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Bower, NW boys shine at DeSales

CENTER VALLEY - Sam Bower and the Northwestern boys cross country team have their eyes set on Hershey.

After back-to-back league and district titles, the team is ready to take the next step this season.

On Saturday at the DeSales Invitational, the Tigers looked like a team that could compete for gold in Chocolatetown this fall, and Bower looked like the kind of top runner who could lead them there.

The Northwestern junior and reigning Times News Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year took first place at the meet, finishing almost five seconds ahead of Freedom’s Alex Heidemann in second place.

“I knew I could win this and I delivered,” said Bower. “I think my plan was great going in. I knew I wasn’t going to go out too fast. I knew there was going to be a bunch of people with the top pack.

“I just waited until we got to the woods and I used those hills to my advantage. I’ve been doing a lot of hill work over the summer.”

Bower estimated he was around 25th place after the first mile, and made his move on the hills in the second mile. He picked off competitors, until he emerged from the woods in first place for the final half mile.

Bower led his team to a first-place finish as the Tigers finished 31 points ahead of second-place Parkland.

Northwestern’s top five runners finished in the top 26 places. Nathan Vincent (seventh), Cole Chukoskie (ninth), Gavin Nelson (24th) and Joe Chukoskie (26th) rounded out the Tigers top five.

“We’re ready to compete at states,” said Bower. “We really are. We’re looking to cruise through leagues and districts, and we’re saving up for states. We’re ready to win it.

“I think just training together all summer, we’ve gotten so much better, all of us. We’ve all improved.”

Palmerton’s Own Hibell (15th place) was the top area finisher who wasn’t part of the Northwestern team. Jim Thorpe’s Ryan Bailor (23rd) also cracked the top 25 in the boys race.

In girls competition, Northwestern’s Angelina Klein was the top finisher from the Times News area. The junior finished seventh in 21:03.3.

“I really wanted to see how I could improve from freshman year,” said Klein, who finished 21st at DeSales as a freshman in 2019. The meet was cancelled last year.

Klein said she was sitting around 10th or 11th place before she made a big move to pass a pair of Southern Lehigh runners whom she knows well.

“I was like ‘you know what? I think I can do it,’” she said. “And I just went for it and ended up getting seventh. It’s probably one of the best finishes I ever had.”

The Northwestern girls took fifth place as a team, while Jim Thorpe (ninth) and Tamaqua (10th) also finished in the top 10 out of 20 teams. Tamaqua was led by Grace Stegemerten’s 18th-place finish. Jim Thorpe was led by Katelynn Bos in 26th place.

Palmerton’s Natalie Mosier took 17th place at DeSales, while Northern Lehigh’s Katelynn Barthold finished 21st.

IN THE DUST ... Reigning PIAA Class 2A champ Olivia Haas took first place in the girls race at DeSales. The Blue Mountain senior finished in 18:10, while second-place finisher Sarah Pezzino (Pen Argyl) crossed the finish line in 19:58.8.

GOLD FOR SL ... The Southern Lehigh girls took first place in the team standings, beating Parkland 60-77. The Spartans’ top five runners all finished within the top 24 places.

TWO FOR TWO ... The Northwestern boys team has two invitational titles on its resume this season. The Tigers won the Moravian Academy Lion Invitational on Sept. 3, beating second-place Nazareth 49-77. Bower took second place by one second in that meet as Colonial League rival Thomas Smigo of Palisades finished first. Haas won the girls race at Moravian, beating second-place Pezzino by 1:07.

21st DeSales Centaur Invitational Results


Team Standings (Top 10 & local teams)

1. Northwestern (NW) 67, 2. Parkland (Park) 98, 3. Twin Valley (TV) 113, 4. Liberty (Lib) 187, 5. Southern Lehigh (SL) 212, 6. Stroudsburg (S) 272, 7. Dallas (D) 281, 8. Boyertown (B) 314, 9. Upper Perkiomen (UP) 325, 10. Palmerton (Palm) 347, 17. Tamaqua (T) 526, 18. Jim Thorpe (JT) 539, 21. Lehighton (Leh) 579, 31. Marian Catholic (MC) 925.

