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Petschauer earns medal at states

HERSHEY - There were uncertainties and unknowns for Albin Petschauer prior to the start and during the PIAA Cross Country Championships.

Like he has throughout the season - and his career - the Marian senior erased any questions that might have been running through his mind with a performance he’ll never forget Saturday.

Petschauer closed out his high school cross country career with his first state medal, placing 25th in the Class 1A race with a time of 17:17.

“I had some doubt in my mind running, but I tried to push it out and just put confidence in,” he said afterward. “And it got me a medal.”

The margin between medaling and not was razor thin. Evan George of Central Cambria, who was 24th, and Petschauer, along with Minersville’s Kolin Long in 26th, all finished with the same time. The runners from 19th through 23rd all had a 17:16.

Michael Fritz of Northwest Area finished in 14th with a 17:10, leaving just seven seconds between 14th and 26th, the first spot out of a medal. Ridgway’s Eli Schrieber (17:12) was 15th and Nate Sinkovich (17:14) 16th, while Martin O’Rourke of Regina Luminis and Jack Novelli of Wyoming Seminary were 17th and 18th with a 17:15.

“I was just thinking, ‘I hope I made it,’” said Petschauer, who had to wait for the results to know for sure if he earned the final medal position. “It was really close.”

Petschauer worked his way through the field to put himself in a position to earn a medal.

“The first mile, everyone went out super fast, as you would figure; it’s a state race, everyone’s amped up,” said Petschauer. “I think I was close to 40th after the first mile, and I had like a 5:05, or low 5:00, which is really fast for my first mile. So that was crazy how far behind everyone I still was. And then everyone started falling back because they went out so quick, and I just tried to keep a steady pace, keep pushing, and try to pass people.

“It’s pretty hard, because it’s pretty tight (at the start), and you’re boxed in with everyone, which means you can’t really go forward and you can’t really fall back. It’s also hard to tell where you are, because there’s tons of people in front of you, but everyone’s going way too fast. You just have to keep it in your mind, this is how fast I’m running, and when you run a lot of 5Ks, you kind of get a feel for it, where you need to be.”

The senior has been a leader on a team that captured the Division 2 title in the Schuylkill League during the regular season and helped the Colts qualify for states after a runner-up finish at districts.

Petschauer was never fazed through any ups and downs, and kept his focus on team and individual goals.

“I would definitely use the word resolve,” said Marian head coach Justin Huegel. “Because the way he’s been able to run with some of the disappointments and some of the challenges this year has definitely shown the resolve that he has as an athlete and as a person.

“For him to be able to come out and beat people that either beat him a couple times this year or not, it’s really cool to see him be able to step up on the biggest stage of his life and be able to sneak in there for a medal, which is the first time we’ve had a boy medal in school history, too.”

Petschauer was second at the district meet a week ago. Long pulled away in the final 50 meters after passing Petschauer for first to take the win by seven seconds.

The senior was also second at the Schuylkill League meet the week prior, topping Long, who was third, by five seconds.

Petschauer never wavered.

“That was a little bit of a disappointment,” Petschauer said of his runner-up finish at districts. “But I kind of used that to fuel this race, and kind of say, ‘You’ve got to get this one. You didn’t get what you wanted last week, but you’ve got to make sure you get this week, because it’s your last race.’”

And there is no doubt that Petschauer is deserving of the medal he earned on Saturday.

“A state medal, it’s awesome,” he said. “I’m super happy with it.”

Petschauer also made a huge leap from his run at last year’s state meet, where he finished 84th with a time of 19:03 in his first trip to Hershey.

As a team, the Marian boys were 15th in the Class 1A standings with 399 points. Annville-Cleona won the title with 91 points.

Around the area

Petschauer was the only runner from the Times News area to medal Saturday.

Palmerton’s Connor Hibell placed 32nd in the Class 2A boys race with a time of 17:09. The sophomore was 80th in his first trip to Hershey a year ago.

Hibell has had a tremendous season, winning Colonial League and District 11 titles, and going unbeaten (6-0) during regular season meets.

The Tamaqua boys were 14th in team standings with 329 points. Hampton won the team title with 66 points.

Levi Kunkel recorded a career-best finish for the Blue Raiders, who won the Schuylkill League Division 1 title, in his third straight trip to Hershey, placing 73rd with a time of 17:45.

