Runners ready to run at conference title

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

It has been 19 days since Pitt-Johnstown men’s and women’s cross country teams have competed in a race, but the break has given both time get better in preparation for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships Nov. 8 in Mansfield, Tioga County.

The last event in which the teams competed was Oct. 18 at the Gettysburg College Invitational.  In that race, the Lady Cats finished in 22nd place of 30 schools while the men finished in 26th place.

Both teams go into the conference championships with different perspectives and goals, mostly depending how far along each individual are in their collegiate career.

The Mountain Cats have gone from being a tandem of brothers to a full roster that could compete as a team within a year’s time.

That would not have been possible if it was not for a sizable recruiting class head coach Shane Valko brought in before this season.

No one on the team is coming into the conference championship race with 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race experience.

“It’s my first year and first (10-kilometer race), so I am looking forward to it and hoping it will be a good stepping stone toward regionals,” freshman James Horwat said.

“The team is in the same mindset since nobody has run that far competitively.

Although there are eight underclassmen on a team with 11 runners, The Lady Cats have what the men don’t, senior leadership and experience.

Seniors Allie Pagano, Sasha Peterman and Elena Mingora all have raced in a conference championship in both the Pennsylvania conference and the West Virginia conference.

It also could be the last race for all three women.

“It is my senior year, so I am going in with a positive mindset even though the competition is stiff with other schools,” Mingora said.

“We are working hard to stay competitive.”