Chucks boys' XC claims tight 1st place at IUP Invite

INDIANA — Quality cross country teams are about overall team depth and not having one or two good runners. It took a total team effort but the Punxsy boys' cross country squad was able to pull out the closest of top places for the team crown at the IUP Crimson Hawk High School Invitational last Saturday in Indiana.

The top four teams could not have seen the results be any closer. The four teams of Punxsy, Indiana, Blairsville and Ligonier Valley were all within two points of each other. All four teams looked strong through their first three team finishers and even as far as the four finishers but the deciding spot went all the way back two more places.

The tiebreaker turned out to be sixth place finishers between Indiana and Punxsy which both had 89 team points to determine first place.

Punxsy's Zach Moore, who was 34th, bested Indiana's Sean Coleman, who placed 42nd to secure the win and bring home the team trophy. Blairsville and Ligonier Valley posted team scores of 90 and 91 for third and fourth.

"The guys were happy with the outcome as it took a real team effort to pull it out," noted Chucks' coach John Smith.

Individually, junior Bo Dinger continued his strong season. Dinger raced to second place in 17:54, behind only Indiana's Ryan Louther.

Punxsy had a duo of runners turning in strong performances in 15th and 16th in Eric Ingros (19:08) and Nate Ward (19:13).

The fourth Chuck completing the course was Jerad Meterko in 20:09 for 26th place while Luke Fugate was just four spots back in 30th (20:29) as both had fine runs to help secure the team tie.

"Zach Moore kept focused in his race which made the difference," explained the Punxsy coach.

Moore finished 34th in 20:42, nine key spots ahead of Indiana's sixth runner.

Three other Chucks put together solid runs, as Joe Whitman ran 22:09 (51st), Will Boddorf 24:26 (84th) and Nate Hankinson 24:48 (88th).

Punxsy will travel to DuBois today for a tri-meet against Bradford and host DuBois.

"They both have strong teams, and this will be a real challenge on their rough and hilly course," said Smith.