HISTORY OF FREEPORT CROSS-COUNTRY
THE INAUGURAL SEASON-1998
Freeport started the sport of cross-country in the fall of 1998 with 4 girls. It was decided during the previous spring that since these girls played no other fall sport, they would participate in cross-country to stay in shape for the 1999 track season.
The four girls were junior Kristyn Krchnak and sophomores Beth DiSantis, Taylor Kerr, and Jessica Sarver. Kristyn was a defector from soccer. As the season began we picked up another girl, senior Shannon Hill. Five girls meant that we had a team!
The season started with Taylor as the best runner. Taylor was a recreational runner, so at the beginning of the season she was clearly in better condition than the other girls. As the season progressed into September, it was difficult to decide who was the better runner, Taylor or Jessica. This become a problem because of the WPIAL rule that only allowed one runner from independent schools to enter the WPIAL championship meet. This was coupled with the fact that in those days there was no on-line registration so the WPIAL needed to know the entrant by the end of September.
As September rolled on and Jessica’s fitness improved, it became clear to Taylor that Jessica was the better runner and she conceded that Jessica should be entered as the Freeport representative to the WPIAL championship meet.
The season progressed onward with both the coach and runners learning as they went about this new sport of cross-country. We tried to go to as many different places as possible to learn about the different courses. We became known as “Team Durango” as we traveled around in Coach Livrone’s brand new forest green Durango (by the way, Shannon fit perfectly into the third seat).
The girls and the coach learned about the sport improved steadily as the season progressed. As the WPIAL finals grew closer, it became clear that Jessica and Taylor were 2 of the better runners in the WPIAL. Unfortunately, only Jess could run in the finals.
Upon our arrival at Slippery Rock U., I was asked by a fellow coach if I thought that Jess and Taylor could make it to states. I replied that only Jess could run. The coach said that they were allowing 3 to run this year and the 1 per school will start next year! I asked and it was true. The good news was that Taylor brought her uniform and shoes. The bad news it that she had not trained in the last 2 weeks and was not prepared to run a championship race.
Jessica finished in 21:58, her best time of the year, and in 27th place. With the WPIAL taking 15 non-team individual to the state meet, she had a shot. As it turned out she missed by one place. The 26th girl was the 15th individual. Taylor, unfortunately, ran one of her worst times at 23:35.
Season two started with much anticipation and excitement as we returned 3 good runners from the previous year: Juniors Beth DiSantis, Taylor Kerr, and Jessica Sarver. Kristyn Krchnak chose not to run.
The excitement increased as we saw two firsts for the team. The first freshman runners for Freeport signed up for the team: Sherri Fawcett and Lauren Potosky. Also, we saw the first boy in the history of Freeport cross-country: junior Colin Reilly.
The season started slow as we traveled to Kittanning in early September. No one ran a good time so much work needed to be done. We had 10 days to prepare for the Slippery Rock invitational.
At SRU the team showed much improvement with Jessica running her best time ever. Colin took 2 minutes off of his time and Lauren lowered her time by an amazing 5 minutes. We knew then that this girl was a runner.
Next it was off to Knoch were Jessica ran her best time ever and set a school record that stood until 2005 at 20:21. Colin went under 20 minutes for the first time.
The season progressed well for most of the runners but Lauren, who was so promising at the beginning, was struggling with almost continuous pain in both knees. She persevered however and was able to finish the season, breaking the 24 minute mark at our future home course, Harrison Hills Park.
Jessica proved herself to be a WPIAL contender when we traveled to Shadyside Academy for the SSA Invitational. She finished 3rd in a respectable field of runners.
Next up was the WPIAL finals. Once again, only 1 boy and 1 girl could run for Freeport, since we were a non-team school. Colin, our only boy, chose not to participate. Jessica would once again be our girls representative, although Taylor was once again running well enough to qualify for states.
Jessica ran very well and made a nice showing finishing 11th and becoming Freeport’s first state qualifier.
The following Saturday found Jessica running to a middle-of-the-pack finish at the PIAA Championship Meet at Lehigh University.
The third season started with much of the same anticipation as season since our two top girl runners were returning for their third season. We added a new freshman: Cherie Buday. Beth DiSantis chose not to participate her senior year. On the boys side, Colin Reilly was returning for his senior year and we picked up our second boy, sophomore Brian Booth. Freeport Cross-Country was slowly growing; we now had seven members.
