Honesdale's girls knock of Prep and Holy Cross; Boys solid as well
Less than 24 hours before it was slated to begin, Honesdale officials were shocked to discover they'd be hosting the final cluster meet of the 2018 Lackawanna League cross country campaign.
Carbondale Area was originally scheduled to be the home team for this event, which would feature Honesdale, Scranton Prep, Holy Cross, Forest City and Western Wayne.
However, due to dreadful conditions at Merli-Sarnoski Park, running any type of race there on Tuesday afternoon was simply out of the question.
And so, as has happened countless times in the past, the word went out and local folks leapt into action.
“I found out with a phone call Monday night,” said veteran head coach Lindsey Pender. “And my first reaction was just: 'No. We can't possibly pull that off.'
“But, it didn't take me long to realize we really didn't have a choice and that I'd better get moving.”
Coach Pender made a few phone calls of her own, sent out a couple of text messages and … presto!
“I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for all the help we got,” she said.
“The administration was great, the custodial staff was amazing and our parents are just the best. They made it all happen.”
And, what exactly did they make happen?
Well, in less than a day, they organized a major cluster meet that featured hundreds of junior high and varsity runners.
They stocked and staffed a concession stand that provided homemade food and drinks.
They provided volunteers who took care of marking out the course and handling parking duties. They also made arrangements for ambulances, security and media coverage.
Perhaps most importantly of all, they allowed the coaching staff to focus on the task of preparing Hornet runners for a meet which carried huge post season implications.
“It's very hard to actually coach at a home meet because there are so many other things you have to worry about,” Lindsey said.
“But, our kids are just phenomenal. They adjusted on the fly, stayed focused and got the job done.”
That job, for Honesdale's girls in particular, was to defeat two of the region's perennial cross country powerhouses. And, to their undying credit, that's exactly what they did.
The Lady Hornets put the finishing touches on another stellar season with a brilliant effort against two of the area's top teams.
Led by the potent 1-2 punch of Mackenzie LaMorte and Dana Pratt, the local lasses defeated Prep (25-30) and Holy Cross (18-39).
With these victories, Coach Pender's squad closed out the season with a dazzling 21-2 record.
“I'm very proud of our girls,” Coach Pender said. “I honestly didn't know what to expect, but they went out there and ran a great race. They were so focused and determined. That was awesome to see.”
Among Lackawanna League schools, the Lady Hornets finished behind only an unbeaten Abington Heights squad and a one-loss Valley View team.
Now, with the league season in the rearview mirror, it's time to prepare for the District Two Meet.
“There's no real clear-cut favorite in AA,” said Coach Pender. “Our goal is always to win it and get to states, but we're going to have our hands full with Valley View and Prep. And, you can't count out Holy Redeemer or Western Wayne either.”
On Tuesday, the Red & Black authored the type of performance that they'll need next Wednesday at Lakeland High School.
Prep's Mia Bellucci was the overall race winner, posting a sizzling time of 20:43 on a muddy, rain-drenched course.
Rachel Korty of Forest City was runner-up, crossing the line at 21:50.
Then came LaMorte and Pratt. Mackenzie finished third with a time of 22:07, while Dana took fourth at 22:14. Tedra Harrison also cracked the Top Ten, stopping the clock at 23:09 for eighth place.
Isabella Frigoletto, Rachel Olver and Alexandra Skidmore sealed the deal on a signature team triumph. Frigoletto was 13th overall (23:52), while Olver was 14th (23:53) and Skidmore 20th (24:51).
“I knew it was going to come down to our fourth, fifth and sixth runners,” said Coach Pender. “Those girls did a tremendous job pushing the Prep back.”
Western Wayne placed four runners inside the Top 20: Madison Kammer (22:51), Annie Skirpan (23:27), Paige Barillo (23:42) and Audrey Lawlor (23:49).
While Honesdale's boys varsity squad didn't come away with any wins on Tuesday, seven Hornets did acquit themselves well.
Dustin Edsall paced the Red & Black attack with a fifth place finish in a time of 19:44.
Eric Lukan (20:25) and David Mead (20:34) also claimed spots inside the Top Ten.
Tyler Olver (21:30), JP Ahern (2:36), Miguel Salvador (21:39) and Kemeron Slish (22:06) each contributed a Top 20 effort.
Holy Cross' Andre Healey and Stephen Postupak from Prep battled right down to the stretch run for top honors overall. Healey pulled away in the final 400 meters to finish first (19:26). Postupak was second (19:34).