Lebo ladies look to repeat history

Published Oct 21, 2013 at 11:57 am (Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 11:57 am)

When the Mt. Lebanon girls’ cross country team travels to Coopers Lake Oct. 24 to compete in the WPIAL championships, the Blue Devils hope history repeats itself. Though defending Class AAA champions, the Lebo ladies look to replicate 2006.

Just as that year, the Lebo ladies sat out last week’s Tri-State Coaches’ Association meet. The invitational serves as the final tune-up race before the district finals. The race is also run at the same site as the WPIAL championships.

Because the course was a sloppy mess due to steady rain, Lebo head coach Ron Schreiner pulled his varsity out of the competition for safety reasons. It was the same strategy employed seven seasons ago when Lebo won the WPIAL title.

“We were excited to run at Coopers Lake last week because we have been running very well in practice,” explained Schreiner. But the conditions of the course were similar to 2006, he added.

“Although we were criticized by some, we won the WPIAL by a significant margin. So I guess you could say that our hopes are for a 2006 result this week.

Because they have dominated the cross country seasons, posting an undefeated section title, claiming the championship at the Red White and Blue Classic, dominating the Spike Shoe Meet and finishing second at the Foundation Meet, the Lebo ladies are expected to do well at the WPIAL championships. North Allegheny, North Hills, Seneca Valley and Laurel Highlands are expected to pose their stiffest competition.

“We have fresh legs and have run some of the best workouts ever run by our teams,” said Schreiner of Lebo’s preparation for the finals. “Because our training has been excellent, we are looking forward to a great result.”

Individually, Kelsey Potts, Audrey Gordon and Jillian Hunsberger will be chasing Brian Schwartz. The Shaler junior is the defending WPIAL champion, finishing ahead of that trio by 24 seconds last year. Potts poses a threat to Schwartz as the sophomore won the Red, White and Blue Classic and finished runner-up at the Foundation and Spike Shoe meets this fall.

Julia Staltari and Callie Gunzenhauser provide additional senior leadership for Lebo, which relies upon sophomores Sadie Saxton, Claire Dougherty and Grace Tandon for additional support in the race.

“Depth is one of our strengths and we are fortunate to have a lot of it,” Schreiner said. “These girls love to run. They are excited about the meet and they love to run at Coopers Lake.”

Even in the mud, the Lebo men love to run and last week at the Tri-State Meet, they dominated the competition at Coopers Lake. The Blue Devils finished first in Class AAA with 97 points. North Allegheny followed in second place with a 164 score.

Todd Gunzenhauser led all local runners. The sophomore finished 10th overall with a 17:01 time. Junior Ian Baun followed in 17th position with a 17:11 mark.

Five other Lebo harriers finished well under 18 minutes, including Patrick Quirk, Evan Hatton, Sam Hughes, Billy Dougherty and Matthew Stone.

Individually, Ethan and Colin Martin finished 1-3 in the race with 16:34 and 16:37 times. The Fox Chapel twins are expected to lead the Class AAA pack of male runners in the WPIAL finals.

In Class AA, South Fayette hopes to challenge Quaker Valley. The Quakers have won six straight boys’ WPIAL titles, while the girls have won four.

In Class A, Our Lady of Sacred Heart is the defending boys’ champion while Vincentian is expected to win the girls’ title. The Royals boast freshman Marianne Abdalah. She finished second to Schwartz at Central and second to Potts at the Red, White and Blue Classic.

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