MERCER COUNTY —
There’s the National Football League’s sudden-death overtime period ... the National Hockey League’s OT shootout ... and then there’s the annual District 10 Cross Country Championships.
Saturday morning in Buhl Farm Park will serve as area athletes’ lone opportunity to qualify for the annual PIAA Championships — no instant-replay, no challenge flag, no appeal process to a higher power.
This year, however, there will be a realignment of enrollment classifications, as a single-A class has been added.
District 10 meet director Jack McIntire said state qualifiers will be determined as follows: AAA — top team, plus next 5 individuals; AA — top 2 teams, plus next 10 individuals; A — boys, top 3 teams and 15 individuals; girls; top 2 teams and next 10 individuals.
“This makes the races a little more competitive, but the biggest reason I voted that way (at a steering committee meeting) is the safety issue — it was so crowded,” McIntire explained. “This year the single-A race has twenty-three teams, boys and girls. And even with combining double-A and triple-A together, there are only twenty-two teams.”
He noted the differential between single A boys’ and girls’ state qualifiers out of District 10 is due to “less boys’ teams in other parts of the state, which allows us to have a third team.”
The order of events will be: girls’ AAA, AA, 10 a.m.; girls’ A, 10:45; boys AAA/AA, 11:30; boys’ A, 12:15 p.m.
As always, Mercer County will be well represented, led by Grove City, Hickory and West Middlesex.
Led by individual medalist Dan Jaskowak, Grove City’s boys copped last year’s AAA crown. McDowell (AAA) and Mercyhurst Prep (AA) girls and North East boys (AA) also won 2011 titles. However, coach Bob Morris’ West Middlesex boys and girls teams, who ended 2nd and 3rd, respectively, both qualified for state, also.
Hickory swept last weekend’s Region 1-2 races, but Grove City and West Middlesex opted to rest many key competitors in anticipation of Saturday’s do-or-die format.
Whereas several county schools hosting weekly invitationals to better prepare area athletes for the massive district-wide races, Grove City’s Eagles opted to spread their wings.
Defending AAA champion Grove City will compete in AA this year, and head coach Mike Sample said, “I’ve gone ahead to make sure they’ve gotten into the biggest races (with) the most-quality teams that I could find — down to Schenley (Pittsburgh), over to Boardman ... the other day we were at Tri-State (Cooper’s Lake, near Slippery Rock), sixty-seven teams, and we went down to The Foundation (in Hershey, site of the annual PIAA Championships) and there were forty teams there.
“We could’ve gone to a lot more smaller races and taken home a lot of hardware,” Sample continued, emphasizing, “but I don’t think I’m doing them any justice as far as getting them ready to run at the state meet. Danny (Jaskowak) is looking to be a frontrunner there, and the rest of the teams has high hopes for down there.
“My philosophy is, get them in the races where they’re going to have competition, so that they’re not going to be shocked and awed by the time they get down to states,” Sample reasoned. “And I think we’ve done a pretty good job as a coaching staff.
“We’re a well-traveled team and gone up against some good competiton. Hopefully, it’ll prepare them enough — if we get down to states — to perform well. That’s the whole purpose of it.”
Last fall, Jaskowak covered Buhl Farm Park’s course in 17:33, and a trio of his teammates — Aaron Benka, Ian Brown and Ryan Whiteman —placed in the top 13, and also return.
Sample sees Hickory as one of his squad’s greatest challenges, while Hornets’ headmaster Tony Mastrian responded in kind.
“Hickory is a very well-run program by Tony,” Sample praised. “I really haven’t looked outside the county, but if you look at past results, General McLane’s probably a team that has some potential.
“But if everything goes well, I hope our main competition will be ourselves,” Sample added.
“Grove City’s just an awesome team!” Mastrian gushed. “We’re gonna give it a go, give it our best to be one of the two teams (to advance to state). But Grove City is probably the odds-on favorite for that race because of their strength. After that, General McLane ... and some other teams we’ve seen, that we’ve run against, though we’ve not seen General McLane.
“We’ll have to be at our best,” 37th-year mentor Mastrian mused. “The (Hornets) have been running aggressively all year, so hopefully we can bring that (Saturday) and put it on the line for the most important race of the season. ... Our strength is we’ve had such good bonding, running together (Hickory’s pack time has been as tight as 30 seconds)
“ ... That’s what we’re looking for, and they need to do that to achieve where they want to go,” Mastrian added.
Sample said his Eagles have lofty expectations, relating, “I hope we can go out there and prove ourselves to be one of the best teams that the district’s seen in quite some time. I think that’s the statement that we want to make.”
“There’s some quality individuals, and there’s some history with some of the teams we’ll be facing. I want (the Eagles) to put their stamp on it, too,” he concluded.
