Upper St. Clair’s Shaw has super showing at RWB Classic
Superlatives and Savannah Shaw go hand in hand, so it came as no surprise that the Upper St. Clair senior used a few of them to explain her first-place finish during the Red, White and Blue Classic. In the Class AAA varsity cross country race, Shaw shaved almost a minute off her personal best time and won in 17:58.
“It’s amazing. There’s a lot of competition on this course. My time really surprised me as well. Just so excited,” Shaw added. “I came across the finish line and I was kind of surprised by it all.”
She noted that only a mile back, she was neck-and-neck with North Allegheny’s Clara Savchik, who placed second in 18:05.20. In the final mile, however, Shaw kicked into high gear.
“I felt really good running but I still had so much more speed in me. I could go so much farther. As we got closer to the second mile, I said ‘you got to pick it up a lot.’
Since she finished fifth in the 1,600-meter race at the PIAA track and field championships this spring, Shaw has bumped up her training. That’s making a difference, USC coach Doug Petrick said.
“Savahannah deserves every bit of success that comes her way. She’s earned it,” Petrick said. “Winning this invite is a major accomplishment. It’s a direct reflection of all the hard work she puts in throughout the entire year.”
During the summer, Shaw trained in many places, including Boulder, Colo., where she traveled with some of her teammates. That week alone, she ran “just” 45 miles.
“It was challenging because I really had to push through that,” she said of the altitude change. “There were hills and just in general, it increased my mental strength as well as my training for sure. I’ve been trying to not go too crazy with the mileage. Tyring to get really quality runs instead.”
The strategy is paying off. Shaw opened the cross country season winning the Marty Uher Invitational at Cal. U with a personal best time of 18:46.
At Schenley Park, where the RWB was held, there were plenty of down hills and Shaw took advantage of the terrain and the cool conditions.
“I liked the course a lot. It’s really flat. Some rolling hills,” she said. “I feel like the rolling hills help you along. You go up a little bit and then get a nice down hill.”
Hills, however, will be part of the landscape for Shaw as she contends for championships. She finished fourth in the WPIAL and 14th in the state last fall. Shaw has targeted Oct. 26 for the District 7 meet to be held at Coopers Lake and the Nov. 4 PIAA championships.
“I hope to win WPIALs, but for me I just want to improve my time and place. Get better from last year and hopefully have a really strong race at state. I’ll see how it goes. That would be pretty cool, too. I’d love being a state champion,” she concluded.
Thanks to Shaw, the USC girls improved their showing as a team in the RWB. The Panthers secured sixth place. Claire Hoffman, a freshman, was the 25th runner in the race. Lauren Hart, Sophia Shi, and Nicole Naumann were the next three runners through the chute for USC.
“The girls demonstrated their dedication and talent,” said Petrick. “The sky is the limit for this group, and everyone is amped to get into our schedule. There’s so many talented teams in our section, something we are lucky to have in the South Hills.”
The USC boys are anxious to get in a dual meet after their showing at the RWB. The Panthers finished 11th overall as a team. Tommy O’Brien, Ethan Mann, and Kasey Turner set the tone, running in the low 17’s while Alex Shaw and senior Matt Higgs followed.
Petrick said of the USC boys, “We have a nice mix of talented athletes throughout the roster that really enjoy racing and working with each other. The veterans on this team do an outstanding job of leading by example. They trust the process and as we shift into our section schedule, they can’t wait to get more racing under belts.
Petrick noted the Panthers will have their share of tests on a weekly basis. “Having the opportunity to compete in such a strong section benefits these athletes,” he said. Petrick noted that almost a third of the top-20 male finishers were from the South Hills as section rival, Mt. Lebanon won the team title, and Sam Snodgrass from South Fayette won the individual crown.