PIAA Medals Elude WVHS Runners
Wyalusing Valley’s Erika Huffman and Tyler Sutton may not have medaled during the PIAA cross country championships at Hershey’s Parkview course on Saturday, Nov. 5, but they were satisfied with their first appearance in the event.
Huffman, the District Four, Class AA champion as a junior, just missed medaling with her 27th-place finish.
Sutton, a senior, who qualified for Hershey with a gritty run at the district meet, surpassed his expectations with a 57th-place finish in the boys’ AA race.
A classic late closer, Huffman passed as many as four runners over the final 1,000 meters but couldn’t quite make up enough ground to reach 25th place, the final medal-earning spot.
Her trouble started early when she felt she went out too fast, but when she backed up, she may have yielded more ground than she could make up.
“I think I went out a little too fast trying to stay up with the bigger group,” she said. “Then I just kept dropping.”
The numbers proved it.
At the one-mile marker, Huffman was 40th in a time of 5:58, already six seconds and 15 places off 25th, which was held by Mansfield’s Violet Learn.
When she reached the two-mile marker, she had picked off three runners, but was a full 12 seconds back of Freedom’s Dee Dee Adams, who was running in the final medal-winning position.
Sitting 31st heading into the final leg, Huffman made her move, but with a combination of the tight track and the distance she had to make up, it was too much.
“I usually have a big kick,” Huffman said. “I used it at the end and used up some ground.”
If nothing else, Huffman believes coming up just short of a medal will give her incentive for next season.
“Next year, I’ll have a bigger goal for cross country,” said Huffman, who just completed her first season in the sport. “To medal.”
Sutton knows how his teammate feels.
For two consecutive years as a sophomore and junior, he saw his dream of qualifying for Hershey come up short by two and one spot, respectively, at the District Four meet.
This year, Sutton made it and, while he didn’t medal, he was glad he finally had the chance to compete.
“It was worth it,” he said shortly after crossing the line in a time of 17:39. “It was fun, exciting, thrilling.”
Sutton knew to have any chance of success he had to get out quick since passing can be difficult over much of the course.
“I knew I had to get out fast, but it’s hard with 290 guys having to make a sharp 90-degree turn and all of them thinking the same thing you are,” he said.
He made up ground on the hills, something he considers one of his strengths.
“I took the hills a little harder than most people but they got me back on the downhills,” he observed.
“I was just happy I made it here my senior year,” he added. “That was my goal coming into the season and I accomplished that.”