Chucks' XC depth enough to sweep Owls and Beavers

DuBOIS — In a partial preview of the District IX AA race, Punxsy again showed its boys' cross country running depth to get past Bradford and complete the Tuesday sweep over DuBois.

Punxsy (6-0) pushed across three of the first five finishers against Bradford and saw its fifth and final scoring runner end up two spots ahead of the final Owl for a 26-30 win.

Against DuBois, Punxsy recorded three of the top four spots and five of the first eight runners in a team score final that had a bit more breathing room in a 22-35 win and sweep of the day.

"We knew it was going to be a tight race between all three teams," said Chucks' coach John Smith. "Our guys were up for it."

The battle of the day was between defending district champion Aziz Yousif of Bradford and Punxsy's Bo Dinger for first place.

"Bo did a wonderful job. It was back-and-forth with Aziz just being able to outlast Bo at the end," remarked Smith.

Yousif (16:54.7) took the top spot by five seconds in the end over Dinger, who had an impressive 16:59 and one of the two fastest times for a Punxsy runner on the DuBois course.

Nate Ward captured fourth overall and third place for both dual team scores. He blazed home in 18:10, 13 seconds ahead of the Owls' Tyler Nuzzo.

"Ward ran a real strong run and was key to the team outcome," added Smith. "After that, we knew it would be a battle but we received good support from both (Seth) Burkett and (Eric) Ingros."

Sixth overall, Burkett registered fifth against Bradford and fourth versus DuBois in 18:29. The Chucks' Ingros sprinted to the end in 18:42 for seventh compared to the Owls and sixth to the Beavers, just one second behind the Owls' Brenden Skaggs.

Chucks Jared Meterko and Luke Fugate were grouped together and made the difference once again. Meterko was the fifth Punxsy finisher in 19:24 for ninth place in the Bradford match-up.

Fugate provided a slight cushion in the final scoring as he was three seconds behind Meterko in 10th (19:27) but more importantly ahead of Bradford's sixth runner by one spot and nine seconds.

"Meterko and Fugate both gave solid performances. Fugate was important to come in ahead of Bradford's fifth man," said the Punxsy coach.

Other Chucks racing on the day were led by Zack Moore's 20:24 in 17th place. Joe Whitman came across 29th (21:33), William Boddorf 33rd (23:37) and Nate Hankinson 35th (25:58).

"Overall, we were very pleased with the results," pointed out Smith. "We have a lot of work to do. It was a challenging course and we will see Bradford again at the Ridgway Invitational (Oct. 6) before the district meet (also in Ridgway)."

Punxsy will have a week off before traveling to Kane in a dual meet next Tuesday, Oct. 2, starting at 4:15 p.m.