Tiger girls come up golden
The Northwestern girls cross country team regularly qualifies for the PIAA Championships. But this year, with a change in the number of teams that qualify from District 11, things were just a little more difficult.
Just one team from the district would qualify for states this year, so the Tigers had to win the whole thing in order to advance. And they did just that last Wednesday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.
The Tigers ran in a tight pack, placing their top five runners in the top 20 to earn the program’s first district title since 2014.
“Our senior class wanted this,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Stitzel. “The last couple years we’ve been going to states, but we’re always that second team. It’s a close group and it showed today.
“Now the pressure is off. We’ll just go out to Hershey and have fun. I still want to do well out there. It will be icing on the cake. I’m hoping we can get top three or top four in the state.”
Northwestern edged Tamaqua, 59-64, to win the Class 2A team title.
Alyssa Zack led Northwestern with a sixth-place finish, followed by Molly McGorry (11th), Kailyn Jones (14th), Maddie Consuelos (15th) and Sarah Supplee (18th) to round out the Tigers’ top five. Teammates Allison Costa (22nd) and Roselyn Bernhard (31st) were not far behind.
“I knew it was going to be close,” said Stitzel. “I’ve been following Tamaqua, but the only thing was, we didn’t get to see them this season. I thought they would be at one of the invitationals we ran at, but I saw the times, and I knew it was going to be tough. They put four girls up with ours, but our pack won it for us. They did have four girls up there, and it’s a shame because they are a quality team, and they’re only taking one team to states.
“But we had to win it this year to go. Hats off to Tamaqua, they gave us a battle, but our girls were ready for the challenge, and they came through for us today. Our senior class wanted this. The last couple years we’ve been finishing second. We’ve been going to states, but we’re always that second team. I knew they wanted this, and I wanted it for them.”
Northwestern was led by senior Alyssa Zack, who finished sixth in 19:59.
“It means everything,” said Zack. “I’ve been on teams before when we have made it to states, but we’ve been a runner-up. I’ve never been on a team to place first at districts.”
The Raiders put three runners – Grace Stegemerten (seventh), Sarah Maue (eighth) and Frances Kabana (ninth) – between Zack and the Tigers’ next runner, freshman Molly McGorry, who finished 11th.
Brianna Dumond slotted into the 12th spot for Tamaqua, but Northwestern had Kailyn Jones (14th), Madeline Consuelos (15th), Sarah Supplee (18th), Allison Costa (22nd) and Roselyn Bernhard (31st) in before the Raiders’ fifth-place finisher.
“It makes me feel like I’m a part of something, and like I’m really helping out the team,” said McGorry. “We were all very nervous, but I think that’s one of the reasons we got through it so well.”
The team now heads to the state championships with a ton of confidence. It finished second at this year’s PIAA Foundation Invitational and after that was ranked third in the state on PAmilesplit.com.
“This year going to states we have a goal,” said Zack. “This year I want to place as a team at states.”
The Tiger boys team finished in fourth place as a team, but was only five points away from second-place Notre Dame (Green Pond), which finished with 163 points. The Tigers finished at 168, led by Randall Zack’s 19th-place finish.
“I thought we would be a year away,” Stitzel said of his boys team. “I have everybody back next year, plus some middle school guys coming up. That’s a real good sign for the future.”
The Tigers’ boys district team included just two juniors along with three sophomores and a pair of freshmen.
Joe Pleban finished 21st at districts, followed by Cole Chukoskie (23rd), Joe Chukoskie (48th) and Matthew Boushell to round out the scoring for the Tigers. Kane Flickinger (59th) and Nathan Vincent (75th) were also on the districts team.
Blue Mountain won the boys Class 2A team title with 104 points, while Notre Dame’s John Koons grabbed first place individually in 16:39.
In other boys races, Wayne Reilly of Tri Valley won the Class A boys race in 17:16, while Shenandoah Valley took the team title. In Class 3A boys, Easton won the title behind first-place finisher Cosmo Cardone (16:17).
The Rovers swept he four Class 3A titles as Meghan Vizian won the girls race in 19:19 and led her team to a first-place finish. Northern Lehigh’s Reagan Pender won the girls Class A race in 19:14, while Notre Dame (Green Pond) took home team honors.
District 11 Cross Country Championship Results
Team scores and legend
1. *Blue Mountain (BM) 104, 2. *Notre Dame-GP (NDGP) 163, 3. Jim Thorpe (JT) 167, 4. Northwestern (NW) 168, 5. Central Catholic (ACC) 168, 6. Bangor (B) 177, 7. Saucon Valley (SV) 179, 8. Palisades (Palis) 224, 9. Wilson (W) 226, 10. Pen Argyl 232 (PA), 11. North Schuylkill (NS) 239, 12. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 296, 13. Northern Lehigh (NL), 14. Tamaqua (T) 338, 15. Palmerton (Palm) 352, 16. Pine Grove (PG) 382, 17. Salisbury (Sal) 401, 18. Lehighton (L) 430.
(Top 5 plus other Northwestern finishers)
1. *John Koons (NDGP) 16.39, 2. *Jake Martinez (Palm) 16:46, 3. *Shane Artis (Sal) 17:54, 4. *Kevin Haas (BM) 17:04, 5. *Matthew Chaikowsky (SV) 17:05, 19. Randal Zack (NW) 18:12, 21. Joseph Pleban (NW) 18:23, 23. Cole Chukoskie (NW) 18:26, 48. Joe Chukoskie (NW) 19:04, 57. Matthew Boushell (NW) 19:21, 59. Kane Flickinger (NW) 19:21, 75. Nathan Vincent (NW) 19:49.
Team scores and legend
1. *Northwestern (NW) 59, 2. Tamaqua (Tam) 64, 3. North Schuylkill (NS) 111, 4. Central Catholic (CC) 115, 5. Lehighton (L) 150, 6. Blue Mountain (BM) 156, 7. Palisades (Palis) 159, 8. Wilson (W) 191, 9. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 195, 10. Saucon Valley (SV) 228, 11. Jim Thorpe (JT) 279.
(Top 5 plus other locals in top 50)
1. *Olivia Haas (BM) 18:25, 2. *Cori McCormick (NS) 18:43, 3. *Christina DiFalco (PG), 4. *Isabel DeVos (CC) 19:45, 5. *Ryley Schwalm (NS) 19:50, 6. *Alyssa Zack (NW) 19:59.1, 11. *Molly McGorry (NW) 20:13, 14. *Kailyn Jones (NW) 20:25, 15. *Madeline Consuelos (NW) 20:27, 18. *Sarah Supplee (NW) 20:38, 22. *Allison Costa (NW) 21:12, 28. Madison Cressley (L) 22:01, 30. Asia Ahner (L) 22:08, 31. Roselyn Bernhard (NW) 22:10.