The cross country team competed in the PIAA District XII Championship on Thursday, October 25th at Belmont Plateau. The team turned in an outstanding performance and ended up qualifying a team to the PIAA State Championship for the 5th consecutive year even though the team did not actually win the lone qualifying spot.
This past year the PIAA changed the classification system for cross country, moving from two classifications (AA and AAA) to three (A, AA, and AAA). Due to the small number of schools in District XII of AAA enrollment the District went from 2 qualifying spots to just 1. That reduction comes despite the great success District XII AAA boys have had at the PIAA State Championship. Over the past 4 years District XII AAA boys have always had 1 team place in the top 3 (La Salle in ’08 and ’09, O’Hara in ’10 and ’11), and have always had their 2nd qualifying team place in the top 10.
On Thursday Cardinal O’Hara, the #1 ranked team in Pennsylvania and the #8 ranked team in the US, clinched the only team qualifying spot. However, the Explorers achieved the remarkable task of taking all 5 of the individual qualifying spots which will give the La Salle enough runners to score as a team at the PIAA State Championship next weekend in Hershey! (it requires 5 runners to score as a team)
The team was led by the individual District XII Champion senior Tom Coyle whose outstanding 15:59 allowed him to defend his District title. Following Tom was a brilliant race from junior Brendan Bilotta who ran a personal best by 20 seconds of 16:39 to place 8th overall. The senior captain duo of Andrew Stone and Jack Magee both broke 17:00 to run 16:51 and 16:53 to place 9th and 10th, respectively.
But the most exciting part of the entire day transpired behind them as La Salle’s 5th runner, senior Evan Quain, exited the woods for the final outside loop just a few spots out of the 5th and final State qualifying spot. Evan ran an incredibly clutch final mile to pass several runners bringing him home in a new personal best of 17:00 and clinching the 5th and final individual spot. Rounding out the day for La Salle was the personal best of senior Gus Marty, and the game race of Sophomore Sean Princivalle.
Remarkably the team accomplished all of this just a day after the Explorers #3 runner, senior captain Matt Greco, suffered a collapsed lung rendering him unable to run on Thursday. The team dedicated their performance to Matt and wish him a healthy and speedy recovery.
The 5 qualifiers will now finish their preparations for the PIAA AAA State Championship at Hershey’s Parkview Course on Saturday, November 3rd.
Full results (and an interview with Tom Coyle) can be found by following this link: