Six members of the Foxes’ girls’ cross country team had the thrill of a lifetime when they won the PIAA title a few weeks ago, but recently the runners also experienced much satisfaction after competing in the invitation-only Nike Cross Regionals Northeast Qualifier.
Held on November 25, 2017, in Wappingers Fall, New York, the team once again laced up their shoes and finished third among a field of 227 female racers representing 27 teams. Some of the top-ranked individual runners from eight states, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, participated in the race.
The team just missed the cut-off to advance to Nike’s national competition – only the top two teams from eight regional competitions across the country qualify – which is generally considered the unofficial championship for U.S. high school cross country teams.
The Fox Chapel Area girls who competed were senior Caelan Miller, who has committed to run cross country and track at the University of Pittsburgh, juniors Anna Folkerts, Sarena Seeger and Annika Urban, and sophomores Brooke Krally and Grace Sisson.
Coach Tom Moul, who recently was honored as the Pennsylvania Track and Field Association Girls’ Coach of the Year, said the girls were somewhat disappointed with their finish, but did feel good about finishing third. Prior to the race, the team had been predicted to finish in seventh place.
“To think that last year we were excited just to make states [they finished 14th], and this year we won them, and then this… it’s just amazing to think of what we have accomplished in only one year,” says Brooke, who finished in 34th place and first among the Fox Chapel Area runners. “I shocked myself with where I finished. I just planned to run, not leave anything behind, and be proud of what I did. I never thought I’d be in the top-40!”
“Brooke went out and took the course by storm,” says Coach Moul, whose athletes only had one practice run before the race. “I was really proud of her. That makes the third different number-one runner for us this season. That really goes to show what a strong team we had. They did what they usually do: worked together on the course, ran hard, and consistently performed at a high level.”
Besides Brooke, the other members of the team and their finishes included Annika- 44th, Sarena-48th, Caelan-63rd, Grace-107th, and Anna-164th.