Six TN runners going to States
BETHLEHEM - Tyler Stelmack ran at the Colonial League cross country championships last week with a 100-plus degree fever.
At the District 11 Championships, held Thursday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course, the Northwestern sophomore was closer to 100 percent, and he placed sixth overall in the Class AA race.
The top two teams and top 10 non-team finishers in each class earned berths at the PIAA State Championships, to be held Saturday, Nov. 6 on the Parkview course outside Hershey's Giant Center.
Joining Stelmack as State qualifiers from THE TIMES NEWS area are Northwestern's Tyler Malay (10th in Boys AA) and Emma Kemmerer (10th in Girls AAA); Northern Lehigh's Samantha Corcoran (10th in Girls AA); Palmerton's Andrea Stevko (11th in Girls AA); and Pleasant Valley's Dan Rose (11th in Boys AAA).
No teams from The TN area qualified for States. In Class AA, the Tamaqua girls finished third and the Northwestern boys were fourth.
On a sunny, 60 degree afternoon that featured a stiff wind at times, Stelmack was clocked at 17 minutes, 44 seconds on the 3.1 mile lay-out. North Schuylkill sophomore Brendan Shearn, the Schuylkill League champion, took the gold medal at 16:50.
"I shouldn't have been running at the Colonial League Meet and I got 14th," said Stelmack. "Coming back from that and running with a 103 degree fever, sixth place at Districts feels good.
"I was worried when the doctors said it would take a week to a week and a half to get better. I'm glad to be running."
Northwestern senior Malay was thrilled with his top 10 finish, crossing the finish line at 18:03.
"That was my goal," said Malay. "We knew we were running in AA this year (after competing in AAA), so that was a morale boost all the way around.
"Going into this race, I had a horrible race at leagues (placing 31st), so I was trying to redeem myself from that," added Malay.
While the Tiger boys dropped down to AA, the Lady Tigers competed in AAA in a loaded field. Two Tigers managed to finish in the top 20, however, led by Kemmerer, a junior, who was 10th at 20:29, and freshman Haley Yost, who placed 17th at 20:44. Pleasant Valley freshman Dana McAllister placed 16th, one second ahead of Yost, but the cut-off for States was 14th place.
Kemmerer ran neck and neck with Stroudsburg's Kiana Tucker, the Mountain Valley Conference champion, for most of the race before Tucker fell near the finish line. Lehigh Valley Conference champ Jess Cygan won the Girls AAA crown at 18:36, 13 seconds ahead of Pottsville freshman Paige Stoner, the Schuylkill League champ.
"My coaches told me it could come down to seconds in places to make it to States, so I was expecting it to be real close," said Kemmerer. "I didn't even realize (Tucker) fell down until I turned around and saw her on the ground."
Tucker managed to get up and scramble across the finish for 12th place and a State berth.
Pleasant Valley senior Samantha Klingel, bidding for her fourth trip to States, ended up in 33rd place.
In Girls AA, Moravian Academy junior Rebecca Askins-Gast took the title with a time of 20:22. No. Lehigh's Corcoran, a junior, surprised herself with a 10th place finish at 21:49.
"I never got top 10 before in a tournament. I am usually in the 20's," said Corcoran. "I was just really pumped all day, but I just wanted to qualify for States."
Palmerton's Stevko, a junior, was clocked at 21:51, two seconds behind Corcoran. "I just wanted to go out and push it the whole way," said Stevko. "I like this course. It's mostly flat, with a hill or two for you to get up to speed."
Tamaqua, the Schuylkill League champion, was hoping to be a factor in the Girls AA raced, but junior Amber Carroll, the Lady Raiders' top runner, ended up limping across the finish due to a hip injury that has been bothering her.
Carroll, who placed second as a freshman and sixth last year, was in the top three most of the race before being forced to slow down near the end. She ended up in 36th place.
Notre Dame Green Pond ended up with the AA title with 59 points.
"Her hip is messed up, obviously," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger. "She was third with 500 yards to go, but she was really hurting. Even if she made States, we wouldn't have run her, hurting like that."
With Carroll hampered, the Raiders' top runner was senior Schuyler Schmidt, who placed 18th, one place away from the State cut-off.
In Boys AAA, Whitehall's Matt Kacyon repeated as District champ with a winning time of 16:09. Rose, the MVC bronze medalist, was timed at 17:31 for his 11th place finish.
"That's just under two seconds faster than last week (at the MVC Meet, held on the same course)," said Rose. "I just went out hard and pushed it, holding onto my place the best I could."