Four Repeat Champions Highlight WPIAL Boys’ Cross Country Championships

Friday, October 28, 2022

Brownsville, Pa. – The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) held its Boys’ Cross Country Championships in the 1A, 2A, and 3A classifications on Thursday at Roadman Park on the campus of PennWest California. There were a pair of repeat individual champions in 1A and 2A, and repeat team champions in 2A and 3A.

In 3A, North Allegheny captured its fifth straight team championship and 33rd overall, while Butler junior Drew Griffith earned the Golden Tornado their third consecutive individual crown by improving upon his 2021 runner-up finish.

At the 2A classification, Hampton won its second consecutive and overall team championship, and Ringgold junior Ryan Pajak defended his 2021 crown.

In 1A, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart captured its second team title and first since 2012, while Eden Christian Academy senior Sean Aiken became the third different repeat champion in the classification and claimed the school’s third individual title, with Carter Smith in 2013 being the first.

Qualifying for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Boys’ Cross Country Championships are the top two teams and top 10 non-team individuals in 3A, and the top four teams and top 20 non-team individuals in both 1A and 2A. The PIAA Boys’ Cross Country Championships will be held on Saturday, November 5 at the Hershey Parkview Course.

3A RECAP [Results]
North Allegheny continued its reign of 3A, winning its fifth consecutive team title in dominant fashion with a score of 31 that topped runner-up South Fayette by 114 points. The Tigers had all seven runners inside the top 17, led by sophomore Jack Bertram’s second-place effort at 15:53.1. Senior Gregory Kossuth (4th, 16:26.2), senior Jackson Pajak (5th, 16:30.2), junior James Behrend (8th, 16:38.8), and senior Nicholas Betler (12th, 16:57.8) rounded out the scoring for North Allegheny, with junior Michael Gautner (13th, 17:01.8) and senior Joey Rempe (17th, 17:07.2) also finishing inside the top 20.

Butler junior Drew Griffith traded his 2021 silver medal for a 2022 gold, finishing the course with a blistering time of 15:17.2 – 35.9 seconds faster than Bertram in second place. Bronze went to Peters Township sophomore Brett Kroboth, who clocked in with a mark of 16:11.8.

South Fayette was led by junior Alaa-Eddine Guetari, who placed ninth with a time of 16:41.6. Senior Roman Galioto (11th, 16:56.1) and junior Tim Danziger (25th, 17:44.2) also finished inside the top 25.

In addition to the student-athletes from North Allegheny and South Fayette, qualifying for the PIAA Championships are: Kefimba Cisse (Gateway), Eli Dewitt (Seneca Valley), Drew Griffith (Butler), Rowan Gwin (Fox Chapel), Brett Kroboth (Peters Township), Jacob Puhalla (Moon), Evan Sarkett (Upper St. Clair), Max Smith (Seneca Valley), Ethan Vaughan (Fox Chapel), and Sawyer Weinmann (Upper St. Clair).

2A RECAP [Results]
Hampton successfully defended its first WPIAL boys’ cross country team title, winning a second 2A trophy with a score of 94 – 40 points better than runner-up Blackhawk. The Talbots had two runners in the top 10 in junior Dale Hall (5th, 16:27.3) and sophomore Christopher Belch (9th, 16:59.3), as well as two additional finishers inside the top 25 in juniors Jacob Bonnar (13th, 17:18.6) and Layne Haught (21st, 17:33.3). Sophomore Nathan Gardner (46th, 18:19.6) was the final scorer for Hampton.

Ringgold junior Ryan Pajak became the 21st different student-athlete to win multiple WPIAL boys’ cross country individual titles, crossing the finish line in 15:43.9 to best Blackhawk senior Ethan Papa by 35.1 seconds.

Runner-up Blackhawk was paced by Papa, who saw all five scorers inside the top 40. Junior Chase Bowen (27th, 17:45.3), senior Aidan Thellman (32nd, 17:52.1), senior Travis Westover (36th, 17:58.4), and junior David Yowler (37th, 17:59.2) rounded out the scoring for the Cougars.

