Burrell junior qualifies for states in only second race
SLIPPERY ROCK: Burrell junior Kylee Witchey has run in only two cross country races.
Witchey’s second race was good enough to earn her a third.
Witchey took 18th place with a time of 21 minutes and 46 seconds at the WPIAL Class AA girls cross country championships at Slippery Rock University on Thursday.
Witchey placed high enough to qualify for the state championships at the Hershey Park Complex on Nov. 2.
All runners on the top four teams and 20 more runners with the best times make the state meet.
Burrell doesn’t have a team but was allowed to enter one competitor.
Witchey, who ran at the hilly, 3.1-mile Slippery Rock course in September, didn’t top her first time of 21:37.
But Witchey still was ecstatic about the results.
A relatively unknown high school cross country runner, Witchey was the only Alle-Kiski Valley girl to crack the top 20 in the Class AA or AAA girls races.
“This was my second cross country race, but I do road race pretty frequently,” Witchey said.
“I definitely wanted to make it to states,” she said. “That was my goal.”
PLUM GIRLS TAKE EIGHTH
The Plum girls tied for eighth place with North Hills at the WPIAL Class AAA girls cross country championships.
Plum topped its 11th-place finish last season.
The first five Plum finishers were underclassmen.
“That bodes well for the future of this team,” Plum coach Joe Ionta said.
Sophomore Rachel Twigg took 23rd place with a time of 20:33. Twigg the highest local finisher in the girls Class AAA race.
“At the end of last year, she didn’t run as well as she did at the beginning of the year,” Ionta said.
“I think she learned from that,” Ionta said. “She’s run well the whole year. And she got her best time on this course.”
Junior Val Vandzura (58th), junior Leanne Stitt (66th), freshman Brooke Taylor (72nd) and sophomore Jess Youra (79th) rounded out the top five for Plum.
Taylor trained with the cross country team in the summer and didn’t miss a meet, but she spent most of her practice time this fall with the school’s junior varsity soccer team.
Youra is a first-year runner.
KISKI AREA FRESHMAN DOES FINE
Kiski Area freshman Meaghan Conroy placed 41st with a time of 20:58 in the Class AAA girls race and led her team to a 12th place finish.
Seniors Emily Lion (50th) and Tasha Wheatley (64th) backed the newcomer with two high finishes.
“They’re very good for the whole team,” Kiski Area coach Missy Schaeffer said. “They’re good leaders.”
FREEPORT RUNNERS PLACE IN TOP 50
Because Freeport is a club team, the Yellowjackets were permitted to have just one runner in both the Class AA boys and girls races.
But Freeport made the most out of a few.
In the girls race, senior Raven Bier placed 43rd with a time of 22:57.
In the boys race, sophomore Shane Sarver took 45th place with a time of 19:01.
Bier was representing a girls squad that went 7-6, with three losses to Class-AAA Highlands.
The boys didn’t have a record because Sarver was one of only two male runners this year.
Sarver was the highest local finisher in the AA boys race.
Riverview junior Dan Inzinga was 58th (19:29).