A Blue Wave swept its away around the track at Panther Valley High School.
Four Tamaqua runners crossed the finish line in unison as the Blue Raiders claimed the top six spots in a 15-50 Schuylkill League Division I victory Wednesday in the dual meet opener for both teams on the Panthers' 3.1 mile course.
In the girls meet, Amber Carroll led a strong Tamaqua unit to a 15-50 forfeit win over the Lady Panthers, who fielded just four runners.
The Tamaqua boys feature a mix of experience and some promising freshman, and with the host Panthers in a rebuilding mode, the race turned into a training run for the Raiders.
"We have some younger guys, and this was a good opportunity for them to run with our seniors," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger. "They have had a good attitude so far. With four of them finishing at the same time, that's hard to beat."
When the Raider quartet finished together at 21 minutes, 29 seconds, their order of finish was determined by the sticks they grabbed. Philip Christman ended up with the first place finish, followed by senior Joe Rudy and freshmen Zac Oliveria and Jordan Frank.
"It doesn't matter what time you come in, as long as you finish first," said Christman. "Originally, I wanted to take it easy until the bottom of the hill, but I took it a little too easy and everybody caught up to me.
"Joe asked if we all wanted to finish together, since there was no one else around us, expect for the top four, so that's what we did."
Michael Sloboda was the top finisher for the Panthers, placing seventh overall.
"I'm happy with how we ran, because most of these kids hadn't seen a race before now," said Panther Valley coach Morgan Jones. "Except for our senior, Sloboda, these kids are ninth graders."
Carroll, a two-time PIAA state medalist, cruised to the first place finish in the girls race. She was clocked at 21:05, with teammates Schuyler Schmidt, Dana Ansbach and Colleen Rorke placing second through fourth, respectively.
"I took the lead halfway up the macadam road," said Carroll, who dominated the race from that point.
"Our girls ran well. It was a nice day for our team," said Kanger, whose squad hopes to contend for Schuylkill and District 11 Class honors this season. "They ran packed together, and we wanted them to finish strong, which they did."
Sindle Griffiths, a former state qualifier, was the fastest runner for the Panthers, coming in at 23:10.
"It was mental victory for Sindle to run well. She's had some breathing problems but today she was healthy for a change," said Jones.
In the junior high race, Tamaqua's Andrew Tite was the winner at 13:34. Tyler Vance of Panther Valley was third at 14:51.
Tamaqua 15, Panther Valley 50
1. Philip Christman (T) 21:29, 2. Joe Rudy (T) 21:29, 3. Zac Oliveria (T) 21:29, 4. Jordan Frank (T) 21:29, 5. Travis Hill (T) 21:40, 6. Dave Frederick (T) 23:40, 7. Michael Sloboda (PV) 23:48, 8. Lenny Ogozalek (PV) 23:49, 9. Shane McGeehan (PV) 23:49, 10. Austin Karnish (PV) 23:49.
Tamaqua 15, Panther Valley 50
1. Amber Carroll (T) 21:05, 2. Schuyler Schmidt (T) 22:20, 3. Dana Ansbach (T) 22:47, 4. Colleen Rorke (T) 22:54, 5. Sindle Griffiths (PV) 23:10, 6. Emily Bumbulsky (T) 23:54, 7. Jessica Leiby (T) 23:55, 8. Julie Lesniak (T) 24:56, 9. Paige Kosica (T) 25:01, 10. Melody Kelly (T) 25:27.