As expected, Jessica and Taylor performed well during the season. Jessica finished a strong 14th out of 165 runners at a very competitive Slippery Rock Invitational, once again showing she was a WPIAL medal contender. Taylor finished a respectable 48th with Cherie not far behind at 56th. Only 4 girls ran that day so we did not know how the we did as a team but if all of the girls would have run we would have finished 11th out of 22 teams. Freeport was starting to show the beginnings of becoming a future WPIAL power.
At the WPIAL finals, Jessica collected her second medal and earned her second trip to the State Meet by finishing 15th. Once again, due to our non-team status Taylor, Lauren, and Cherie were not allowed to participate in the WPIAL meet, even though they would have had a shot at qualifying for the State Meet.
At the state meet at Bucknell University, Jessica improved her time significantly over her WPIAL time but once again finished in the middle of the pack.
On the boys side, Colin had a strong year. He finished 40th out of 183 at the Slippery Rock Invitational, giving him the confidence to compete in the WPIAL finals and make a run becoming Freeport’s first boy state qualifier. Two weeks later, he turned in his strongest performance by finishing 13th at the Central Catholic Invitational at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh. At the WPIAL meet, he finished a respectable 51st out of 215 runners but did not qualify for the state meet.
Jessica Sarver went on to a very successful cross-country and track career at Penn State Behrend, making her our first collegiate XC athlete.
The 2001 season started with the Freeport fielding its biggest team ever with 6 girls and 2 boys. Jessica Sarver and Taylor Kerr were gone but we picked junior Raven Bier, sophomore Jodi Caro, and freshman Samantha Carnahan. On the boys side, Brian Booth returned for a second year and we picked up sophomore Austin Gehm. Later in the season, sophomore Matt Rutkoski joined the boys team, which made the boys total 3.
The girls team had high hopes with the return of two strong runners in Lauren Potosky and Cherie Buday and the addition of Raven, who had already proven to be a strong track runner. But with Jodi and Sam injured most of the season, we were not really able to field a regular team.
Raven had a strong season with the highlight being her running one of the top girls times ever-20:26 at Knoch. Things were looking good for a trip to the state meet but she fell short at the WPIAL Championship meet. Lauren had trouble getting started but she eventually beat her time from the previous year. Cherie continued to improve throughout the season, making the future look bright for FHS XC.
On the boys side, Brian had a goal of breaking 20:00 which he could not seen to accomplish the previous year. He achieved that goal at the second meet of the year and continued to improve from there with a best time of 18:09 at Knoch.
The 2002 season started what would prove to be the strongest era to date. Not only had the roster increased to ten-8 girls and 2 boys-but the team was joined by three of Freeport’s best XC runners: sophomore Shane Sarver and freshmen Kirsten Knappenberger and Melanie Lutz.
Shane, the brother of Jessica Sarver, had made an instant impact on the track in the spring previous to the season. After spending a year on the golf team, Shane decided to join the XC team. He made an instant impact both on the Freeport XC team and around the WPIAL. He finished a respectable 45 out of 233 runners at the WPIAL meet, narrowly missing a trip to the State meet and giving us a glimpse of things to come.
Brian Booth completed his third year on the FHS XC team by steadily improving his times and running very consistently at the end of the season.
The girls team had sky-is-the-limit hopes as Kirsten and Melanie joined strong returning runners Raven Bier, Lauren Potosky, and Cherie Buday. The freshmen started out slowly, getting used to their new sport. However at the first meet of the season at Knoch, the girls defeated the other three teams, Knoch, Riverview, and Laurel, starting the season with an impressive 3-0 record.
Then tragedy struck: at meet at Harrison Hills Park, Melanie slipped on a rock along River Run. She managed to catch herself and finish the race but it was obvious that she had severe pain in her knee. Fortunately our worst fear did not come true: no ligaments were torn. However, it was obvious that she would be out for sometime. Turns out the Freeport’s future XC record holder would miss the remainder of her freshman season. Meanwhile, Kirsten improved steadily through the season.
Even with Melanie out, the strong running of Raven, Lauren, Cherie, Kirsten, and Junior Jodi Caro led the Lady Jackets to a 7-6 record against mostly AAA teams.
