Fast Times, a Tie, and West Penn Dominance
BY JOHN HARWICK
PITTSBURGH, PA--Fast times and a tie in the mens 6K highlighted the HealthAmerica XC Challenge on November 11 at Frick Park, and the host Western Pennsylvania Track Club dominated the team competition.
Mild weather, firm footing, and a near record 155 finishers?second only to the benchmark 157 of 2003ealthAmerica XC Challenge on November 11 at Frick Park, and the host Western Pennsylvania Track Club dominated the team competition.
Mild weather, firm footing, and a near record 155 finishers--second only to the benchmark 157 of 2003--led to runners breaking 20 of the 31 existing records and establishing one mark in the 8th annual meet.
Irelands Dan Caulfield--doubling as the meets honorary chair--and Pat McGuire of the Pharaoh Hounds tied for first in the 6K in a quick 19:27 that shaved 19 seconds off Pete Boyds short-lived 2005 19:46 course record.
West Penn, thanks largely to high school aces Nate Aaron and Malcolm Muhammad, won the mens Open team title. West Penn won four more mens team titles in age-groups ranging from 11-and under to 50-plus.
Melissa Cole of the Pharaoh Hounds won the 6K in 22:35--13 seconds shy of Carly Seymours 2005 22:22 course record--and led four teammates across the line as the Hounds claimed the womens Open team title with a perfect 15.
Dick Monheim won his fourth straight title. He won 60-64 titles from 2003-2005, and this year the West Penn ace established a 65-69 record with his quick 28:36. Teammate John Harwick (70-74) won his second straight.
Mike Cain of the River City Elite and West Penns Dick Monheim won their fourth straight titles. Mike won 10-11 titles in 2003-2004 and 12-13 titles in 2005-2006. Dick won 60-64 titles from 2003-2005, and in 2006 he established a 65-69 record. Teammate John Harwick (70-74) won his second straight.
Dan Caulfield, now in his first year as the cross-country coach and assistant track coach at California U. of PA, served as the meets honorary chair. Dans illustrious cross-country and track career from 1991-1995 at Adams State College saw the Ireland native win four NCAA Division II Championships and earn ten All-American citations. Dan won two European Cup Championships for Ireland (800m/1995 and 1500m/2004), took eighth in the 800m in the 2001 World Indoor Championships, and owns the Ireland national record in the 800m (1:47.21).
Finishers numbered 155 to rank as the second highest in the meets eight-year history: 99 in 1999, 78 in 2000, 97 in 2001, 90 in 2002, 157 in 2003, 96 in 2004, and 132 in 2005.
Runners ranged in age from 7-year-olds Kristina Garand of West Penn and Dave Provenzo of the Greensburg YMCA to 73-year-old John Harwick of West Penn.
Two West Penn families own a pair of records: Steve (40-44) and daughter Kristina Garand (6-7), and twins Dave and Mary Humphrey (5-and-under).
No Challenge records remain from the meets first four years (1999-2002). Twins Dave and Mary Humphrey own the oldest records with their 5-and-under marks in 2003. Three of the meets high school runners competed in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships on November 25 in New York City: Kyle Gibson of Canon-MacMillan, Andy Lucarini of Fort Cherry, and Malcolm Muhammad of Penn Hills.
Ken and Lyn Krynski did their usual excellent job of staging the clubs annual Picnic-in-the-Park.
Fort Cherry sophomore Andy Lucarini--one week after his second straight appearance in the PIAAs--led West Penn to the 12-15 Challenge team title.
Baldwin Highs four-time PIAA champion Dan Mazzocco won the 1999-2000 16-19 Challenge titles. More recently the Penn State ace won NCAA Division I All-American XC honors for the second straight year.
Mark Schwartz, long-time USATF National Official, served as the meet referee.
In 2005 Carly Seymour won the PIAAs and the Challenge. In 2006 the Central Cambria High junior took the PIAA silver and then took third in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional.
Ami Steinmetz--wearing the Healthy Hound garb--started the races. She ranks as the meets first woman starter.
Brian Wenger of Chick-fil-A distributed 150 chicken sandwiches.
West Penns 50-plus men posted a lower team score than the clubs 40-49 men (96-110).