By Corey J. Corbin

Allied News Sports Editor

SLIPPERY ROCK — The Region 2 Invitation went smoothly Saturday at Slippery Rock High School.

That is until it came time to tally the team totals for the varsity boys race. Early unofficial tallies showed Grove City had captured the team title, but when the official listings were posted Slippery Rock secured the team title with a 49-51 win over their chief rivals. Meadville was two points back at 53 points.

This came a mere four days after the Eagles and Rockets emerged from their dual meet tied at 28 with the sixth man tiebreaker handing SR the regular season crown.

“It was close again,” Slippery Rock coach Tony Consbruck said. “With the three teams so close, it shows the quality of Region 2. (Grove City) has really come on, especially the top three. I’m glad Meadville’s in AAA, because that’s one less team to deal with.

“This is the first regional title — guys or girls — for Slippery Rock since they went to the regional format. The hope is our season won’t be over next Saturday.”

Owen Bowser (fourth, 18:01), Nate King (seventh, 18:32), Dan Hartzell (ninth, 18:40), Jackson Udy (14th, 19:02) and Jacob Spurk (15th, 19:04) all placed in the top-15 for the Rockets.

“Overall, I’m very, very pleased with how the guys team has developed this year,” Consbruck said. “I thought we’d have some outstanding runners out front, but it has been a pleasant surprise to see Jacob Spurk and Jackson Udy come together to form a pack of five, which has allowed them to have the success they’ve had this year.

“We’ve raced most of the teams (who will be competing at districts) and if we run to our potential, we’ll certainly be top five. It depends on how bad (the Rockets) want it. Three of the top four teams in the state rankings are from District 10. We’re hoping one of the teams in the top three falter and if they do, we could make some noise if the guys want it. You have to remain optimistic. A trip to Hershey is priceless and we have some seniors that want to make that happen.”

Grove City placed three runners in the top-15. Freshman Jake Kildoo paced the GC contingent with a third place finish in 17:30.

“We’re telling Jake to have fun this year,” Grove City coach Mike Sample said. “Any pressure he feels he puts on himself. He’s handled it very well. He’s very mature for a freshman. He knows what he wants to do each race and it’s been a pleasure to watch him run. He sets some pretty lofty goals for himself. If he stays healthy, the sky is the limit for him.”

Tom Bollinger (fifth, 18:12) and Ryan Sestak (eighth, 18:34) were also in the top-15. Jon Stewart (16th, 19:10) and Jim Hsieh (19th, 19:21) also ran solid races.

“Jim Hsieh and Jon Stewart knew they had to step up,” Sample said. “They know they didn’t run as well as they could have Tuesday. I think Jimmy was especially feeling bad about that. He got in front of a couple runners that he wasn’t able to on Tuesday.

“I wanted them to come out of here feeling good about themselves. I wanted them to go into next weekend with positive attitudes. With districts, anything can happen. The team with the most momentum usually does well. We’re going to have to fight for a top-five position, so it’s not out of the realm.”

In the girls race, Grove City won that elusive crown, topping regular season champion Meadville 38-47. Slippery Rock was fourth with 91 points.

“I think this is the first time in the history of the program that they have won anything,” Sample said. “They’ve been running in the top five of a lot of the invitationals, but we’ve never cracked the top spot.

“For 30 some years, it’s always been about the boys. The girls either didn’t have a team or didn’t have a very competitive team. In the last couple of years, the girls have put something’s together to make themselves formidable. This is a first for this program.”

The Lady Eagles put five runners into the top-15 with Megan DeGraaf lead the way with a second place finish in 21:26. Sara Chuzie (sixth, 22:04), Becky Consbruck (seventh, 22:24), Chelsie Hensel (11th, 23:01) and Nicole Wizorek (12th, 23:09) also ran solid races.

“They’ve gotten stronger as the season has went on,” Sample said. “We’ve never plateaued. Someone has stepped up with each race and gave a performance that wasn’t expected. Today was no different. We got real nice runs from Becky Consbruck and Sara Chuzie behind a real consistent Megan DeGraaf. Chelsie Hensel probably stepped it up the most in our No. 4 spot. Nicole Wizorek, who at times couldn’t crack the varsity line-up, ran a real nice race at No. 5.

“Next weekend, anything can happen. The way they’ve been running don’t count them out. Now, we’re finally at the top of the region. Hopefully, we can carry that through to next weekend.”

Andrea Shaffer (ninth, 22:46) was the lone Slippery Rock girls runner in the top-15 with a ninth place finish. Also in the top 25 were Brittney Richter (19th, 23:34), Nicole Fuchs (20th, 23:34), Susan Timko (21st, 23:37), Calley Bridges (22nd, 23:39) and Sarah Grabner (23rd, 23:40).

“The girls have struggled this year,” Tony Consbruck said. “It has been a difficult process. I’m not sure the girls achieved their goals. We had a nice pack today. I think there were five girls within 10 seconds of each other, but they were just back a ways. If they can move up, ... ”

Due to various other school-related events, Mercer sent just sophomore Madeline Williams and freshman Blair Kosmowski. Williams (23:37) finished 16th and Kosmowski (24:28) took in 28th.

“We wanted to give them a break, so we told them to take the day off,” Mercer coach Robin Springirth said. “We had three or four taking the PSATs and Melissa (Smith) is on a college visit.

“We’re real happy with Madeline. She beat a lot of the girls that have been beating her. She’s been up and down during the dual meets. Blair looked really good half way through the race, but kind of pooped out. Still, she beat a lot of people that have beaten her.”

Notes: Grove City won the Junior High boys and girls races. ... Meadville’s Andrew Geist (16:58) and Elisha Wilson (21:09) garnered individual crowns.

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