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WPIAL champs prepping for state cross country finals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11/2/2017 By Keith Barnes / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Winchester Thurston's Tristan Forsythe won the WPIAL boys Class 1A cross country championship Oct. 26, now has his sights set on a PIAA title Saturday in Hershey. © Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette Winchester Thurston's Tristan Forsythe won the WPIAL boys Class 1A cross country championship Oct. 26, now has his sights set on a PIAA title Saturday in Hershey.

There have been several meets this season where Winchester Thurston might not have scored as impressively as it could have.

It all comes down to one reason — senior Tristan Forsythe wasn’t competing.

“He’s not in every single meet because he’s thinking nationally, but he’s really a team guy and he wants to win the state for his team in Hershey, but he’s going beyond that to some of these nationals,” Winchester Thurston coach Bruce Frey said. “This is an evolving process for him. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, but he’s not been to every meet because he’s looking for bigger and better things.”

Since the beginning of the season, Forsythe has committed to run at Georgetown and has finished at or near the top in every high school race in which he has competed. Last week, he won his first WPIAL Class 1A individual title when he crossed the line at Cooper’s Lake Campground in 16:21 to help Winchester Thurston to its second consecutive team title.

That win was nice. But it’s not the one he really wants.

“We worked really hard in the summer and in September and October and some of the other teams worked harder in the summer and they peaked a couple of weeks ago,” Forsythe said. “But we’re going to come out strong and hope that translates into an individual and state championship.”

The PIAA cross country championships are Saturday in Hershey.

Forsythe finished second in the WPIAL and third at the PIAA championships in Hershey a year ago. He is the only runner in the top seven in the state returning from 2016 and his 16:33 was 18 seconds ahead of the next best returner, eighth-place runner Tim Kennel of Dock Mennonite.

Not only has he been pushing himself, but he has also helped get the most out of his teammates.

“He has a lot of time invested and has been a mentor and, in the last 90 days, he’s done as much coaching as I have,” Frey said. “He’s working with these kids day-in and day-out and, when they’re on a 7- or 8-mile run, I might be on a bike, but he’s the one who’s out there in the trenches.”

Class 3A boys

Noah Beveridge has become one of the elite runners in the state and proved it when he came in first in the WPIAL Class 3A individual finals with an impressive time of 15:47 that was the best in the event since Zach Hebda of North Hills ran a 15:29 in 2010.

Now, the Syracuse recruit has his sights set on the elusive PIAA championship that no WPIAL individual runner has captured since Ryan Gill of North Allegheny in 2010.

“I peaked for this point and I’m ready, but I just have to get freshened up and mentally prepared, but I’ll be OK,” Beveridge said. “We’ll do a little bit of speed stuff, back off a little bit, then have two more money-in-the-bank workouts. I’m going to run states and rest up for a couple of weeks for Foot Locker, because that’s what my season has been designed for.”

Class 2A girls

Quaker Valley sophomore Annie Wicker showed signs she could be an impressive runner when she finished 24th at the state finals a year ago.

Her improvement this year, though, has been extraordinary.

Wicker showed her mettle early in the season when she came in third at the Red, White and Blue Classic while running against Class 3A competition. In the WPIAL Class 2A final, she crossed the finish line in 19:15, 26 seconds ahead of second-place Gionna Quarzo of Brownsville and 1 minute, 17 seconds ahead of her pace in 2016.

With an improvement of that magnitude at the state finals — she ran a 19:58 in 2016 — she could have an opportunity to be the Quakers first PIAA champion.

“I think we’re just going to take it easy and put in a couple of workouts and make sure that we stay strong,” Wicker said. “We’re just going to stay focused on our goals for states.”


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