Undefeated for six years.
Say that one more time. Undefeated for six years.
The Titusville girls were taking their region win streak into Oil City to face a very tough Oiler team led by Corabel Shiley. Both squads wanted the win because the region title was also at stake.
A lot of pressure was put on Titusville’s number one runner Anna Mehlenbacher to secure a second place finish. Shiley smashed the course record with a 19:55 run a full minute ten seconds ahead of Mehlenbacher who was 15 seconds ahead of Oil City’s Addison Wyant who came in the number three spot.
It was then key for the next four Titusville runners to finish strong.
Eight and 11 seconds after Wyant finished, Titusville’s Sophia Sampson and Mackenzie Covell crossed the line. Madeline Johnson took the number seven spot by edging out Olivia Vorse and Emma Wright was just five seconds later getting the important number nine spot as Titusville’s fifth scorer ahead former course record holder Kennedy Liederbach.
“We knew they had a strong top (group of runners) and we had to stick at least one runner in there,” coach Joe Covell said. “And that was Anna, that was her job and then everyone else had to do their job.”
The way scoring works in team cross country is the the top five runners from each team score and the place they finish becomes their score Soa runner who finishes first gets one-point, a runner who finishes sixth gets six-points.
Low score wins.
Titusville won 27-28. That’s how close this win was.
“It took everybody today, not just one person,” Covell said. “It’s neat to see such and individualized sport come down to - it takes all seven on one day to win a race.”
The Titusville girls will be competing in the Rocky Grove Invitational which has become a premier local race over the years attracting over 40 or 50 schools. They are defending champs in the event.
After that are districts and they are hoping to break a streak they’re not as happy about. They haven’t had a state qualifier in over three years. “D10 is so difficult, you need to be state-caliber to come out of D10.” In the history of girls cross country the girls have been state champs twice in 1977 and 1994.
The young boys haven’t fared as well going 0-3 in the region this year. Covell said the Oil City team even without the top runner, who is injured, is looking to go to states as a team.
Rocket’s Bryan Johnson was the only runner to crack into Oil City’s top five taking fifth-place. Andrew Bryan, Josiah White, Even Slocum and Cash Lavery finished seven through ten.
Oil City won 16-39.
“You can say we have a rivalry, but it’s a friendly one,” Covell said. “All their kids know our kids and coaches all talk to each other so it’s a neat thing we have going on.”
Covell has talked all year about his team being young and there is a learning curve to team running.
“Our guys ran well today. The 0-3 record doesn’t show the caliber of runners we have. We’re just not there yet, we’re young, we have no seniors. Three of our top five are freshmen and we’re looking good. They ran exceptionally well today even though it doesn’t show that on the scoreboard.”
Covell looks to the future with the boys team as they build and learn. “They’re starting to believe in themselves when it becomes race time,” he added.
“I’m very proud of both the girls and the guys.”
Eight & 27 focuses on stories centered around Titusville, PA. With the sad end of The Titusville Herald, we're hoping to pick up the slack.