Youth and Experience Face Off
BY JOHN HARWICK
PITTSBURGH, PA--Youth challenged experience in both the men's and women's races in the second annual Pittsylvania XC Challenge on November 11 on the hilly Frick Park 8K course.
Marathoner Eric Shafer (30-34) and miler Dan Mazzocco (16-19) each won their age group with ease, and Shafer edged Mazzocco by one second for the overall title: 26:41 to 26:42.
Shafer won All-American honors twice in cross-country at Indiana University of PA ('91), and Baldwin High's Mazzocco won the Pennsylvania High School 1600m title last spring.
Shafer and Mazzocco--along with third place finisher Dave Hackworth--made it easy for the Pittsburgh Pharoah Hounds to win the men's team title with 18 points.
West Penn Track Club veteran Sharon Meeder (30-34) and Norwin High's Natalie Rothrauff (16-19) staged the same scenario in the women's race, but Rothrauff won in 34:46.
Five runners won their age group for the second straight year: Mazzocco (16-19), Betsy Schauer (20-24), Dan Holland (30-34), Meeder (30-34), and John Harwick (65-69).
Sandy Onofray repeated as the women's Masters winner. She won the 40-44 title last year in 37:02 and cut off 15 seconds to win the 45-49 title this year in 36:47.
Dennis Bierbower, Joyce Geroux, John Harwick, Carl Hubel, and Joe Silverio moved on to the USATF National Masters 5K XC Championships in Holmdel, NJ. Geroux took third in the 55-59 age group.
Depth paid off for the host West Penn Track Club as the club won six team titles: men's 16-19, 30-39, 40-49, 50 and over, and women's 30-39 and 40 and over.
Dick Firsching, Pennsylvania's schoolboy 220-yard dash champion in 1945 and former Pitt track star, started the races.
Dan Holland--long considered one of Pittsburgh's most consistent distance runners--ran 27:42 last year and 27:45 this year.
Dan Mazzocco, Oak Glen, WV High's Justin Simpson, and Fairmont, WV High's Jay Urse moved on to Foot Locker Regional XC Championships. Mazzocco ran in New York City. Simpson, silver medalist in the West Virginia AA XC race, and Urse, gold medalist in the West Virginia AA XC race, ran in Charlotte, NC.
Neither Eric Shafer (26:41) nor Natalie Rothrauff (34:46) challenged the winning times posted in 1999 by Dan Lesser of the Pharoah Hounds (26:28) or Lauren Shaffer of West Penn (32:13). Shaffer won the 1999 Pennsylvania high school XC title for West Allegheny High.
Larry Barnes, Sam Bertenthal, George Carroll, Dick Firsching, Beth Harwick, John Harwick, Mark Harwick, Mary Harwick, Mike Harwick, Mary Hutchinson, Taylor Hutchinson, John Malicky, Janet Overman, Mark Schwartz, Tom Sheridan, and Joe Silverio.