“I think it’s just been my best year so far,” said Kunkel, who was 128th a year ago at states. “I’ve had the best placements, better times and all of that, and I’ve just been a better runner overall, and our team got a lot better,”

Lehighton’s Elijah Pagotto was 79th in the 2A race in 17:50.

In the Class 2A girls race, Palmerton’s Emma Rex placed 148th with a time of 22:20. Rex was 175th with a time of 24:00 last year.

“I definitely wanted to try and run a lot better than I ran last year,” Rex said. “The experience helps. You’re definitely a lot less anxious once you’ve been here.”

Northwestern’s Sophia Cornell placed 151st with a time of 22:22, improving on her run from last season. Teammate Haley DuBois was 192nd (23:19).

“It’s a lot better than being by yourself,” said Cornell. “We kind of got to experience all this together, and we both worked really hard to get here, and we just wanted to enjoy it.”

Jim Thorpe’s Aubrey Bonner closed out her high school cross country career with her first trip to states, placing 179th (22:57).

“To get here, I had a really good group of people to train with,” said Bonner. “And I have a really great coach (Marie Rosahac). She’s really motivating and she’s just a really sweet person which helps a lot. But overall it’s just about sticking with your training honestly, and staying really consistent over the years, which helped, because I’ve been doing this since seventh grade. So I’ve just been trying my best to stay consistent with it, and at the end of it all this was just my main goal. All season we were just trying to make it here.”

The Tamaqua girls, who went unbeaten in Division 1 and claimed the Schuylkill League meet title, also qualified for states in Class 2A, and finished 21st in the team standings with 603 points. Danville won the title with 82 points.

“These teams are special because they’re packs, they run together, they work out together, they’re always hanging out together,” said Blue Raiders coach Tom Kanger. “And all the teams preach that same exact thing, but it’s really hard to get. And these guys accepted it. Both of them, which I think made them stronger. The guys watched the girls do that, and the girls watched the guys do that. And then for both of them to be successful at the same time, it’s pretty awesome.”


... Moravian Academy sophomore Virginia Kraus defended her Class 1A title, winning with a time of 18:50.



Results of Times News area runners

Class 2A Girls

148. Emma Rex (Palmerton) 22:20, 151. Sophia Cornell (Northwestern) 22:22, 179. Aubrey Bonner (Jim Thorpe) 22:57, 192. Haley DuBois (Northwestern) 23:19, 210. Samantha Plasha (Tamaqua) 23:43, 215. Isabella Jones (Tamaqua) 23:50, 222. Mollie Walker (Tamaqua) 24:00, 225. Bailey Pliska (Tamaqua) 24:14, 226. Madelyn Schaefer (Tamaqua) 24:16, 228. Cali Frantz (Tamaqua) 24:18, 234. Lila Stegemerten (Tamaqua) 24:45.

Class 1A Boys

25. Albin Petschauer (Marian) 17:17, 122. Alex Porambo (Marian) 18:49, 147. Carlos Otero (Weatherly) 19:04, 179. Wade Eroh (Marian) 19:25, 216. Achilles Fitzpatrick (Marian) 20:30, 229. Chase Grier (Marian) 21:11, 234. James Gelatko (Marian) 21:21, 270. Lachlan Segedy (Marian) 24:26.

Class 2A Boys

32. Connor Hibell (Palmerton) 17:09, 73. Levi Kunkel (Tamaqua) 17:45, 79. Elijah Pagotto (Lehighton) 17:50, 121. Owen Serfass (Lehighton) 18:17, 139. Anthony Marchetti (Tamaqua) 18:30, 151. Jesse Gormley (Tamaqua) 18:40, 170. Adam Schock (Tamaqua) 18:49, 174. Jathan Krall (Tamaqua) 18:53, 210. Brody Boyce (Tamaqua) 19:31, 216. Stephen Kieffer (Tamaqua) 19:40.

Marian's Albin Petschauer (888) leans against teammate Alex Porambo while stretching before the PIAA state boys Class 1A race. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
Palmerton's Connor Hibell stretches before running the Class 2A race at the PIAA state cross country championships. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
Lehighton's Elijah Pagotto (1330) and Owen Serfass prepare for the Class 2A state race at Hershey on Saturday. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS