Victor Costello had just finished another routine day in the life of a high school cross country runner.
After running four miles at a relatively easy pace on the day before he thought he was next scheduled to race, Costello was done. At least he thought he was until North Pocono coach Marc Gaughan’s phone rang on Sept. 23.
A scheduling mix-up left teams from four other schools at Penn State Scranton, Scranton Prep’s home course, waiting for the Trojans to arrive. A potential rescheduling that Gaughan thought was happening never occurred and the message had not gotten to him.
“As luck would have it, there was a bus available at the school,” Gaughan said. “We throw the kids on the bus, walk the course and run the race.”
All Costello did was go out and set a course record, running against two of the top three teams in the 23-team Lackawanna League.
“I just tried not to think about it,” Costello said of the extra pre-race work. “I didn’t know what would happen or how I would feel until I got into the race.
“About midway through, I knew I was going to be OK.”
Course records became routine for Costello, a junior, during the 2008 season. He tied the mark at his home course and set records five times.
Heading into the state meet Saturday in Hershey, Costello represents one of the league’s top chances for a medal.
Costello would have added to his collection of records during the District 2 Class 3A boys’ championship at Scranton Municipal Golf Course last week if he had not been chasing Crestwood’s Bobby Micikas.
Instead, Micikas set the record and Costello settled for second place with a time of 16:17 over the 3.1-mile course.
Costello, Sam Kuchwara of Scranton Prep and Greg Slack of West Scranton will represent the Lackawanna League in the Class 3A boys race Saturday at Hersheypark. The Class 3A boys run in the last of four races, beginning at noon.
“I want to run around the very low 16s,” said Costello, who ran a season-best 16:13 in the Endless Mountains Invitational at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds in Meshoppen. “My goal is to get to 15:59. I want to be able to medal.”
The top 20 individuals in each race receive state medals.
Wallenpaupack’s Rachel Schmalzle, another district runner-up, is the only Lackawanna League runner in the state Class 3A girls race, which is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The Scranton Prep girls, who won the District 2 Class 2A title, are the only team from within Lackawanna County to qualify for the state meet. They will run in the first race of the morning at 9.
The northern edges of the Lackawanna League produced the other two teams that will run in the state meet. The Blue Ridge girls and Elk Lake boys each qualified by finishing second in the District 2 Class 2A events.
Seniors Kathleen Druther and Carrie Frattali led Scranton Prep to the district title by finishing second and third behind Blue Ridge sophomore Allison Hall.
The Scranton Prep and Blue Ridge girls will be joined at the Class 2A state meet by Lackawanna League individuals Maria Trowbridge of Elk Lake, Chandler Karoscik of Valley View, Samantha Cudo of Montrose, Maria Eboli of Dunmore and Abby Kerns of Holy Cross.
Valley View finished a distant third in the district meet but qualified three individuals – Jordan Siddons, Aaron Wilkinson and Jake Kanavy -- for the state Class 2A boys race. Also representing the league in the race will be Matt Skrobiszewski of Mid Valley, Brent Lane of Riverside, Shane Holcomb of Holy Cross and Brian Connors of Dunmore.
The Class 2A boys run at 11 a.m.