For many Cross Country teams it difficult to produce even one runner for the PIAA Championships, but this past Saturday Southmoreland was represented by three runners as Kaylee Farino, Riley Beistel, and Ben Bickerton all qualified for the PIAA Championships in Hershey.
Don Gilpin, the head coach, does not overlook this astounding feat. “It’s always great to have runners qualify, but to have three is exceptional,” said Gilpin “I’m proud of all of them.”
For Farino, who finished 6th at the WPIAL meet on Oct. 23 to qualify, made the trip for the first time faced an entirely new challenge.
“I was excited and nervous,” said Farino, who finished 41st, “it’s a great accomplishment.” Farino will be joined by juniors Ben Bickerton and Riley Beistel, as they return to the Parkview cross country course in Hershey.
“It’s pretty nice… I know what to expect,” said Bickerton, who finished 5th at WPIALs and made the trip to the state meet for the second consecutive year. As for Beistel, who finished 19th at WPIALs, with her qualification she places herself in the record books for Southmoreland becoming the first female runner to qualify for states in each of her first three years. Beistel is also a member of the Southmoreland marching band and faced a very strange situation this past Saturday.
Not only was the PIAA Cross Country Championships this past Saturday, but also the PIMBA Band Championships at Penn Trafford High School. This news for Beistel was interesting to note as competed at both events.
“Run at 10:15, be in the car by 11:00, three hour drive to Penn Trafford, hopefully make the competition by 4:15,” said Beistel, prior to the Championships.
Beistel finished 159th in the meet and was able to participate in the band competition.
The state meet was no other easy competition.
“It’s a different animal,” said coach Gilpin. “You have to run very well.” Having hundreds of the state’s top runners in attendance it was an extremely competitive atmosphere.
Bickerton was able to finish 22nd with a time of 16:49, thus earning a medal. With the medal Bickerton became the first runner from Southmoreland to medal at the state meet since Chris Dugan.
For a team that was struggling to field a full roster this season, it is impressive that three members will be making the trip. “Three out of eleven, that’s pretty good,” said assistant coach Mr. Zachary Cavalier.
With finishes of 22nd , 41st, 159th and the fact that Southmoreland was represented by three runners and with the likelihood of all three runners returning next season, the future of Southmoreland Cross Country seems pretty bright.
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