G-A’s Long is runner-up in PIAA 2A boys cross country

HERSHEY — The last official high school cross country race for Greencastle-Antrim senior Weber Long was an excellent one.

It would have been even better if not for the existence of Gary Martin.

Weber Long

Long ran a fast time of 15:59.5 in the PIAA Class 2A boys championship race at Hershey on Saturday. But Martin, of Archbishop Wood, the defending champion, was even better, winning the race in 15:46.7, so Long had to settle for the runner-up medal.

“Weber followed the race plan; he just didn’t get the win,” Blue Devil coach Rich Secrest said. “He got a PR and he ran his best in the biggest race. But he just couldn’t beat (Martin), one of the most decorated runners in Pennsylvania history.”

Long’s effort helped the Blue Devils earn a fifth-place finish as a team.

In Class 3A girls, Greencastle sophomore Claire Paci produced a 7th-place finish in a time of 18:47.1.

Also in 3A girls, Chambersburg had a good day, with junior Camy Kiser placing 12th in 19:03.8 to earn a medal and the Trojan team finished in 12th place in the standings.

Saturday’s effort gives Long two third-place medals and a silver in his last three years at states. His two previous times on the same course were 16:18.0 last year and 16:15.9 in 2019.

Martin and Long led the field the entire way. At the mile mark, Martin had a 2-second lead. At 2.5K, it was 5.5 seconds; at 2 miles the lead was 2 seconds and at 4K it was 12.5 seconds. Long was unable to reel in the champion.

Secrest said, “They both had a quick first mile (4:41 to 4:43). I was hoping Weber could cut the lead where it was hilly, but he just couldn’t do it. And once they reached the flat (near the finish), I knew it’d be tough.”

Claire Paci

The Greencastle boys last placed in states as a team in 1999, when they were also fifth.

After Long, Hayden Parks (so., 19th place, 17:05.5), Dalton Noblit (jr., 49th, 17:30.7), Caden Hudson (jr., 52nd, 17:33.9) and Joel Amstutz (fr., 166th, 18:39.1) counted in the scoring and Kyle Baker (jr., 170th, 18:43.8) and Tommy Schemel (so., 209th, 19:36.6) also competed.

“The boys had a good day,” Secrest said. “In a race like this with this many runners, you have to go out faster than usual and still be able to hold your place. We did OK with that today. The top teams just had a better gap.”

A year ago, Paci took fourth in 18:37. This year, with just about everybody back, plus several quality runners who did not compete last year, it was tougher.

Secrest said, “It’s hard to build on her freshman finish with everybody back. Claire ran a very good race today. Her problem before was running in packs, but this year she faced her weakness and held her own. She earned a place today she was probably supposed to and she showed growth.”

The Trojan girls also showed their mettle in Hershey.

Camy Kiser

“Camy had her highest finish in three years, and had a really nice day,” Chambersburg coach Chris Monheim said. “She was around 27th or so at the mile mark, but she knows it’s a tough course and paced herself, so by the end she had moved up quite a bit.

“I was really pleased with the entire team. We were projected to be 16th, so it was nice to improve on that. A few weeks ago we weren’t expected to even make it out of districts, so we’ve had two good weeks and ended up 12th in the state. A lot of teams get to states and have a letdown, but we didn’t.”

Senior Olivia Rieck placed 52nd in 20:12.9, followed by sophomore Lexi Boyd (158th, 21:30.7), junior Emma Armstrong (174th, 21:49.6) and senior Allie List (180th, 21:55.5). Also, senior Emilea Alleman was 197th in 22:06.6 and junior Abigail Bricker was 201st in 22:11.1.

Monheim said, “Olivia had two great weeks after coming back from an injury, finishing well ahead of where she was projected. Her goal was top 100, so she was much better than that. The other girls all had solid days and finished about where expected. We had five girls who had never seen states before and they all had nice days.”

For the Chambersburg boys, senior Ben Colli was the only representative and he ran a time of 17:20.9 to take 74th place.

“He was 30th in the district meet (last week), but today he was the 17th District 3 runner to finish,” Trojan coach John Ambrosio said. “He had a great day and it was a great way to end his season. He’s been a coach’s dream and very dependable. We always say, ‘Ben Colli doesn’t have a bad day, either in practice or in a race.'”

The other Franklin County runner who competed in the state meet was James Buchanan junior Sydney Fleming. She ran a time of 22:24.1 to take 154th in the girls 2A race.