Wilmington’s Kate Robb is the area’s top returning female (9th last year). She, West Middlesex’s Chloé Tyillian, Wilmington’s Rikki Brumbaugh, and Sharpsville’s Maddie Przicina placed 20th, 22nd and 24th last year, respectively, to qualify for state. West Middlesex’s David Johnson, Hickory’s Marcus Sonoga, Mercer’s Kevin Reno, Commodore Perry’s Nathan White and Lakeview’s Devon Workman ended 8th, 10th, 18th, 20th and 22nd, respectively, and also made the cut. White won last weekend’s Region 1-2 race, outdistancing Reno.
Mercer County clubs competing include:
ä Class A — Commodore Perry, Jamestown, Kennedy Catholic, Lakeview, Mercer, Sharpsville, West Middlesex, Greenville (boys), Reynolds and Wilmington.
ä Class AA — Greenville (girls), Grove City, Hickory, Sharon, Slippery Rock, and Wilmington (boys).
There are no county contingents competing in AAA.
ä The remainder of the single-A field includes: Cambridge Springs, Cochranton, Maplewood, Rocky Grove, Saegertown, Eisenhower, North East, Seneca, Union City, Youngsville, Fairview, Iroquois, Mercyhurst Prep (boys) and Northwestern (girls).
ä The remainder of the AA field inclues: Conneaut Area, Franklin, Oil City, Titusville, Corry (girls), Fort LeBoeuf, Harbor Creek, Warren, Gen. McLane, Girard, Northwestern (boys), Mercyhurst Prep (girls), East, Meadville, Strong Vincent (boys) and Villa Maria (girls).
Jaskowak leads favored GC team
MERCER COUNTY —
Playoffs: GC, Hounds win; Reynolds, Sharpsville softball advance
The District 10 playoffs kicked off on Tuesday for 4 area baseball teams and 5 softball squads.
In Class A softball, Reynolds edged West Middlesex, 5-4, in an 8-inning thriller while Sharpsville ousted Rocky Grove, 5-0. In Class AA, Northwestern beat Wilmington, 9-5, and Harbor Creek defeated Mercer, 4-3.
Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title
HARBORCREEK — Hickory High co-head coach Mark Slezak referenced the term “exponential” in explaining the four-fold heart-felt feeling of having a relay team qualify for the PIAA Championships.
That sentiment seemed to summarize Mercer County’s performance during Saturday’s annual District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships.
5 area teams qualify for D-10 baseball playoffs
Five area baseball teams have qualified for the District 10 playoffs — Grove City, Kennedy Catholic, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wilmington.
In the Class A semifinals, Kennedy Catholic faces Cochranton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern High School. Rocky Grove faces Eisenhower in the other semifinal game.
Hickory, WM boys to collide at D-10 AA Track & Field Championships
For the 2nd time this week, a District 10 track & field team title could be decided by a pair of Mercer County contingents.
Just as Hickory and Grove City girls contested the Class AAA crown Wednesday night, so, too, are the Hickory and West Middlesex boys anticipating vying for Saturday’s AA title.
Roundup: Reynolds baseball tops GC; Sharpsville, Wilmington softball teams win
ä Reynolds 4, Grove City 1 — At Transfer, Neal Engstrom fired a complete-game 3-hitter with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in lifting the Raiders (9-8) past the Eagles (14-6).
Ryan Grace was tagged with the loss for Grove City. He struck out 6 batters, issued no walks and gave up 7 hits in going the distance.
GC girls 3-peat at District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
HARBORCREEK— Some athletes seeded 1st in four events would feel pressure. For Grove City High senior Daniel Jaskowak, it’s an opportunity for name recognition.
“I kind’ve like it. It’s cool, because people know who you are,” related Jaskowak, who won 3 events during Wednesday’s District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory, GC girls collide at D-10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Cliché though that is, it will be borne out today at the annual District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory High girls — the defending PIAA Class AA titlists — will test the best from the biggest. And the Lady Hornets hope to give as good as they get from the 6-county competition.
Local tune up for districts at Mercer County Invite
There’s a difference between a warm-up and a warning.
If Saturday’s annual track & field invitational is any indication, Mercer County’s contingent issued a warning for the remainder of District 10: This could be a big year in area annals.
Roundup: Grace, GC beat Sharon, 4-0, in 5 innings
With an impending storm blowing in above Johnny Pepe Field time was limited, so Ryan Grace greedily gobbled up putouts.
Grove City High’s Grace gave up only 3 base hits, and the visiting Eagles eased to an abbreviated 4-0, 5-inning win over Sharon Friday afternoon.
HIGH SCHOOL SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP: County track meet set Saturday at Hickory
The annual Mercer County Track & Field Invitational will be held at Hickory High’s Hornet Stadium Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Competing are all Mercer County teams, Class AAA and AA, as well as Slippery Rock. The meet serves as a warm-up to the District 10 championships set next week at Harbor Creek High.
- More Sports Headlines
- Playoffs: GC, Hounds win; Reynolds, Sharpsville softball advance