North Xtra: Freeport runners state their goals
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Kayla Zboran qualified for the PIAA Class AA cross country championships last year as a sophomore and wants to go back to Hershey again this season ... but she doesn't want to go alone.
A junior at Freeport Area High School, Zboran is one of the top runners in the WPIAL girls Class AA ranks this season. She figures to be in the running for the WPIAL individual title at the championships today at Cooper's Lake Campground near Slippery Rock.
The races begin at 1:45 p.m. with girls Class AA. That will be followed by Class AAA girls at 2:30 p.m. The Class AA boys race is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. with Class AAA boys at 4 p.m.
While winning the WPIAL title is definitely on her mind, there is another goal she wants to run down, so to speak.
"I want to go to states and that's one of my goals," she said. "But I also want to help us go as a team. That's what we're after."
The Freeport girls were 16th in the team standings at last year's WPIAL championships with a top seven that had just one senior. The lineup is still young -- there was no senior among the Yellowjackets top seven at last week's Freedom Invitational -- but is experienced.
Freeport won the girls title at the Freedom Invitational on a muddy 3.1-mile course at Brush Creek Park outside Zelienople. The Yellowjackets finished with 71 points while Beaver was second with 86 and Bishop Canevin was next with 88.
The top four teams in each race at the WPIAL championships advance to the PIAA championships Nov. 5 in Hershey. Freeport coach Bob Livrone believes his girls have a good chance of being one of those four teams.
Quaker Valley is favored to win the Class AA team title again, but after the Quakers the other three spots are up for grabs.
"We talked about [going to the PIAA championships as a team] a little at the start of the season," Zboran said. "We didn't know what the competition would be like. We knew a lot of seniors had graduated from teams from last year.
"We were close to Shady Side [in Section 4-AA] last year, but they beat us and we finished 8-1. But we beat them the first meet this year and that really gave us a boost."
The teams Freeport, which won the section title this year with a 9-0 record, will be looking to beat include Beaver Area, Bishop Canevin, South Park, Derry Area, South Fayette, Shenango and Northgate.
"We've had a nice pack this season," Livrone said. "At the championships it always comes down to your fourth, fifth and sixth runners and they have been running well for us."
At the Freedom Invitational, Freeport's top five finishers were in the top 30 and within 3 minutes and 11 seconds of each other. Zboran finished second to Freedom's Dee Dee Adams with a time of 21:53. Because of the mud, the course was slow.
Becca Dudek was seventh at the Freedom Invitational with teammate Laura Will 21st and Hayley Davis 24th. All three are sophomores. Junior Nicole Miller and Rachel Sadecky were 30th and 50th, respectively, and Marisa Mattioli, a junior, was right behind Sadecky.
"I'm very excited," Zboran said of the team's chances of placing in the top four today. "I'm happy for everybody on the team. We've been focused this year.
"I was running and I heard someone say, 'Yeah, that's Freeport. They won the section.' I'm like, 'They realize that ... Oh my gosh.'"
She should be in the lead group along with Adams, Brittany Shay of Beaver, Sewickley Academy's Caitlin Bungo, Hannah Scipio of Derry Area, Sarah Miller and Sarah McKendry of Quaker Valley and Lizzie Manickas of Neshannock.
Zboran was seventh last year.
"At the WPIALs I'm just going to run my best and not try to figure out the competition as much," Zboran said. "I did that at the Central Catholic Invitational and ended up having a really good race."
She was first in the B Division at the Central Catholic Invitational, beating Adams, Shay and Canevin's Caroline DeFrank to the finish line. Freeport placed second in the team scoring in the B Division behind Beaver.
"Take Quaker Valley out of the mix and there are maybe half a dozen team that will be fighting for those next three spots," Livrone said. "You never know how things will go but we should be right there."
AROUND THE COURSE -- Carter Smith of Eden Christian Academy was fourth in the boys race at the Freedom Invitational. Freeport's Colin Meehan was 21st. In the girls race, Eden Christian Academy's Rachel Martin was ninth. ... North Allegheny's Logan Steiner won the boys race at the Tri-State Track Coaches Association championships last week at Cooper's Lake, He outkicked Altoona's Dylan Mountain at the finish. North Allegheny was second to Mt. Lebanon, 76-90, in the boys team standings.
Junior standout leads Yellowjackets
First Published October 27, 2011 12:00 am