At the WPIAL finals, Raven once again had an impressive showing, finishing 43 out of 194 runners but once again falling short of the State Meet. In the JV meet at the WPIAL finals, Cherie, Jodi, and Kirsten has nice runs with Cherie finishing 40th and Kirsten finishing 23rd out of 188 runners from both classifications. The future was looking bright, even with the impending loss of Lauren and Raven to graduation.
Sherri Fawcett completed her 4th year on the XC team. Although she worked hard ran strong, recurring back problems prevented her from performing at the level that she had hoped for.
Once again, as a new season began, hopes were high for the both boys and girls of the Freeport Cross-Country teams. While the number of girls had dropped to 6, the boys team was the biggest ever at five. The boys finally had a team!
Both the boys and the girls team had picked up runners who would prove to be among some the best in FHS XC history. The boys added sophomore Brendan Reilly who had perform well in the previous spring’s track season. The team was also joined by senior Brady Crytzer, a former football player who broke his leg and was not allowed to play football. At the all-sports pep-rally at the beginning of school year, Brady announced to the crowd how much harder XC practices were compared to football. We also picked up two freshmen, Jim Meyer and Bryan Tague.
The girls added freshman Kristen Prazenica, who would make an instant impact and join returning sophomores Melanie Lutz and Kirsten Knappenberger to form the trio that would become the strong core of the team for the next 3 years. Junior Lori DeLibero also joined the team.
The girls team once again had strong dual meet season, finishing 8-6 against mostly AAA teams. They showed a sign of things to come, though, at the invitationals by finishing 13th at the Slippery Rock Invitational and 2nd at the Central Catholic invitational.
The boys team, on the other hand, did not fair so well, finishing with at 3-11 record, 36th at Slippery Rock and 8th at Central Catholic.
The WPIAL policy of only allowing 1 runner from schools that had no official team to enter the WPIAL championship meet reared its ugly head again. This year, however, both the boys and the girls would be affected. At the end of the season, both senior Cherie Buday and sophomore Melanie Lutz were running well for the girls. For the boys, both junior Shane Sarver and sophomore Brendan Reilly were running well. Although the choices were clear, it was once again a shame to have to leave the runners-up behind.
At the WPIAL finals those choices proved to be the right ones. Melanie bettered her time on the Slippery Rock course to run to 33rd place and earn a trip to the State Meet at Hershey. Shane improved his time by almost two minutes from the year at the WPIAL finals, finishing 13th and earning a medal and trip to Hershey.
At the state meet in Hershey, Melanie ran well and improved her time over the WPIAL meet but finished in the middle of the pack. Shane, however, did not fair so well. He complained of an upset stomach before the race and ran a time almost a minute slower that the week before at Slippery Rock. It was the consensus of all that he must have eaten too much and too late at the Olive Garden the evening before the race. Upon returning home, the pain did not subside. It turns out that he was suffering from appendicitis and had to have it removed two weeks after Hershey.
With so many great runners returning for the 2004 season, it seemed only logical to make the next move: petition the School Board and the WPIAL to give cross-country official team status. Permission was granted and history was made: Freeport had an official cross-country team for both boys and girls. Now 7 boys and 7 girls could compete at the WPIAL championship meet and have the opportunity to qualify for the state meet at Hershey.
The number of runners out for the team made history also. The team had grown to sixteen: nine girls and seven boys. The girls picked up senior Stephanie Walters, sophomores Karolyn Kasely and Cassie Treshok, and freshman Christine Marty. The boys lost sophomore Jim Meyer, who decided to play football but we picked up sophomores Cory Chelko, Shaun Visnesky, and Alex Wheeler and Freshman Bill Lucas.
After a warm up scrimmage at Knoch, the Jackets took a road trip to Southmoreland to compete in the first section meet in Freeport XC history. The girls defeated Southmoreland and Steel Valley as expected. But the surprise came on the boy’s side. The boys also defeated both teams. We managed to defeat Southmoreland by having Shane Sarver, Brendan Reilly, and Shaun Visnesky 1-2-3 them, which, in a dual meet means if a team takes the first 3 places, that team wins mathematically, regardless of the finish of the other 2 runners. This was a remarkable victory considering that Southmoreland made the state meet as a team the previous year and only lost one senior. We came away from Southmoreland with the sweep; both teams won both meets. The new kids on the block were on top of the section.
