N'western almost perfect
Brayden Heller was the first Northwestern boy to cross the finish line. He was fifth.
Wins are satisfying for a number of reasons.
Some represent individual success, while others illustrate an achievement as a team.
On Thursday afternoon, the Northwestern Lehigh girls' cross country team secured possibly their most gratifying and significant wins during a remarkable undefeated streak.
The Lady Tigers went 7-0 in a multi-team Colonial League meet, extending their undefeated streak to 74-0 and giving coach Chris Stitzel his 306th win as coach.
"We're just blessed. Kids are coming out and working hard for us and that's all we ask," Stitzel said. "Everything has just fallen into place for us.
"We're getting talented kids to come out for the team and they're giving 100% every workout."
That talent and depth was on display once again in the girls meet, as Northwestern took five of the top eight positions, led by Haley Yost and Carly Pierce, who finished second and third, respectively.
Those strong finishes helped offset the dominant performance of Saucon Valley's Elizabeth Chikotas, who won in a time of 17:35.
For Chikotas, runaway wins have become commonplace this season, as the senior sets her sights on an unprecedented fourth straight Colonial League title.
"You just have to keep pushing," Chikotas said. "You just keep thinking about the little things when it starts getting tough.
"But I think having it be my senior year is also pushing me. I couldn't be luckier and I couldn't be happier."
But Stitzel also had high praise for his top runners.
"She's just in a league of her own right now," the coach said Chikotas. "But for as good as she is, Haley (Yost) is running just as well. Carly (Pierce) is running well; my entire top five's running well."
Palmerton's Brianna Fitzpatrick finished 58th with a time of 25:38 and was the Lady Bombers only runner in the meet.
The Northwestern boys' team is also running well, posting a 6-1 mark to push their record to 18-2 this season and give Stitzel 499 boys and girls wins.
The Tigers lone loss in the meet came to a 20-0 Bangor squad that took first, second and fourth overall in the meet.
"Finishing 1-2-3 (ahead of Northwestern) was a big deal because we knew we had it," said Bangor's Ben Tocket, who took first with a time of 16:24. "It's a great feeling. We have an amazing vibe surrounding our team and it's really just one giant family."
The setback likely puts Northwestern (18-2) out of contention for a Colonial League North Division title, the second consecutive year the Tigers will come up just short.
"Once they go 1-2-3, it's tough to beat," Stitzel said. "We need at least one or two guys to split up their top guys to have a chance. But when they go 1-2-3, you can't win.
"Compliments to them; they have three studs and they're tough to beat. When you have that kind of talent up front every meet it's tough. But they're a great team."
Northwestern once again showed its depth in the meet, placing five runners in the top-11, led by Brayden Heller in fifth place with a time of 16:55, followed by Ryan Cerrone in seventh, who finished with a time of 17:11.
Palmerton's Zach Svetik paced the Bombers, who finished the meet 2-5, with an eighth place finish in a time of 17:14.
The performances of Svetik and the rest of the squad were encouraging for Palmerton coach Jeff Minnich.
"I felt our boys ran very, very well today," Minnich said. "I though their times were significantly faster than they were about a month ago when we had an alumni run on our very same course. The improvement was significant and I'm very happy about that. I would consider it a very successful day on our part."
Northwestern Lehigh 20, No. Dame ES 39
Northwestern Lehigh 15 So. Lehigh 50
Northwestern Lehigh 15, No. Dame GP 50
Northwestern Lehigh 19, Saucon Valley 36
Bangor 25, Northwestern Lehigh 30
Northwestern Lehigh 18, Palmerton 43
Northwestern Lehigh 15, Mor. Academy 50
Saucon Valley 21, Palmerton 35
Bangor 19, Palmerton 42
Notre Dame ES 27, Palmerton 28
Palmerton 23, Southern Lehigh 32
Notre Dame GP 23, Palmerton 35
Palmerton 22, Moravian Academy 39
1. Ben Tocket (B) 16:24, 2. Charlie Sell (B) 16:27, 3. Mike Sheptuk (NDES) 16:33, 4. Shane Reider (B) 16:39, 5. Brayden Heller (NW) 16:55, 6. Nathan Fritzinger (SV), 7. Ryan Cerrone (NW), 8. Zach Svetik (P), 9. Jarett White (NW), 10. Cullen Furchner (NW), 11. Alessandro Consuelos (NW), 12. Sam Li (MA), 13. Devon Fugel (NDGP), 14. Mason Constant (NDGP), 15. Jeremy Smith (SV), 16. Shaun Seiler (P), 17. Tim Ferguson (B), 18. Matt McCoy (B), 19. Jarred Kyra (SV), 20. Evan Busher (NDGP).
Northwestern Lehigh 15, No.Dame ES50
Northwestern Lehigh 18, So. Lehigh 37
Northwestern Lehigh 15, No.Dame GP 50
Northwestern Lehigh 20, Saucon Valley 42
Northwestern Lehigh 18, Bangor 45
Northwestern Lehigh 15, Palmerton 50
Northwestern Lehigh 15, Mor.. Academy 50
1. Elizabeth Chikotas (SV) 17:35, 2. Haley Yost (NW) 18:56, 3. Carly Pierce (NW) 19:00, 4. Merideth Coltun (B) 19:44.11, 5. Megeret Hart (SL) 19:44.68, 6. Paige Stitzel (NW), 7. Rachele Cerrone (NW), 8. Rachel Miklos (NW), 9. Nicole Gibki (NDGP), 10. Christina Scartelli (NDGP), 11. Sarah Yanega (SL), 12. Alyssa Vandebunte (SL), 13. Brianna Vandenbute (SL), 14. Allyson Yanega (SL), 15. Angela Alden (NW), 16. Kailey Jackett (NDES), 17. Izabella Busher (NDGP), 18. Keely Welsh (SL), 19. Bailey Shiban (SV), 20. Delaney Jordan (NDGP).