West Xtra: Team title exciting for OLSH
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The Our Lady of the Sacred Heart boys cross country team enjoyed its first year as a WPIAL Class A team, winning their inaugural district title.
Meanwhile, the Moon girls cross country team enjoyed a classification change to Class AA. The Tigers missed state qualification by one place.
In the cases of both OLSH and Moon, the coaches agreed that the new classification changes have been positive for their teams as well as for local high school cross country in general.
"I figured that the boys would be going [to the PIAA state meet] as a team," recalled OLSH coach Bob Berg. "They all kind of knew that we knew where we were in terms of who would be challenging us. We never really came out and said it, though."
Berg said he told Nick Kocent and Matt Haupt, two of his top runners, to get between Vincentian's Archer twins -- Ryan and Alex. As a result, Ryan Archer won the race, but OLSH broke up the Royals enough to win as a team.
"I think Matt wanted to run faster," said Berg. "I think he wanted to beat Nick. But he did what we wanted him to do. All of the boys did their jobs extremely well."
In light of the classification changes, Berg explained that he hadn't really dissected the day's results for all classes. He did note, however, that in comparing times, the OLSH boys could have beaten the South Fayette team, which earned a third-place state berth in the Class AA race.
The Moon girls team, in its first year since moving down from Class AAA to AA, came in fourth in the team competition. They scored 121 points, 11 behind third place Knoch at 110.
Assistant coach Larry Covelli did not attribute any of his team's difficulties to its class.
"We picked the worst day to run our worst race," he said. "Overall, I think that having the three classes is great for the kids. It makes everything more fair for the smaller schools. More kids get a chance to compete for some postseason awards."
One important consideration for Moon is the fact that the Tigers' improved by 10 spots in placement this year, from 14th in Class AAA in 2011. The team had a nearly identical varsity squad, also.
As much hope as teams gained for state qualification this year, it became a bit tougher for individuals. In 2012, only 15 individual qualifiers are being allowed in addition to three team berths.
In past years, individual qualifiers have been able to finish in the top 20 places (outside of team berths). Despite, the slim cutoff for individual qualification, the Moon girls' team will still send senior Madison Marince and sophomore Isabelle Marsh to the PIAA championships this Saturday at the Parkview Course in Hershey.
Competition will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the Class A girls race followed in 45-minute intervals by AA and AAA girls, then A, AA and AAA boys.
"They both had a great race and ran hard," said Covelli.
Marsh came in ninth overall with a time of 20:47 on the Cooper's Lake Campground Course near Slippery Rock. Marince ran for a time of 20:26 and fifth place.
Covelli also noted that Moon's third runner, Elisabeth DeNardo, ran for a time of 22:03 and missed state qualification by six seconds in the Class AA race.