PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney boys cross country seniors Eric Surkala and Andrew Barnoff concluded their high-school careers on Saturday at the PIAA State Championships in Hershey, running under clear skies and ideal temperatures, with both athletes turning in their best-ever state-meet performance.

Surkala led the way with a time of 18:04 and a 99th-place finish out of 236 total runners, while Barnoff overcame a fall in the early going to run 18:19 and place 125th. "I thought both Eric and Andrew did a very nice job, easily the best they've done in a combined five state-meet appearances," said Punxsy boys coach George Wehrle. "This was a very nice way for them to finish out four successful years of high-school cross

country."

Surkala's previous best time on this course was 18:36 from 2019, and he had never placed higher than 146th in two previous state-meet appearances. Barnoff ran 19:05 last season, placing 92nd out of 133 runners, as the field was limited due to COVID concerns.

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