Elk Lake's Jones Defends District Title; Girls' Place Second
Elk Lake’s Luke Jones successfully defended his District Two, Class AA boys’ cross country championship on his home course yesterday.
The Elk Lake girls’ team finished second behind Holy Redeemer to earn a spot in the PIAA championship meet.
Jones, who won the title last year when his teammate Mike Bedell collapsed in the final straightaway, captured this year’s race in convincing fashion.
The Elk Lake junior crossed the line in 16:45, well ahead of Holy Cross’s Rico Galassi, who was second in 17:05.
Jones will be the only Elk Lake boy going to Hershey for the state meet on Nov. 5.
The team, which had hoped to earn one of the top two team spots in order to defend their state Class AA title, finished seventh in the team standings with 172 points.
Holy Redeemer repeated its double championships from a year ago, capturing the boys’ team title with 31 points, well ahead of runner-up Blue Ridge, which finished with 85.
Eddie Cumens was Elk Lake’s second runner, crossing 26th, overall, in 18:50. Other places and times included Will Bennett (36, 19:18), Jason Vermeulen (56, 19:56), Matt Horvath (60, 20:02), Mason Maye (66, 20:15) and Cooper Cole (70, 20:28).
After he crossed the line, Jones watched closely for Bennett, who had run up front with him most of the year. The more runners that crossed the finish, the more anxious he became waiting for Bennett, who had faded back in the second part of the race.
“I knew I had to get out pretty fast, because Holy Redeemer runners go out fast,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to have to catch up with them.”
In the girls’ race, Holy Redeemer won the team title with 40 points, while Elk Lake finished with 58.
Holy Redeemer’s Marissa Durako and Rachel Sowinski finished one-two in 19:06 and 19:43, respectively.
Elk Lake’s Jenny VanEtten finished third in 20:26.
Behind VanEtten, her teammates didn’t leave anything on the course as no fewer than four of the Lady Warriors needed assistance leaving the finishing chute.
That did not include Lainey Bedell, who ran extremely well to finish tenth, overall, in 21:19.
Other places and times included Kirsten Hollister (12, 21:29), Maria Trowbridge (16, 21:37), Abby Zdancewicz (20, 21:49), Emily Williams (21, 22:09) and Kellie Grosvenor (41, 23:44).
Trowbridge, who has run near the front of the pack all season with VanEtten, developed leg cramps, while Hollister, the team’s consistent third runner all season, battled a headache during the race.
Bedell did her best to limit the damage in the team battle with Holy Redeemer.
“I could see our girls were struggling so I tried to pick up every spot I could,” Bedell said. “Every time I’d pass them, I’d say ‘Good job’ or ‘Come on, stay with me.’”
VanEtten, a freshman, had no deep strategy entering the championships.
“I just wanted to do the best I could do and run my own race,” she said.
She stayed cool when she saw Durako and Sowinski pull away from her.
“I didn’t let it get to me,” she said. “I just ran.”
In the boys’ AAA race, Tunkhannock’s Jake Siegel earned a spot in the PIAA meet with a fourth-place finish in 17:02.
Tunkhannock finished third in the team standings with 73 points, trailing Dallas, the team champs with 44 points, and North Pocono with 71. Only the first-place team earns a state berth in Class AAA.
In the girls’ AAA race, Tunkhannock took 13th by tiebreaker over Delaware Valley with 318 points. Dallas, led by race winner Regan Rome, took home the team title with 66 points.