BARNESVILLE - Jim Thorpe cross country coach Drew Benyo has seen a lot of great athletes pass through the ranks over the years.
"I've seen some exciting events, some exciting times that we have had, some tremendous runners, state qualifiers, state medal winners and some amazing things," he said after watching his undefeated boys team win the Schuylkill League Cross Country Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Tuscarora State Park.
Led by individual winner Johnathan Condly with a time of 16:44 and Christian Fields, who finished third in 17:13, the Olympians came in with 58 points, with Pottsville finishing second at 85.
"This group of kids from little on up, I've had them from seventh grade for the most part," he added. "The seniors now, when they were in seventh grade or in junior high whatever you want to call it, they never lost. Except for an outstanding Pottsville team the past couple of years, they probably would have never lost their entire career.
"It feels wonderful. There are lot of things going on in my stomach and head right now. It's just an amazing experience."
Condly, who ran behind Blue Mountain's Derek Mosteller through the early part of the race, just seemed to know when it was time to push the button to send him sprinting to the finish line.
"It's awesome," Condly said after receiving his award. "The whole season has been leading up to this and there will hopefully two more meets, districts and states. But all the hard work we put in this summer and throughout the season led up to this and it was worth it.
"I usually like to run in the front of the pack in the beginning of the race and then make my move with about a mile left."
Condly also talked about the entire team, that is definitely the best once ever at Jim Thorpe.
""We're looking at being the first team to make it states in the history of the school and it would be neat if we were," he said.
Tamaqua girls place third
Pottsville's Paige Stoner ran away with the girls race finishing in record time of 17:53. Stoner joined Tamaqua grads Isaac Dunkelberger and Alexa Griffiths as the only four-time champions.
ith a young girls team, Tamaqua head coach Tom Kanger was proud of their efforts as the Lady Raiders finished third in the team standings behind Blue Mountain and Pottsville.
"We actually had three girls finish in the top eleven," said Kanger. "One's a freshman and two are sophomores. They ran pretty strong today. It's a tough course. I told them to just run their best today against some real tough competition and they did. I'm really pleased."
Kanger was also happy with Dustin Sabol, who ran a 17:31 on the boys side for a fifth place finish.
"Jim Thorpe is one of the best teams in the entire district, so with our guy coming in there at fifth place overall in between their guys it says something. Dustin (Sabol) has worked real hard since the beginning of the year and it's paying off for him."
Jim Thorpe showed it has hope for the future as Nathan Fields took first place in the JV race with a time of 19:45 and Chris Valdez took third in the junior high race in 11:29.