Baker's fast time sets pace for XC win

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy's Dane Baker set the pace for a 18-41 win over Kane, completing the cross country course in 18:41 Tuesday afternoon at Punxsy's first home meet of the season.

Punxsy's Nathan Ward took second at the meet, finishing just nine seconds behind Baker's time.

"Dane Baker went at a torrid pace and set the pace for everybody," Punxsy head coach John Smith said. "Actually, at the two-mile mark, Nathan Ward was coming on strong, so those two finished very well."

Seth Burkett ran a 19:41 to complete a top-three sweep for Punxsy.

"Freshman Seth Burkett had his best race of the season," Smith said. "Taking one-two-three makes it pretty easy to win a duel meet. We had seven guys in the top 10."

Kane's Avery Colson finished fourth, just one second behind Burkett with a 19:42.

Punxsy's Derek Kelly (19:45) finished fifth overall, bringing in Punxsy's fourth score, and Luke Fugate (20:17) finished seventh overall to wrap up Punxsy's scoring.

"We had very good backup from Derek Kelly and Luke Fugate," Smith said. "All-in-all, I'm very pleased with the runners. Everyone seemed to run solid races, and we hope we can continue to improve."

There is one area that Smith said his team continues to work on improving: Closing the split between fastest and slowest team times.

"We were a pretty good split between our top five guys," he said. "We're still working on that, but we're looking forward to a good team effort at the Spiked Shoe Meet this weekend."

Smith also noted that he was glad to see a familiar face at the meet today in Kane's head coach Adam Smelko, who ran for Smith's cross country team in his time at PAHS.

"It was a significant meet for us, because Adam is a former graduate, so it was good to see him as a coach," Smith said.

The Lady Chucks' runners participated in the meet, but Kane did not have enough girls to score officially, so head coach George Wehrle said his girls used Tuesday's run as a tune-up for Saturday.

Punxsy travels to Slippery Rock Saturday for the Spiked Shoe, with its next head-to-head meet scheduled for Tuesday at Brookvile.