ELMA - While the weather and, by extension, the track conditions at Elma Meadows may have dictated otherwise, there was no slowing down the usual stars at the Section 6 Cross Country State Qualifier on Friday.
Shrugging off muddy conditions that would have perhaps affected runners of lesser ability, Maple Grove's Hope Pietrocarlo captured the individual victory for Class D in leading her Lady Red Dragons' to a near-flawless team victory, while Corey Wefing, also of Maple Grove, continued his dominance - he hasn't lost a race all year - in the boys race by crossing the finish line a full 30 seconds ahead of his next closest competitor.
Along with Pietrocarlo and Wefing, 27 others (20 girls and seven boys) from the area earned a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state meet on Nov. 10.
Just as they did in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championships last week, Maple Grove’s Corey Wefing and Hope Pietrocarlo finished first at the state qualifier on Friday.
P-J file photos by Scott Kindberg
It was, in short, yet more proof that area cross country is some of the best in the state.
"They all ran tough," Maple Grove coach Robert ''Doc'' Rappole said, "and did a really great job."
Pietrocarlo, a freshman, finished the 3.1-mile course in 19:04.2, which was the third-best time in all of Section 6. Right behind her were teammates Megan Marsh (second, 20:14.5), Caroline Benson (third, 20:21.9) and Taylor Norris (fifth, 20:32.3), helping the squad to the team victory with 18 points and thus earning all seven team members a chance to battle for a third straight state title next week.
"The girls couldn't have run better," Rappole continued. "(Having five finish in the top seven) is a ridiculous number and honestly, between Hope, Megan and Caroline, you never know who is going to win. Megan was first at states last year, Caroline was second at states three years ago and Taylor can be in the mix on any given day as well. It's great."
In this race, however, it was Pietrocarlo who left no doubt the race was hers.
"Hope was taking no prisoners," Rappole said. "Just like last week (at the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championships), she took off and said, 'This is my race.'
"With a half-mile gone, she had already left everybody."
The state's second-ranked runner for the class, Pietrocarlo finished 1:10 ahead of Marsh.
"It felt really good," Pietrocarlo said of the victory. "I was with Megan for the start and then by the one-mile mark I felt comfortable. I was alone for the whole race after that, which was good because it gave me time to focus."
Sherman, whose best finishers - and state qualifiers - were Holly Eliason (fourth, 20:30.8), Rebecca King (sixth, 21:05.3) and Katie Pacy (10th, 21:31.0), was second with 59 points, Silver Creek third with 63, Frewsburg fourth with 106 and Barker fifth with 107.
Silver Creek's Hannah Seiders, who finished eighth in 21:07.5, and Emma Seiders, who took ninth in 21:08.2, were the other state qualifiers from Class D.
One-hundred percent of the Section 6 state representatives from Class D are from the CCAA.
In Class C, meanwhile, Fredonia's Lauren Reyda took the top prize behind her time of 19:51.6, and the Lady Hillbillies tallied 42 points for the team victory and a trip to states.
Behind Reyda were teammates Michaela Tramuta (fifth, 20:39.8) and Clare Foley (sixth, 20:40.5).
Also qualifying for next week's meet was Kirsten Holmberg of Falconer, who finished seventh in 20:45.1.
Rounding out the girls qualifiers was Olivia Zabrodsky of Jamestown. She ran what coach Steve Sipior called a "stellar" race, finishing fourth (20:17.5) overall in Class A.
Despite Wefing's strong race - and top-10, state-qualifying finishes by fellow Red Dragons Josh Ahlstrom (fourth, 18:00.2), Frank Zuroski (eighth, 18:20.1) and Colin Green (ninth, 18:20.6), Maple Grove fell just short of dethroning juggernaut Barker, which topped the Red Dragons, 26-34.
Barker, the defending state champions, have now won six straight Section 6 crowns.
"The boys came up just a tad short again," Rappole said. "It was a lot closer than (the eight) points (suggest), but that's why you've got to race. Our kids ran hard and I thought we had them. It was really close."
What wasn't close, however, was Wefing's win.
"Corey was terrific," Rappole said. "Nobody could stay with him."
Added Wefing, "It was a tough course, but I pulled ahead pretty quick. I was going for the win and I wasn't going to underestimate anybody. I wouldn't say it was easy, no race is easy, but it went very well."
The Maple Grove junior is the second-ranked runner in the state for Class D.
Following in the team standings was Sherman with 102 points, Frewsburg with 110, Randolph with 140, Silver Creek with 149, Olmsted with 188 and Franklinville with 202.
Along with the four aforementioned Maple Grove qualifiers, Ryan Carpenter of Sherman earned a state berth with a seventh-place finish (18:18.6).
Southwestern's Ryan Hetrick and Jordan Powers took fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Class C race to qualify for the state meet. Hetrick finished in 17:40.9 while Powers was close behind at 17:48.6.
"(Hetrick and Powers) did really well," Southwestern coach Dan Lewis said. "The conditions weren't the most ideal, but Ryan made this a goal at the beginning of the season and Jordan really improved towards the end to make it happen."
This will be the first trip to states for both Trojans.
Rounding out the qualifiers was Olean's John Panus in Class B. He was fifth overall with a time of 17:06.7.
The state meet will be held at Elma Meadows next Saturday with the girls race slated to begin at 10 a.m. and the boys at noon.