Freeport ran determined to keep the Indians out of the top places, and the Yellowjackets won, 16-44. They also defeated Southmoreland, 18-45.
"We were in pretty good shape after that," said Livrone. "That meet kind of set the tone for the rest of the section meets."
The Yellowjackets goals actually spiraled after the win against Shady Side.
"We were under 20 points -- that was their goal after they beat Shady Sided Academy by such a huge margin," said Livrone.
Freeport met its goal to stay with fewer 20 points versus section opponents. The closest the Yellowjackets came to a lapse was in a 19-41 victory against Riverview on Oct. 9.
"They were pretty proud of that," said Livrone.
Now, in the week of WPIAL championships, the Freeport team has a goal to get in front of all of the opponents they can. So, how is it that the Yellowjackets plan to gain their 2012 PIAA berth?
"Some coaches do the pack thing," said Livrone. "I just tell them to go as hard as they can, and just do the best you can to try to stay with the person in front of you."
Livrone added that Zboran usually goes out in front and Dudek joins her: "They kind of form the front two."
"We have three groups of two that usually stay together," explained Livrone.
Freeport's middle two girls are Davis and Kubeldis, who also plays soccer for Freeport. The No. 5 and No.6 girls for Freeport are Miller and Will.
"I tell them to go out hard, cruise the middle mile, and go hard in the last mile," said Livrone.
He noted, however, that this strategy does not work on every course. The Cooper's Lake Campground course -- where the WPIAL championships will be conducted today -- begins with a towering hill that drains the quads alongside starting-line butterflies. To go out too hard at Cooper's Lake could cause a runner to fade in the middle or final miles.
What could help Freeport achieve its state-berth goals at the WPIAL meet is the fact that the team sticks together.
"They're really close -- they're very good friends," said Livrone. "They push each other. If someone misses practice, it's like, 'Where were you?' ... I really don't have to say that much to this group."
The Freeport girls competed in last week's Freedom Invitational as a tune-up for WPIAL meet; the Freedom meet draws many of the teams that will include Freeport's Class AA WPIAL competition. The Yellowjackets won the 10-team event.
"We took care of business up at Freedom," said Livrone. "I really like our chances next week for being in the top three. There's no clear-cut team leader this year -- anything can happen."