West Xtra: Beaver High School duo has no equal; friends compete for running honors
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Josef DiPietrantonio and Asa Equels do not look anything alike -- no one ever mistakes them for brothers ... or even cousins.
Equels isn't as tall as DiPietrantonio and has light brown hair.
DiPietrantonio has red hair and freckles.
They are similar in a lot of ways, however. They are both seniors at Beaver Area High School and outstanding students. DiPietrantonio is president of the senior class; Equels is the vice president.
Both used to play soccer. Both are outstanding distance runners.
They proved that this past Saturday by finishing one-two in the Class AA race at the Slippery Rock Invitational at Cooper's Lake Campground.
DiPietrantonio was first, covering the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 58 seconds. Equels hit the finish line in 17:16.
They led the field most of the race, taking turns pushing the pace while pushing each other. It would have been interesting to watch the battle to the end, but Equels slowed down the stretch because of a shin splint.
Oh, one other thing. They are best friends.
"We usually practice together, run together. There is no way we are going that fast without pushing each other," DiPietrantonio said while Equels sat on the ground with an ice bag on his right shin.
It was obvious early on that one of the Beaver runners was going to win the race. They had a big lead on the rest of the field through the first 2 miles.
Laurel junior Ethan Wilson put a sprint on at the end to place third, just three seconds behind Equels, with Freedom's Jake Dewesse fourth in 17:21 and Riverside's Adam Snowden fifth. But they all closed the gap because Equels struggled at the end.
"We push each other all the time," DiPietrantonio said. "He was ahead a little bit, then I was ahead."
OK, but is it tougher to try and beat a friend than it is some runner from, say, Quaker Valley or Laurel?
"I do like running against him because we know how each other feels," DiPietrantonio said. "We also know we want to beat each other. There are no hard feelings at the end. It's whoever beats the other guy."
In the spring at the WPIAL Class AA track championships it was Equels who got to the finish ahead of his teammate in the 3,200-meter run. They placed third and fourth.
At the WPIAL cross country championships last year, Equels finished third with DiPpietrantonio 37th. But DiPietrantonio has come on this summer.
"We go back and forth all the time. We constantly switch places ... we're pretty much the same guy," DiPietrantonio said.
They became close friends when DiPietrantonio started attending Beaver Area High School in ninth grade after attending parochial school. But they knew each other from being soccer opponents.
There is a possibility their days as teammates won't end with graduation in June. They are both interested in some of the same colleges, although neither has made a commitment.
"If one [coach] likes both of us, there's a chance we'd do that," DiPietrantonio said. "I like some of the same schools he likes, but we are also considering some schools the other isn't interested in."
They are both interested, however, in repeating their one-two finish at least one more time this fall ... at the WPIAL championships on the same Cooper's Lake course on Oct. 27.
That won't be easy with defending WPIAL Class AA champion L.J. Westwood of Quaker Valley out there along with the Quakers Nat Fox and Vincentian's Ryan and Alex Archer.
"We just wanted to run well on the course and get a good gauge where we are at and then beat the times badly at the end of the year," DiPietrantonio said.
As for going one-two at the WPIAL championships?
"I hope so," he added. "That's what we've been training for."
They helped Beaver finish second in the team competition behind South Fayette, 106-107, at Slippery Rock. Teammate Cameron Clerici, a junior, was 16th overall. Jack McLaughlin and Zach Monit where both in the top 50.
AROUND THE COURSE -- In the boys Class AAA race, Moon Area junior Chris Culley was first in 16:49. Blackhawk freshman Noah Ross finished 12th in 17:30. ... In the girls Class AAA race, Moon junior Maddie Marince was sixth and West Allegheny freshman Alexis O'Shea was eighth. Moon was third behind Mt. Lebanon and Hempfield Area in the team competition. ... South Fayette was second to General McLane in the girls Class AA team standings. Sewickley Academy's Caitlin Bungo finished first with Freedom's Dee Dee Adams third. Bishop Canevin sophomore Caroline Defrank was 10th.
First Published September 22, 2011 12:00 am