RIDGWAY — The Chucks may not have taken first place at this year's PIAA District IX Cross Country Championships in Ridgway Saturday afternoon, but the performances of A.J. Meterko and Dane Baker certainly qualify as a successful trip to districts.
Meterko was strong, finishing second overall while Baker took fourth to qualify for the state championships next weekend in Hershey.
Meterko's time of 17:27 made him district runner-up, while Baker clocked in with a time of 17:56.
As a team, Punxsy finished third overall with 61 points. Bradford won the district with 39 points, followed by St. Marys with 45 for second place. DuBois finished with 82 while Clearfield rounded out the field with 117.
"Going into the district meet, we were hoping for the best, but we didn't get all that we wanted," Punxsy head coach John Smith said.
Meterko was strong from the start, leading the pack for over a mile before St. Marys' Gideon Woefel took over.
Those two were followed closely by Baker and St. Marys' Justin Huey, but the difference in the race came after the top four, as Bradford had strong pack running and took the next four places.
"We had beaten both Bradford and St. Marys in dual meets this season, but as I stated earlier in the season, we would have to stay injury free and illness free," Smith said. "We didn't accomplish that because we ran without Derek Kelly due to an injury. Several other runners also had lapses due to injuries and illness, losing valuable training days during the mid-to-late part of the season."
The next two Punxsy runners to finish were Nate Ward (15th, 19:08) and Nate Steffey (17th, 19:23), followed by Shane Johns in 23rd place with a time of 20:04.
Luke Fugate finished 25th with a time of 20:11, and Aaron Douthit took 27th with a time of 20:13 to round out Punxsy's day.
"Overall, the kids did well on the season going 3-2, and we will have a good core of experienced personnel coming back next year," Smith said.
Bradford will head to states, as the top team and top five finishers qualify for the state competition.