Sunday, November 13, 2016

HELLO AGAIN

It's been a while, and my fingers have atrophied a bit, but I have had a few great weeks coaching a cross country team of which I am very proud.

Following is an article I wrote about the team, which appeared in the Republican Herald newspaper, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, last week. And, at the end, are the results from the team's journey to USCAA Nationals last Friday.


Although long distance running and racing is an individual endeavor, simply the art of placing one foot in front of the other and going as fast as you can for as long as you can, competitors on a cross country team participate in the ultimate team sport.

Scoring a cross country meet is like scoring a golf match. In both sports, the lowest score wins. A cross country team may have as its top runner, a world-record holder, but securing a place near the front of the pack is the way a cross country meet is won. Five runners are required for scoring. If team A’s runners place 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th, the slots are added up and the team score is 22. Team B’s runners finish in 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 10th, for a score of 33. Therefore, team A wins the meet.

It has always been my contention that running races reflect the ideals of a democracy. All people begin at the same starting line. And, in a cross country meet, as in a democracy, the unique contribution of all the participants will affect the final outcome. In cross country, a team’s fifth runner is as valuable as the team’s fastest runner. Successful cross country teams need to produce at least five runners that place high, thus keeping the team score low.

During the past eight years I have been fortunate enough to coach several outstanding individual runners at Penn State Schuylkill. In 2013, Pottsville’s Haylee Burnhauser won the Penn State University Athletic Conference state championship, and went on to place 7th at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national meet, earning All-American status.

This year, with a men’s and women’s team comprised primarily of local athletes, Schuylkill’s runners made history by winning the Penn State Worthington Scranton Invitational meet on both the men’s and women’s side. The victory earned the teams an invitation to participate at USCAA Nationals, held in Virginia Beach, on November 11.

The women are led by Alexis Luna, a freshman from Shenandoah Valley. Alexis placed 2nd at the PSUAC state meet, earning All-Conference status. Sophomore team captain Casey Renninger, a Schuylkill Haven Area graduate, finished 6th at States in 2015 and 5th this year, also earning All-Conference honors. Casey Gregory, a sophomore from Pottsville, placed 9th at States, attaining 2nd team All-Conference status. Sophomore, and Pottsville Area graduate, Justice Dimitro and Jodi Francis round out the team.

For the men, Freshman Hunter Firing, from Blue Mountain, led the team, and earned 2nd team All-Conference honors. Nico Granito, a sophomore and team captain, is also a Blue Mountain graduate. Brett Rushannon, from Nativity, distinguished himself as a fine freshman runner. Josh White, a freshman from Shenandoah Valley splits his time between cross country and basketball. Tristan Dickey, a high school state qualifier in the 800-meter run, from Blue Mountain, is a sophomore. Matthew Renninger, from Schuylkill Haven Area, rounds out the top six runners who will compete at Nationals.

Max Figuerudo, and Vincent May, veterans who have served our country, and Augie Torres, are also members of the team.



From the sweltering days of August until the cool of November, these young men and women have logged hundreds of training miles, on the roads, trails, and the track. For their efforts, they will have the opportunity to run against other small college runners from 42 schools from across the country at Na
Virginia Beach-Penn State Schuylkill's Men's and Women's cross country teams participated at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association's national cross country championship meet on Friday.


For the women, Schuylkill's Alexis Luna was the top finisher among Penn State University Athletic Conference runners at the meet. Schuylkill's women's team also topped all the PSUAC schools. Luna placed 55th in the 198-runner field, with a time of 26:42 on the 6K course. Casey Renninger placed 87th in 28:30. Coral Kreiser finished 104th, with a time of 29:29, followed by Casey Gregory, who placed 126th, in 32:01. Justice Demitro placed 147th, with a time of 35:51. Schuylkilll finished 16th in a 36-team field.


For the men, Hunter Firing led Schuylkill's squad by placing 103rd, with a time of 31:43 on the 8K course. Nico Granito placed 117th, in 32:55. Brett Rushannon ran a 34:36 to place 133rd. Tristan Dickey finished 143rd, in 35:55, followed by Josh White, who ran 37:57 and placed 151st. Vince May covered the course in 41:20 and finished 163rd.


Virginia Beach-Penn State Schuylkill's Men's and Women's cross country teams participated at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association's national cross country championship meet on Friday.


For the women, Schuylkill's Alexis Luna was the top finisher among Penn State University Athletic Conference runners at the meet. Schuylkill's women's team also topped all the PSUAC schools. Luna placed 55th in the 198-runner field, with a time of 26:42 on the 6K course. Casey Renninger placed 87th in 28:30. Coral Kreiser finished 104th, with a time of 29:29, followed by Casey Gregory, who placed 126th, in 32:01. Justice Demitro placed 147th, with a time of 35:51. Schuylkilll finished 16th in a 36-team field.


For the men, Hunter Firing led Schuylkill's squad by placing 103rd, with a time of 31:43 on the 8K course. Nico Granito placed 117th, in 32:55. Brett Rushannon ran a 34:36 to place 133rd. Tristan Dickey finished 143rd, in 35:55, followed by Josh White, who ran 37:57 and placed 151st. Vince May covered the course in 41:20 and finished 163rd.


Schuylkill men placed 21st in a 32 team field.