The following Saturday found the Freeport XC team running on a soggy Slippery Rock University course following a day that saw over 7.5 inches of rain fall due to the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. But that did not slow the ‘Jackets down as the girls finished an impressive 10th out of 17 strong teams and the boys finishing 16/27. Melanie showed that she was ready to earn a WPIAL medal by finishing 15th out of 148 runners. Shane showed that he was aiming for a state medal by finishing 6th out of 197.
The following Tuesday Freeport XC made history by hosting their first home meet ever in what proved to be a showdown of section powers. Riverview, Greensburg Central Catholic, and Freeport girls were clearly the 3 best teams in section 4. On the boy’s side, Freeport and GCC, along with Shadyside Academy, who we would face later, were the best teams. The girls defeated GCC but lost to a very strong Riverview team. The boys lost to GCC, who would end up winning the WPIAL team title.
The girls finished the season without losing another section meet, making them section runners-up and finished 10th out of 30 teams at the WPIAL championships. The boys lost to SSA to finish with a 6-2 section record and finished 16th out of 38 teams at the WPIAL’s. Not bad for a team in their first year of official existence.
At the WPIAL Championships, Melanie finished 14th out of 215 runners, earning herself a medal and a second trip to the State Championship meet in Hershey. Kristen finished 26th and Kirsten finished 33rd to earn their first trip to Hershey. Shane finished 4th out of 277 runners earning himself a medal and a trip to the State Meet. Brendan finished 20th, also earning a medal, and Shaun finished 35th to earn trips to the state meet. Freeport was taking 6 runners to Hershey, more than any other school that did not send a team.
At the state meet, Freeport continued their historic season with another first: Shane Sarver finished 13th out of 281 runners, making him the first Freeport XC runner to earn a state medal. Brendan fell just short of his goal of finishing in the top 100 with a 101st place finish. Melanie, Kirsten, and Kristen ran well but finished in the middle of the pack with Kirsten leading the way, finishing 143rd out of 284.
The 2005 season began with the girls setting a goal of making it to the State Championship meet as a team. The top 5 runners were back from the previous season and hopes were high. We also picked up a strong freshman in Brittany Macshane, who would soon take over the number 5 spot. We also picked up a slew of new runners: sophomores Sami Jo Boroski, Julie Dickey, Charlie Dumot, Krysty Hawk, Megan Nacy, and Alex Toy. We also picked up additional freshmen Kendellyn Hoscheid, Ashley Pernazza, and Katie Screen giving Freeport its biggest ever girls team with 16 runners. Winning the section however would prove to be tough road, with Riverview and GCC returning all of their runners.
The boys would have a little tougher road to follow with the loss of Shane Sarver. But with the return of senior Brendan Reilly, who was running stronger than ever, and junior Shaun Visnesky and the addition of junior Matt Thaemert, things were looking good for a winning season. We also picked up seniors Chad Baker and Gary Morrison and freshman Sean Carnahan to give us the biggest boy’s team ever with 10 runners.
After a warm-up scrimmage at Knoch, Freeport hosted its first ever mini-invitational with 4 teams coming to Harrison Hill Park for an exhibition meet. Then it was on to the first section meet, also at Harrison Hills. The boys were knocked out of section contention early as they lost to Southmoreland. The girls, however, rolled to victories over Steel Valley and Southmoreland, taking the first 6 places against both teams. This set up, once again, a showdown between Riverview and GCC at Riverview Park in Oakmont.
In what proved to be a war by the river, the Freeport Lady ‘Jackets lost 2 close meets to eventual WPIAL champs Riverview and eventual runners-up GCC. The boys lost to eventual state qualifier GCC. Both teams had 2 section losses but neither would lose another section meet. Both teams finished with section records of 6-2. The boys finished 12-4 and the girls finished 13-3 overall. The girls still had a shot at making it to the state meet as a team, as 4 teams get to go.
At the WPIAL Championship meet, there were 4 girls teams, including Freeport, who had a shot at remaining 2 positions to go to Hershey. The Lady ‘Jackets ran well but finished out of state contention but a very impressive 6th in the WPIAL. Three of the top 6 teams in the WPIAL came from section 4! The strong core that has lead the Freeport girls for the past 3 years returned to the state meet with Melanie Lutz finishing 8th and earning a medal, Kristen Prazenica finishing 16th to also earn a medal, and Kirsten Knappenberger finishing 23rd.