Uniontown had senior Mason Stewart lead its efforts, as he clocked in at 16:25.3 to claim the bronze. Seniors Tanner Uphold (22nd, 17:37.3) and Leyton Maust (25th, 17:42.7) finished inside the top 25.

Montour claimed the final PIAA team spot with a pair of runners inside the top 20. Junior Julian Kletz (16:40.4) finished seventh, while senior Peter Chacon (17:29.5) crossed the line in 20th.

In addition to the student-athletes from Hampton, Blackhawk, Uniontown, and Montour, qualifying for the PIAA Championships area: Tyler Bell (Quaker Valley), Jonathan Berzonsky (Indiana), Lucas Bradley (New Castle), Michael Braun (Freeport), Patrick Burgos (Elizabeth Forward), Thomas Fine (Elizabeth Forward), Dominic Flitcraft (Hopewell), Joe Harmanos (North Catholic), Luke Henderson (Belle Vernon), Clark LaLomia (Quaker Valley), August Lawrence (Greater Latrobe), Ryan Pajak (Ringgold), Sameul Plazio (Kiski Area), Santo Riccardi (Chartiers Valley), Paul Roberts (Kiski Area), Owen Schessler (North Catholic), Matt Schwertfeger (Laurel Highlands), Aaron Tressler (Greensburg Salem), Rigel Weakland (North Catholic), and Seth Weaver (Indiana).

1A RECAP [Results]
By a narrow margin of three points over Winchester Thurston, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart captured its second 1A team title with a score of 68. The Chargers had four runners inside the top 18 in senior Maxwell Hamilton (3rd, 16:52.0), sophomore Ryan Groff (7th, 17:30.9), senior Peter Sweeney (12th, 17:51.1), and junior Will Stickman (18th, 18:07.9), with freshman Brayden Douglass (34th, 18:48.4) rounding out the scoring.

Eden Christian Academy senior Sean Aiken repeated as 1A individual champion with a time of 16:39.3, besting Mohawk sophomore Jackson Schoedel’s mark of 16:50.7 by 11.4 seconds, and became the 22nd student-athlete to win at least two WPIAL boys’ cross country individual championships. The Warriors saw three runners finish inside the top 40 in Aiken, junior Ethan Haring (6th, 17:17.5), and senior Noah Reaoch (37th, 18:54.8).

Winchester Thurston’s runner-up finish was led by sophomore Eli DeSimone’s fifth-place effort, as he clocked in with a time of 17:11.5. Sophomore Charlie Routledge (10th, 17:48.4), senior Sam Kuzmishin (14th, 17:58.8), sophomore Peter Heintzleman (17th, 18:07.5), and senior Koehler Berman (32nd, 18:39.0) completed the scoring for the Bears.

Third-place Riverview was paced by senior Amberson Bauer in fourth with a time of 17:11.2. He was joined in the top 20 by sophomores Christopher Barnes (9th, 17:40.9) and Holden Deasy (20th, 18:09.0).

In addition to the student-athletes from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Winchester Thurston, Riverview, and Eden Christian Academy, qualifying for the PIAA Championships are: RJ Ashcroft (South Side), Brendan Burns (Neshannock), James Couch (Freedom Area), Bradley Custer (Ellwood City), Elihu Dale (McGuffey), Braden Donovan (Serra Catholic), Brady Ellis (Seton LaSalle), Levi Haas (Burrell), Brady Hagerman (McGuffey), Bryce Hinkle (Bishop Canevin), Connor Jeffcoat (Shenango), Ramaniah Karamcheti (Washington), Gabe Kavulic (Apollo-Ridge), Keenan Kerr (Lincoln Park), Aidan Mack (Laurel), Scott McConnell (Mohawk), Alex Platt (Burrell), Wesley Riddle (Sewickley Academy), Jackson Schoedel (Mohawk), and Michael Vaughn (Bishop Canevin).

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