Last year and in 2003, the Dallas girls proved that a team from the Wyoming Valley Conference can win a PIAA championship in cross country.
This season, the Lake-Lehman boys team is out to do the same.
Even though the Black Knights lost out on the Wyoming Valley Cross Country League championship to Crestwood and then lost to heavily favored Scranton Prep by just seven points in the Class 2A team standings at the District 2 meet, they have high expectations heading into today’s PIAA Championships at Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey.
“Over the whole season people haven’t really looked at us as a team to compete and we just sneaked under the radar and finished second at districts,” Lehman senior Justin Amy said. “We want to surprise some people at states now and if we do well, people will start realizing Lake-Lehman is one of the better teams to watch out for.”
Since missing out on getting the program’s first district championship since 1988, one thing has been on the runners’ minds.
“Finishing second at districts was alright but we want to beat Prep now,” Amy added. “They beat us by seven points and this is our rivalry now. We wanted to win districts but some of us didn’t run that well and we know we have to pick it up and do our best now to beat Prep.”
Tamaqua from District 11 will look to defend the 2A title it won last year. Joining Amy from the Knights to try to knock off the D11 champs are Adam Staricha, Mike Ryan, Justin Mazer, Carson Baker, Adam Harry, Jason Neare and Greg Heindel.
“Realistically, I think we can finish in the top 10 as a team,” Lehman coach John Sobocinski said. “I am cautiously optimistic because if we run the way we are capable, we can do well.”
Others from the WVCCL running in the boys 2A race, which begins at 11 a.m. are Justin Darrow and Josh Salvisburg from Bishop Hafey; Alec Richardson and Adam Karwaski from Bishop Hoban; Joe Stanek, Jeff Rafach and Jim Ellis from Hanover Area; and Frank Redmond and Josh Krall from Wyoming Area.
The boys Class 3A race starts at noon. Highlighting that race from the WVCCL is Hazleton Area’s Mike Guest.
The senior won the WVCCL meet and the District 2 race. Both times he beat out Crestwood’s Bobby Micikas, who finished second. Micikas, a freshman, will be hoping to beat Guest for the first time this year. Micikas’ teammate Nick Ellefson will also make the trek to Hershey to compete as will Coughlin’s Joel Espinoza.
A couple win streaks are on the line for WVCCL representatives in the girls 2A meet. Alex Hackett, a sophomore from Wyoming Seminary has won all her cluster-meets, the league meet and the District 2 race. Hanover Area’s Alyssa Namey also won all the cluster-meets she participated in this year. She will be looking to rebound and beat Hackett today. Hackett ran in clusters with Lake-Lehman, which will be represented by Sarah Austin and Marina Orrson in today’s race.
“I know that Alyssa Namey and Alex Hackett are going to be good because I ran with Alex every cluster-meet so I know how she is and I ran with Alyssa at districts so that will be a good race,” Orrson said. “It makes me keep going and has given me a goal to try to catch them.”
Namey’s teammate Alyssa Kuhl and Dallas’ Ellen Arnaud and Katie Gilligan will also be participating in the race, which starts at 9 a.m.
The girls Class 3A race starts at 10 a.m. District 2 champ Kristen Rosser will be joined by her Hazleton teammate Brenae Edwards and Crestwood’s Molly Brown.
at Parkview Cross Country Course, Hershey
Girls Class 2A: 9 a.m.
Girls Class 3A: 10 a.m.
Boys Class 2A: 11 a.m.
Boys Class 3A: noon