The boys, while not having a shot at the state meet as a team, finished a very respectable 12th in the WPIAL with new senior Chad Baker helping out as our 5th man. Brendan Reilly earned his second trip to the state meet by finishing 6th and getting a medal.
At the State Meet at Hershey, the four Freeport runners had some big goals. Brendan’s goal was to medal and maybe finish in the top 10. He earned Freeport’s second state medal in 2 years by finishing 17th. Melanie’s goal was to finish in the top 50 any maybe top 25 a get a medal. She was 47th. Kirsten’s and Kristen’s goal was to finish in the top 100. They were 113th and 115th.
The 2006 season would prove to be a rebuilding season as both the girls and the boys teams suffered heavy loses to graduation over the past two years.
The girls lost two of their best runners to date, Kirsten Knappenberger and Melanie Lutz. However, with the return of Kristen Prazenica, Christine Marty, and Brittany MacShane as a core, things did not look all that bad. However, section 4 would once again prove to be one of the stronger sections with Riverview repeating as WPIAL champs and GCC qualifying for the state meet and Shadyside Academy finishing 6th. For the second year in a row, 3 of the top 6 WPIAL teams came from section 4. The girls finished 16th. Senior Kristen Prazenica finished 31st to qualify for the State Meet for the 3rd year in a row.
The boys team not only lost Brendan Reilly to graduation but senior Shaun Visnesky decided not to return for his senior year. Those 2 losses left the boys in the same situation as the girls. The boys also had a good core of runners returning in with seniors Cory Chelko, Bryan Tague, Matt Thaemert, and Alex Wheeler. The boys team picked up three promising runners: sophomore Eric Dunn and freshmen Sergei Dines and Matt Hall. These 3 newcomers quickly moved into the top 5 and helped the team finish with a respectable 4-4 record in a strong section 4. GCC and Riverview finished 4th and 5th in the WPIAL with Southmoreland and SSA finishing 10th and 11th.
Though the boys had a rough year, the future looks bright with the return of Eric, Sergei, Matt, and sophomore Sean Carnahan. Also, there are no juniors on the team so the team should continue to improve over the next 2 years.
SEASON TEN 2007
Season ten proved to be one of surprises for the boys and disappointment for the girls.
The girls started to season with limited enthusiasm. Despite the loss of their number one runner from the previous year, the girls had a core of returning seniors that, hopefully, would lead them to a successful season. Also, the girls were pleasantly surprised when senior Anna Ford decided to run.
However, injury hit the Lady Jackets early and often. Before the season even started it was discovered that senior Alex Toy, a starter from last year, had a stress fracture in her foot and would be out for the rest of the season. Junior Brittany MacShane, a 2 year previous starter, decided to leave the team for personal reasons, and continually improving junior Ashley Pernazza injured the bottom of her foot and would be out for the rest of the season. Junior Katy Screen had some health problems and, despite several valiant efforts, was unable to compete at 100%.
Despite all of the problems, seniors Sami Jo Boroski, Anna Ford, and Christine Marty ran well to help lead the Lady Jackets. Freshmen Cheyenne Conrad and Lauren Screen were welcome additions to the team and they ran well to help fill in for the ill and injured. Cheyenne, Lauren, and sophomore Julie Thomas worked hard and continued to improve all year making the future seem bright for the girls.
The Boys team seemed to have the opposite fate in store for them. At the end of last season, there were only 4 confirmed returning team members. Although those four, juniors Sean Carnahan and Eric Dunn and sophomores Sergei Dines and Matt Hall, are a talented core of runners, it takes 5 to make a team.
However, summer conditioning and practice saw the emergence of 6, count ‘em 6, freshman coming out for the team; easily a record.
Although the boys graduated their top runner, three starters returned, Sergei, Eric D. and Matt H. Freshmen Eric Snyder, Steven Posney, and Terry Cunningham were soon competing for the 2 starting positions.
