Yesterday on a bright, crisp afternoon, the fastest varsity boys cross-country team in School history approached the starting line at the DIAA State Championship Meet with joyful determination. They had accomplished so much this season. They had won the Lake Forest Invitational (22 teams), Middletown Invitational (16 teams), Killens Pond Invitational (22 teams), and finished third in the Joe O'Neill Invitational (36 teams) and in the New Castle County Championship (30 teams). Every varsity runner had seen significant improvements in his PR. Mid-season, they broke the school record for varsity team time, then broke their own record twice more as the second half of the season progressed. Predictably, on the last race of their careers, co-captains Alex Horgan '18 and Alec Baretto '18 would again set new PRs for themselves and help the Saints break the team time school record for the fourth time this season, with a team time of 16:42. These Saints can really fly.
The goal today was to win the state championship—a feat that has eluded our team all but once, in 1988. Last year the varsity roster consisted of the same runners with one exception: Blake Hundley '19 was unable to race in 2016, and Christian Doucette '18 raced in his place. This year, Blake was in fine form and the Saints hoped to improve on their 2016 second place state championship finish (behind the Tatnall School by seventeen points).
This year, the Saints (Horgan, Tad Schiebe '19, Blake Hundley '19, Will Camerzell '19, Baretto, Carson McCoy '19 and Augie Segger '19) attacked the Killens Pond State Park course with confidence. The contest with Tatnall was up in the air at the one-mile point. This is where the course turns quiet and winds though inaccessible woods. When the boys came out of the woods Horgan had made decisive progress against his rivals and his third place position would hold through to the finish. Schiebe, Camerzell and Baretto were also in excellent position and only improved in the third mile. Every one of the SAS runners ran with terrific grit and focus and should be proud of their achievement. However, the Tatnall boys ran especially well and won the race. Their 16:24 team-time is the fastest team-time in the entire history of the Division II State Championships. Nevertheless, Tatnall's margin of victory was slimmer than last year. With five returning varsity runners, SAS racing fans have another exciting season to look forward to in 2018.
To put the 2017 team in proper context, consider the team-time of the 1988 State Champions—18:09—almost a minute and a half slower than the Saints ran in this year's state championship meet. The top SAS runner in 1988 (who placed fourth in the state meet) would be a JV runner on today's team.
It was sad to have so many talented JV runners on the sidelines yesterday, especially seniors Will Gray '18, Christian Doucette '18, Ben Covell '18, Dylan Torrance '18 (co-captain), and James Doucette '18, many of who had previously raced as varsity members. The leadership of these seniors throughout this season was vital to the success of the whole team.
Individual performance highlights are listed below:
Alex Horgan: third place, 15:57. Together with his 16:06 performance last week Alex now has both the third and fourth fastest performances on the SAS All-Time Individual Record List. Only two runners in school history have finished higher in the state race, namely, two-time individual champion (in 1998 and 1999), Morgan Scoville '00, and 2008 individual-runner-up Tyler Gehrs '09, who was there on Saturday to see the 2017 race. Having one of the top five performances from the Division I and II races combined, Alex is assured of selection to the First Team All-State.
Tad Scheibe: 10th place, 16:3—this was a PR for Tad.
Blake Hundley: 12th place, 16:53—this is Blake's second-fastest performance, second only to last-week's PR, which gave Blake the sophomore school record. He now holds both the freshman and sophomore records.
Will Cammerzell: 16th place, 17:01—this was a 14-second PR for Will, the biggest improvement in PR for any SAS boy yesterday.
Alec Baretto: 18th place, 17:05—a PR for the second week in a row.
Carson McCoy: 20th place, 17:14—only seven seconds off his PR from last week.
Augie Segger: 32nd place, 17:28—only one second off his PR from last week.