Lady Raiders clinch x-country division title
Weatherly's Andrew Vack (right) works his way uphill on Tamaqua's cross country course. PATRICK DEUTSCH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Tamaqua has the luxury of two former Schuylkill League girls cross country champions on its roster with junior Amber Carroll and senior Schuyler Schmidt.
However, it is the Lady Raiders' depth that could put them over the top as they approach the league and District 11 championships later this month.
The Raiders placed eight runners in the top 12 to sweep their double dual meet with Blue Mountain (22-35) and Weatherly (15-50) Wednesday afternoon on their home 3.1 mile course on Stadium Hill.
In the boys meet, the Eagles picked up the sweep while the Blue Raiders earned a split with a win over Weatherly.
The Lady Tams remained unbeaten at 9-0, with the triumph over Blue Mountain clinching their first Schuylkill Division I title since 2004.
It is the 10th D-1 crown in 17 years for the Raider girls, who captured six straight from 1994-99 and added wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
Carroll, a two-time PIAA state medalist, crossed the finish line in first place in 21 minutes, eight seconds, winning by 1:10 over second place Alexa Yoder of Blue Mountain. Schmidt was third at 22:39.
Also hitting the top 10 for the Raiders were Colleen Rorke (fourth), Cecily Kohlmeir (sixth), Jess Leiby (eighth) and Emily Bumbulsky (10th).
Tamaqua has been winning despite some bumps and bruises. Carroll mentioned she ran with a sore hip, and Schmidt, who didn't run cross country last season due to stress fractures in her shins (although she did play soccer), related she has battled asthma.
The Raiders' depth has taken the pressure off its frontrunning duo.
"It's more fun, and easier when you have a team like this," said Carroll. "This (winning the division) is what we've been working for all season. Now we want to try for leagues and districts."
Schmidt said the Raiders benefited from their own preseason camp at Tuscarora State Park over the summer. Team members camped in the cabins overnight and bonded, even running between Tuscarora and Locust Lake State Parks.
"It brought the team closer together," said Schmidt. "There's not one person who has all the weight on her shoulders. As long as the team wins, it doesn't matter where you come in."
"Today, we weren't 100 percent, to be honest," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger. "We're training for districts (at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course on Oct. 28). "We're hurting, but working through it.
"Our top seven is never the same. Amber and Schuyler are always right up there, but with the rest of them, I never know who's going to be there. All of the kids are working hard. Winning the league would be nice, but we're training for the 28th."
Suzanne Reigle finished 17th for Weatherly (0-8), which lost to Blue Mountain 15-45.
Blue Mountain's Kyle O'Brien was the winner of the boys race in 19:34 as the Eagles topped Tamaqua 17-41 and Weatherly 18-44.
Wreckers' senior Andrew Vack placed third in 19:59. "My job was just to run with them (O'Brien and the Eagles' Dakota Ramus, who was second), keep a good pace and see if I could pull it out in the end," said Vack.
Seniors Joe Rudy and Philip Christman finished sixth and seventh, respectively for Tamaqua (4-5), which scored its second 22-33 victory of the season over the Wreckers (1-8).
In the 1.6 mile junior high meet, Tamaqua's Andrew Tite placed second and Weatherly's Tim Busher was fifth. The Raiders' Claire Frank was the top female finisher in seventh.
Tamaqua 22, Blue Mountain 35
Tamaqua 15, Weatherly 50
Blue Mountain 45, Weatherly 45
1. Amber Carroll (T) 21:08, 2. Alexa Yoder (BM) 22:18, 3. Schuyler Schmidt (T) 22:39, 4. Colleen Rorke (T) 22:51, 5. Jackie Boran (BM) 22:51, 6. Cecily Kohlmeir (T) 23:06, 7. Sierra Pritiskutch (BM) 23:13, 8. Jess Leiby (T) 23:19, 9. Tanya Schrader (BM) 23:38, 10. Emily Bumbulsky (T) 23:46, 11. Dana Ansbach (T) 24:09, 12. Juli Lesniak (T) 24:37, 13. Audrey Reilly (BM) 24:43, 14. Jessie Setlock (BM) 24:51, 15. Melody Kelly (T) 25:50.
Blue Mountain 17, Tamaqua 41
Blue Mountain 18, Weatherly 44
Tamaqua 22, Weatherly 33
1. Kyle O'Brien (BM) 19:34, 2. Dakota Ramus (BM) 19:51, 3. Andrew Vack (W) 19:59, 4. Shaun Schaeffer (BM) 20:17, 5. Bryan Schaeffer (BM) 20:33, 6. Joe Rudy (T) 20:54, 7. Philip Christman (T) 21:00, 8. Wesley Gehman (BM) 21:21, 9. Zach Oliveria (T) 21:30, 10. Chad Heffner (BM) 22:03, 11. Travis Hill (T) 22:11, 12. Matthew Caccese (W) 22:18, 13. Stuart Blair (BM) 22:32, 14. Alex Sirkot (W) 22:33, 15. Eric Yutko (BM) 22:55.