On the Monday of the second week of practice the next major surprise happened to the Men of Freeport. Juniors Antonio Giori, Matt Maxwell, and Corey Tague decided to leave the football team and join the XC team. Tony moved quickly in to the starting line up, eventually taking over the number 4 spot. Matt and Corey had some conditioning to do but eventually where in position to compete for the six and seven spots.
The Men of Freeport were now set: Sergei, Eric D., and Matt H. returned from last year to take over the 1, 2, and 3 spots. Newcomers Tony and Eric S. moved into the number 4 and 5 spots. Matt M. moved firmly into the number 6 spot and Steven into the number 7 spots. Terry and Corey were right in the mix for the 6 and 7 spots. Sean had chronic back problems and, as a probable starter for the basketball team, it was decided that he should rest for the last third of season.
The boys had a very successful season, finishing 5-3 in a very tough section 4-AA. Their losses came to Riverview, Southmoreland, and Greensburg Central Catholic, who finished 4, 5, and 6 in the WPIAL.
With no seniors on the team, the Men set a goal to make it to the state meet next year. To start that journey, they set their goal on a top ten finish at the WPIAL meet. They finished a very impressive 12th in the WPIAL and future looks very bright.
Season Eleven would start out as one with the highest team expectations ever for the boys and an apparent low point and rebuilding year for the girls.
The boys were expected to return all 7 boys from the previous year’s WPIAL 12th place team. Add that to the fact that two teams that finished above them at the WPIAL meet last year, Mars and Southmoreland, moved up to AAA meant that goals were set for a top 4 finish and the first team trip ever to the state meet at Hershey. However when the first day of practice rolled around it was discovered that two of the top 5 runners from the previous year decided to pursue other sports. This left a very difficult task for the remaining 5 returning starters from last year.
Some help arrived, though, with the addition of sophomore Kevin Keppel, who quickly moved into the number 2 spot. The team, however, was not able to make up the difference for the other missing starter. Section 4-AA once again turned out to be one of the tougher sections with Riverview finishing 2nd in the WPIAL, Shadyside 12th, Greensburg Central Catholic 11th, and Southmoreland competing in our section, even though they were AAA.
Even though the team will be losing Seniors Tony Giori, Matt Maxwell, and Corey Tague, number 1 runner Sergei Dines will return as a senior next year along with a strong group who will return as juniors.
With the loss of three starters, the girls were looking to rebuild for the future. Sophomores Cheyenne Conrad and Lauren Screen would return to provide a solid core. Junior Julie Thomas was expected to move into the starting lineup but injuries plagued her the entire year. Senior Ashley Pernazza also would be returning after a season ending injury during the previous year.
The girls picked up what would prove to be a strong trio of freshman girls: Carol Amadee, Julia D’Amico, Jessica Fix. These girls worked very hard during the off season and came into the regular season strong and they performed well. Jessica and Carol quickly moved into the number 1 and 2 spots.
Lauren performed admirably in the number 3 spot despite fighting tendonitis in her hip the entire season. Cheyenne and Julia wrapped up the top 5. Sophomore Jenna Davis also joined the team and steadily improved during season.
With that core of sophomores and freshmen returning as juniors and sophomores next year and the addition of freshman Kayla Zboran, who had a strong junior high season this year, the next two years look bright for the Ladies of Freeport.
Season twelve started off with some bad news for the boys: senior Sergei Dines had moved to Florida. He was expected to lead a veteran group of juniors to a possible section championship. Relief came soon, though, when seniors Nick Gentile and Lucas Kubeldis decided to come out for the team. Nick was given permission to participate in both soccer and XC. But section 4-AA proved to be tough once again. We started off with the 2 toughest teams, Shadyside Academy and Southmoreland. The following week was no easier against Greensburg Central Catholic. The Men of Freeport were very quickly 1-3. GCC and SSA finished 3rd and 4th in the WPIAL.
Nick and juniors Kevin Keppel, Eric Snyder, and Stephen Posney performed well all season but Stephen was unable to finish the season due to some health issues. Lucas, and juniors Kyle Zboran, Zack Will, and Joey Sadecky rounded out the top 8. We finished 21st, well out of the goal of top ten. Nick qualified for the state meet by finishing 11th at the WPIAL meet. He finished 62nd at the state meet.
