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Oakland Catholic girls sweep in Class 3A cross country

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/27/2017 By Keith Barnes Tri-State Sports & News Service
Hannah Schupansky approaches the finish line for the WPIAL Class 3A girls cross country championships Thursday at Cooper’s Lake in Slippery Rock, Pa. © Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette photos Hannah Schupansky approaches the finish line for the WPIAL Class 3A girls cross country championships Thursday at Cooper’s Lake in Slippery Rock, Pa.

Oakland Catholic didn’t give off a championship aura in any of its big meets this season.

It finished second to Fox Chapel at the season-opening Red, White and Blue Classic in September and, just 12 days ago, came in fourth at the Slippery Rock University Mack Cooper Invite.

“We weren’t sure what we could accomplish because we haven’t run all together as a team that well,” Oakland Catholic junior Hannah Schupansky said. “But I think we put it all together and it just fell into place.”

Did it ever.

Led by Schupansky, Oakland Catholic repeated as WPIAL Class 3A girls team cross country champions as the Eagles finished with an impressive 43 points. Their total, four more than what they won with a year ago, was the second-lowest team score in the highest classification in more than 20 years. They topped Fox Chapel by 13.

It also helped having Schupansky, who didn’t run in the Mack Cooper, in the lineup. A fifth-place finisher at the meet a year ago, she won with a personal-best time of 17:58, 12 seconds better than second-place Savannah Shaw of Upper St. Clair.

Oakland Catholic was the only school in the three classifications to win the individual and team titles.

“It feels amazing ...  I honestly thought I was going to break down into tears when I crossed the line I was so happy,” Schupansky said. “This just feels amazing.”

When Quaker Valley sophomore Annie Wicker crossed the finish line in the WPIAL Class 2A championships, she stopped and turned around to look behind her at the home stretch.

“I was looking for my teammates to see if they were having a good race,” Wicker said. “I don’t think we did exactly what we wanted to do, but we’ll just use the next week to taper a little bit and focus on our goals for states.”

Though Quaker Valley didn’t achieve its goal of winning a fourth consecutive team title, Wicker did her part. She became the second Quakers runner in a row to win the individual crown and the fifth in the past 20 years as she posted a time of 19:15 to defeat second-place Gionna Quarzo of Brownsville by 26 seconds.

“There was somebody in front of me in the back loop in the part they made a little longer this year, so I decided to take the lead and see if I could hold it,” Wicker said. “I looked behind me once or twice and I kind of turned around at the corner where I thought I could keep my balance and I try not to do it, but I just couldn’t help it.”

While Wicker didn’t have anyone near her when she came across the line, her team did not fare as well as South Fayette won the first title in school history despite only having one runner, eighth-place finisher Maria DeCello, in the top 10. The Lions finished with 116 points and beat second-place Brownsville by 13 and the Quakers by 16.

Haley Hamilton had a feeling it would come down to her and New Brighton junior Alyssa Campbell for the Class 1A individual title, so the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sophomore came up with a solid strategy. She stayed on Campbell’s hip for most of the race then made her move.

Hamilton’s strategy worked to perfection as she became the first runner from OLSH to win the WPIAL Class 1A title. The Chargers runner crossed the finish line in 19:03, a whopping 23 seconds in front of her rival Campbell.

Though Hamilton won the overall, it wasn’t enough to end Vincentian’s stranglehold on the team title. The Royals’ best finisher was freshman Tara Lucot, who came in fourth with a time of 19:49, but their 78-point team total was nine points better than second-place Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and 92 in front of the Chargers to win the school’s third consecutive championship.


A year ago after a second-place finish, Tristan Forsythe was greeted at the finish of the WPIAL Class 1A championships at Cooper’s Lake Campground by teammate and titlist Ben Littman.

This year, it was Forsythe’s turn to greet his teammates as they crossed the line. He just had to wait a while until they got there.

Forsythe, a Georgetown recruit, rolled over the competition and finished the race in 16:21 to beat Riverview senior Ben Barnes by 19 seconds to win his first individual title.

“I was hoping to get out hard and put a good gap on everybody in the field,” Forsythe said. “I went through the first mile in 5:05 which was slower than I expected ... but I just turned on the gas ... and I didn’t look back until there was about 600 meters to go.”

Neither did Winchester Thurston as a team as the Bears rolled to their second consecutive WPIAL Class 1A title. Their final score of 37 might not have been as impressive as the 20 they scored a year ago, but they were still good enough to outdistance second-place Riverview by 68 spots.

Noah Beveridge has a pretty good idea what was going through Forsythe’s mind during the race. A year ago the Butler senior came in second behind Franklin Regional’s Mark Provenzo, but has looked at that defeat as a blessing in disguise.

This time, the Syracuse recruit executed his game plan to perfection as Beveridge crossed the line in 15:47 to win his first WPIAL Class 3A title by 0:08 over Sam Owori of Seneca Valley and Daniel McGoey of North Allegheny.

Even with the win, Beveridge wasn’t able to vault Butler to its first WPIAL Class 3A team title since 2008. Instead it was Owori’s Seneca Valley squad, which repeated with 87 points and held off the Golden Tornadoes by 7 and North Allegheny by 18.

While Winchester Thurston and Seneca Valley were able to repeat, Greensburg Salem wasn’t as fortunate. The 2016 Class 2A champions fell to third as Indiana came away with 82 points and just snuck past second-place New Castle (88). The Golden Lions had 100. It was the first WPIAL Class 2A boys cross country title for Indiana.

Despite their finishes, none of the top three teams in the classification could muster an overall winner, though, as the Little Indians’ Kendall Branan came in second with a time of 16:47 and Greensburg Salem junior Mark Brown was third at 16:48.

Instead, the individual winner came from fifth-place South Fayette as senior Sam Snodgrass, who improved on a fifth-place finish from a year ago to finish first with a time of 16:33.


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