Individuals (Top 10 & locals in top 100)

1. Sam Bower (NW) 16:41, 2. Alex Heidemann (Freedom) 16:46, 3. Cameron Kratz (B) 17:05, 4. Anthony Engle (TV) 17:14, 5. Landon Boyle (Minersville) 17:16.2, 6. Dominick Lisicky (SL) 17:17, 7. Nathan Vincent (NW) 17:17.6, 8. Liam Davis (East Stroudsburg South) 17:28.4, 9. Cole Cukoskie (NW) 17:29.10, 10. Alexander Hume (Lehigh Valley Academy) 17:30, 15. Owen Hibell (Palm) 17:47.4, 23. Ryan Bailor (JT) 18:06.1, 24. Gavin Nelson (NW) 18:09.9, 26. Joe Chukoskie (NW) 18:12.3, 36. Ricky Ray (Weatherly) 18:28.6, 39. Jacob Parker (Weatherly) 18:34, 55. William Gruen (NW) 18:55.6, 58. Ridge Snyder (JT) 19:05.6, 69. Jordan Remmel (JT) 19:19.3, 70. Frankie Willis (Weatherly) 19:19.8, 71. Bryce Marino (Palm) 19:19.8, 72. Michael Berger (Weatherly) 19:19.9, 74. Jared Thomason (NL) 19:28.1, 77. Jordan Mann (Palm) 19:30.7, 82. Owen Serfass (Le) 83. Dylan Hartranft (Palm) 19:36.1, 89. Stephen Kieffer (T) 19:45, 92. Ethan Kozlowski (NW) 19:51, 98. Levi Kunkel (T) 19:58.8.


Team Standings (Top 10 & local teams)

1. Southern Lehigh (SL) 60, 2. Parkland (Park) 77, 3. Blue Mountain (BM) 105, 4. Dallas (D) 125, 5. Northwestern (NW) 160, 6. North Schuylkill (NS) 175, 7. Upper Perk (246, 8. Boyertown (B) 273, 9. Jim Thorpe (JT) 275, 10. Tamaqua (T) 293, 12. Northern Lehigh 354, 20. Lehighton (Leh) 479.

Individuals (Top 10 & locals in top 100)

1. Olivia Haas (BM) 18:10, 2. Sarah Pezzino (Pen Argyl) 19:58.8, 3. Madison Hedglin (D) 20:25.4, 4. Avery Errico (Wilson Area) 20:30.9, 5. Ryley Schwalm (NS) 20:47.2, 6. Jess Price (Park) 20:58.7, 7. Angelina Klein (NW) 21:03.3, 8. Maura Lenhard (SL) 21:10.4, 9. Alaina Patel (SL) 21:11, 10. Elena Wenger (Park) 21:11.8, 17. Natalie Mosier (Palm) 21:44.7, 18. Grace Stegemerten (T) 21:50.4, 21. Katelynn Barthold (NL) 21:55.5, 26. Katelynn Bos (JT) 22:04, 27. Emily Fagan (NW) 22:15.3, 34. Grace Curnow (MC) 22:42.7, 44. Aubrey Bonner (JT) 23:12.9, 45. Maci Fisher (NW) 23:14.6, 58. Sophia Cornell (NW) 23:52.9, 60. Katie Wojton (Leh) 24:02.8, 62. Molly McGorry (NW) 23:13.4, 67. Megan Rosahac (JT) 24:32.9, 73. Mia Jones (T) 24:56.2, 74. Isabella Acker (JT) 24:57.8, 76. Kellcey Pedron (NW) 24:58.8, 82. Isabella Genao (MC) 25:28.4, 83. Emma Rutkowski (NW) 25:32, 88. Samantha Plasha (T) 25:51, 90. Emma Smith (NL) 25:58.2, 92. Ashley Jones (T) 26:06.3, 94. Emily Moyer (NL) 26:13.6, 95. Gianna Sube (Leh) 26:15.6, 99. Hailey Williams (T) 26:22.8.

Northwestern's Sam Bower took first place at the annual DeSales Invitational on Saturday. MIKE HAINES/TIMES NEWS