The girl’s goal of a section championship and top ten WPIAL finish met a very similar fate as the boys. SSA, Riverview, and Southmoreland once again proved to be the top teams in section 4-AA. A single point loss to traditional power GCC, though, provided encouraging for a high finish at WPIAL’s. SSA finished 2nd and Riverview 11th at WPIAL. The Lady Jackets ended up a respectable 15th and avenged the loss to GCC, who finished 20th.
Freshman Kayla Zboran led the Lady Jackets by finishing first in all 8 section meets except SSA. She avenged that at the WPIAL meet by beating all of the SSA girls to finish second. She finished 34th at the state meet. Sophomore Jessica Fix, last year’s top runner, was unable to compete due to recurring ankle problems. Junior Lauren Screen and sophomore Carol Amadee alternated between the 2nd and 3rd positions. Sophomore Julia D’Amico moved into the top 5 after being injured the first half of the season. Freshmen Zoe Reitz and Rachel Sadecky quickly moved into the top 6 and juniors Cheyenne Conrad and Jenna Davis rounded out the top 8.
All of the top 8 ladies are returning for next year. 8th graders Hayley Davis, Becca Dudek, and Laura Will had strong junior high seasons and, with the possible return of Jess Fix, the Lady Jackets are, once again, setting their goals high for the coming year.
The season started off with high hopes with the boys. Even with the loss of Nick and Lucas, a strong senior class returned. Steven Posney was steady improving by being able to train harder after years of health problems. Kevin Keppel and Eric Snyder looked stronger than ever. Zach Will and junior Ryan Armitage also showed much improvement. The addition of a strong freshman, Colin Meehan, and the steady improvement of seniors Kyle Zboran and Joey Sadecky kept those hopes high. The Men of Freeport looked good through the first 3 meets.
As in the past, we started off by traveling to Shadyside Academy to face off with the two best teams in the section, SSA and Southmoreland. The meet started off well until disaster struck: Senior Eric Snyder off the course, doubled over in pain, with appendicitis. With the senior leader and number 2-3 runner out, apparently for the season, the Men would struggle for the rest of the season. They still managed a very respectable 6-3 section record. Eric was able to return for the last 3 meets but, with missing 4 weeks of training, he was not 100%. Kevin turned in a very strong performance at the WPIAL championship, finishing 43 out of 262 runners.
With every girl returning from a very strong 2009 team, the Women of Freeport had very high hopes of becoming the Golden Girls of the WPIAL. The addition of one of the strongest freshman classes in our history, Kelly Amadee, Hayley Davis, Becca Dudek, and Laura Will, added fuel to the fire. Also, junior London Johnston, a sprinter on the track team, joined the team and steady improved throughout the year and moved into the top seven. They looked great at the Slippery Rock Invitational, finishing 5th in a very strong field. But, as usual, the first section meet was the toughest: SSA and Southmoreland. On a very hot and sunny day at SSA, the 3 teams battled in a very hard fought war. Our Women gave it their all but perennial power SSA prevailed once more. Laura, Hayley, and Becca had an exceptional first dual meet of their careers and, even in defeat, the Women of Freeport made a statement: we will be one of the teams to beat on the way to Hershey.
The Women ran the table in section 4-AA, including a hard fought home win over perennial power Greensburg Central Catholic, to finish as section runners-up with an 8-1 record.
At the WPIAL Championship meet, the women hoped to avenge the loss to SSA and qualify as a team for Hershey. Kayla Zboran entered the meet as the defending WPIAL individual runner-up. Becca entered with hopes of making the top 30 or so and moving on to Hershey as an individual. Both girls ran very well with Kayla finishing 7th to advance to Hershey and Becca finished 45th, narrowly missing the state cut off.
On the team side, most of the girls performed well. Junior Carol Amadee turned in her best time of the year, improving by almost 2 minutes from the SRU invitational, to help in the team effort. However, one starter was unable to run and another became sick during the meet. Although disappointment reigned, the hope for the future is still very high, with the loss of only one senior starter.
After a disappointing 16th place WPIAL finish last year but with all but one starter returning, the girls were determined to win the section and go to the PIAA meet. After a summer of hard work, the girls traveled to Knoch for the annual Butler Co. scrimmage. Even though no official score was kept, a quick calculation showed that the girls finished 2nd only to perennial AAA power Butler. The next test was the small Freeport Invitational at Harrison Hills Park. The girls defeated another perennial AAA power, Greensburg-Salem. The following Saturday, the girls traveled to the Slippery Rock Invitational, an early test of AA competition. With the section showdown with Shadyside Academy coming up on Tuesday, most of the girls decided to not run at 100% and Becca Dudek was held out with a sore knee. The girls finished a disappointing, but surprising considering the situation, 9th.
