High School Sports

Penns Valley controls Mountain League cross country again

Runners from Penns Valley, Bellefonte, Central, Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola, Clearfield and Tyrone take off from the starting line during the Mountain League cross county championships at Penns Valley on Wednesday.
Runners from Penns Valley, Bellefonte, Central, Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola, Clearfield and Tyrone take off from the starting line during the Mountain League cross county championships at Penns Valley on Wednesday. adrey@centredaily.com

One dominated the race from start to finish, the other was pushed a little.

In both cases, it was Penns Valley’s day.

With individual wins for Rebecca Bierly and Chris Colwell, the Rams took both the girls’ and boys’ titles Wednesday afternoon at the Mountain League Championships on Penns Valley’s home course.

“We’re very proud to have the (Mountain League) title again,” said the Rams’ Mark Bierly, who finished third overall in the boys’ race. “It’s an honor for Penns Valley and we did it as a team.”

Rebecca Bierly was already ahead by a minute halfway through the race and cruised to an easy win in 19 minutes, 24 seconds over 5 kilometers.

As she circled the Penns Valley baseball field a second time, heading off on the final leg of the course, her nearest competitor wasn’t even in sight, other than a runner getting passed who was still on the first lap.

“It is definitely complicated,” Bierly said. “It’s hard to go from dual meets and not having anybody, then going to invitationals where there are people and you have to go after the person instead of time. It is difficult to do.”

Runner-up Paige Mikesell, of Clearfield, was 93 seconds back by the finish line.

Clearfield’s Abby LaBorde took third, and Bellefonte’s Amber Shirey was fourth in 21:12 — 1:48 behind Bierly.

“It’s very hard,” Shirey said of Bierly. “I feel like she gets faster as she goes. That’s hard to do.”

Bierly will face a new kind of challenge when the District 6 meet takes off Oct. 29 at Forest Hills High School, when there will be runners at her heels and pushing her.

“She takes nothing for granted,” coach Lynda Federinko said. “She knows she has to work for it.”

Federinko’s team put five runners in the top nine to take the team title with 25 points, while Clearfield had 40.

Karly Smith and Catherine Bierlein were the next Lady Rams across the line in fifth and sixth, respectively, and after Philipsburg-Osceola’s Samantha Bainey took seventh in 23:07, Penns Valley’s Alexis Witherite and Abigail DuVall had the next two spots to take care of the scoring.

The Lady Rams have won two of the past three league meet titles, edged by Clearfield last season. The Bison also won the dual meet between the teams earlier in the season to take the regular-season championship.

“We are super excited,” Bierly said. “We worked hard this season. It was a bummer when we didn’t win the whole league, but for the championship it’s great and we were all jumping up and down.”

Clearfield was second with 40 points, the Lady Mounties took third with 82 and Bald Eagle Area was fifth with 140. The Lady Eagles’ top finisher was Caitlin Taylor in 10th in 23:49.

For Shirey, she accounted for all the Bellefonte girls’ results as the freshman has all season.

“I got used to it,” Shirey said. “Running with the boys gives you an advantage to some point, but it has disadvantages.”

Colwell’s win was far less decisive in terms of time. He was clocked in 16:50 — breaking the 17-minute mark on the Rams’ course for the first time — and won by 16 seconds over Joe Kohler, of Tyrone.

“I thought the first mile was a bit fast,” Colwell said. “We went out as a pack and I wanted to separate early. I made a move pretty early.”

Colwell did that at about 600 meters into the race, on the first uphill stretch, to get a little separation from the nearest Eagle. He made a similar move when the teams met in their dual meet earlier in the season.

“It’s a good place to make a move,” Colwell said. “It’s hard to match someone who starts sprinting up a hill.”

The Tyrone runners stayed close. Mark Bierly was third and Sammy Gray took fifth for the Rams, while Tyrone’s Zach Kohler was fourth.

“He’s running fast, very fast,” Mark Bierly said of his winning teammate. “Today was mostly about setting our own pace to defend our title again.”

Penns Valley racked up 34 points to take the team crown for a third straight season, with Bellefonte in second with 65 and Clearfield third at 67.

“The Tyrone kids, they were able to push the envelope there at the beginning,” Rams coach Terry Glunt said. “I’m just glad we were able to hang in there.”

Charlie Romig was the next Ram in eighth, and Haden Stamm rounded out the scoring five in 17th.

Bellefonte’s Brett Pope grabbed sixth in 18:25, while Cole Hovis and Mitchell Pensak went 9-10.

Matthew Shimmel was 12th in 18:34 to pace the Mounties to fifth with 122 points, while Austin Klinger took 21st in 19:55 for BEA, which finished seventh at 179.

Gordon Brunskill: 814-231-4608, @GordonCDT

Related stories from Centre Daily Times