Once again, the first section meet of the year turned out to be the section showdown with SSA. Only this year, we were on a neutral and less confusing course at Southmoreland. SSA’s Emily Lamm began the race with a blistering 75 for the first 400m on the track. Could she hold that pace? In a word, yes. This was OK as long as Kayla Zboran could finish 2nd and Becca needed to be 3rd or 4th and Hayley Davis needed to be 5th or 6th. The key would be the 4th and 5th girls. Laura Will had a great race, finishing 7th. The number 5 girl needed to be 9th. Carol Amadee, this year’s only senior and last year’s number 5 girl was barely holding on to 9th place as they came up the hill to the finish. Suddenly, the much improved Nicole Miller past both Carol and the SSA girl to take 9th. Carol, running her best time of the year, passed the SSA girl on the track to finish 10th and displace the SSA’s 5th girl to 11th. The Women of Freeport prevailed 27-29 and Nicole emerged as the very important number 5 girl and Carol a strong number 6 girl. Newcomer Marisa Mattioli and Rachel Sadecky were steadily improving. We had the depth we needed to make it to Hershey.
The following week would be no easier as we had to face a very strong Greensburg Central Catholic. The good news was that, again, we were at a neutral course at Kittanning instead of the GCC weed maze. The bad news is that GCC had finished a very impressive 3rd at Slippery Rock. Without going into much detail, we realized how good we were when the GCC coach, seeing the final score of 21-37, commented to Coach Livrone: “What the ______ was that?!” to which Coach Livrone responded: “I don’t know. I guess we are for real!”
The following Saturday was the Central Catholic Invitational in the pouring rain. The girls were told to take it easy and not get hurt. Even with taking it easy, the girls finished 2nd to a team we would need to beat later, Beaver.
The girls won their remaining section meets to win the section for the first time in Freeport history!
The girls then traveled to the Freedom Invitational for a warm up meet one week before the WPIAL meet. We won or first big invitational in history which included beating Freedom and Beaver, avenging the earlier loss, and setting up the WPIAL showdown.
At the totally mud covered WPIAL meet, Kayla needed to finish in the top ten and Becca in the top twenty-five for us to make it to Hershey. During the race, Kayla fell back to 12th but good teams find a way to win and good teammates have each other’s back. Becca moved up to 14th and the team finished 3rd to make history again-Freeport would bring its first team to the PIAA meet at Hershey! We beat some great teams to get there: Beaver, Freedom, Avonworth, South Fayette, and Derry.
At Hershey, the girls performed very well, finishing 15th in the state and beating South Park, who beat us at the WPIAL meet.
Once again, the Ladies will be returning 7 of their top 8 girls next year.
At the beginning of summer, things looked bleak for the boys. With losing 7 seniors to graduation, David Brickeen moving to Florida, and Ryan Armitage deciding not to run, there were only 5 boys left on the team. The coaches began to wonder if we would win a meet in the fall.
But along came the Cavalry in the form of seniors Nick Brosius, Jake McQueen, Jeremy Wiles, junior Zane Geist, and sophomores Mitch O’Shell and Gavin Gaspersic all joining the team for the first time. Freshman Ryan Miller arrived following a very good junior high season. All of the sudden we had 12 on the team.
Sophomore Colin Meehan moved into the number 1 spot with Nick B. quickly moving into the number 2 spot. But the team was very young. Even with 5 seniors and 1 junior, most of them were 1st year runners, as was Mitch.
The team once again faced the eventual section champ SSA in the first meet and GCC in the second meet. They did, however, rebound in the 3rd and 4th meets to finish with a winning 5-4 record in the section.
The young team steadily improved during the season as they prepared for the future. Sophomores Jared Kapustik and Nick Milliron turned in steady performances all year.
The Men of Freeport ran well at the muddy WPIAL meet, finishing a not too shabby 20th. Colin turned in our top performance but the trip to Hershey eluded him.
This was a true rebuilding year but with most of the young team returning, the future looks bright.