Oct. 26—MESHOPPEN — Brian McCormack already was going to try to set a course record. Then, he sadly got a little more motivation.
His maternal grandmother, Marianne Scanlan, died Tuesday.
Inspired by her memory, the Scranton High School senior repeated as Class 3A boys champion at the District 2 Cross Country Championships on an unseasonably warm Wednesday at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds. He covered the 3.1 miles in 15 minutes, 50.9 seconds to break the previous course record of 15:59.60 set by North Pocono's Caleb Kenyon in 2021.
"I was thinking of her the whole race," McCormack said. "It really pushed me through this."
However, McCormack's effort wasn't quite enough to help Scranton claim the team title. The Knights tied Hazleton Area with 67 points, but the Cougars took the team title on the sixth-runner tiebreaker to earn a trip to the PIAA Championships in Hershey on Nov. 4.
"It's tough. It just goes to show you that the sixth and seventh runners are just as important as Nos. 1 and 2," Scranton coach Jim Griffiths said.
Still, it was another banner day for the Lackawanna League, earning five of the district's nine available team berths for states and 33 of the 45 individual berths.
Aidan Graff of Scranton and Michael Donlon from Delaware Valley are going in Class 3A.
Scranton Prep boys earned their first district championship since 2014, totaling 73 points to take Class 2A honors over Crestwood, which had 102 points. Riverside senior Daniel Danilovitz won his second career district title in 16:14.5.
Wallenpaupack and Valley View each had two individual state qualifiers in Class 2A. Aiden Janowicz and Chase Predmore made it for the Buckhorns, while Ethan Williams and Evan Babarsky are going for the Cougars. Mid Valley's Matthew Repecki, Lakeland's Henry Decker, Dunmore's Tommy Clark and North Pocono's Noah Haines also qualified.
Elk Lake sophomore Kendel Jones repeated as the Class 1A champion in 16:21.7, while Montrose took the team title with 59 points over Elk Lake, which had 75 points. Lackawanna Trail's Brayden Clarke and Holy Cross' Luke Healey qualified as individuals.
In girls, Abington Heights totally dominated the Class 3A field, putting its seven runners in the top nine to finish with 18 points and repeat as team champs. Senior Emma Horsely passed sophomore teammate Anna Pucilowski shortly before the finish line to win individual honors in 19:38.7.
West Scranton's Camryn Roche earned an individual berth in Class 3A.
Valley View had three individual qualifiers in Class 2A: Riley Mackrell, Sadie Loftus and Gianna Godino. Wallenpaupack had two in Kelcie Fillebrown and June Brown. Honesdale's Brenna Dahlgren, North Pocono's Sarah O'Donnell and Riverside's Kiley Williams also qualified.
Elk Lake edged Mountain View, 89-92, for the team title in Class 1A. Mountain View's Carissa Flynn was the individual champ in 19:34.9. Also qualifying for states were Lakeland's Emily Black and Morgan Lutz; Montrose's Mary Pichette, Daegan Giannone and Avery Kerr; Forest City's Kate Korty; Blue Ridge's Madeline Naylor; Holy Cross' Julie Walsh.
McCormack led from the start. He wound up finishing 47.9 seconds ahead of second-place Franklin Ritz of Hazleton Area, who finished in 16:38.8.
"That's my style. I like to get out fast, take control of the race, put it in my hands," McCormack said. "It felt rough pushing the first mile, but I knew I needed to get out there. So I got out there and kept through it the whole race."
When he got to the bottom of the final hill that leads to the finish-line chute, McCormack knew he had a shot at the record.
"I had about 25 seconds to get to the end. That's when I kicked it in," he said.
"It means a lot. Coming in as defending champion, everyone is expecting you to repeat. I just threw that all away and went and got the win."
After Scranton and Hazleton Area each had five runners across the finish line, their score was tied. The Cougars wound up winning the tiebreaker because its sixth runner, Damian Vargas finished 31st and Scranton's sixth runner Brady Hopkins was 44th.
"We came into this thinking this was our year," McCormack said. "It hurts to lose this way. But I know my boys pushed as hard as they could. So I can come out of here happy that we ran our best."
Danilovitz won the district title in Class 1A as a sophomore. Riverside moved up to Class 2A last year and he placed second to Lake-Lehman's Nick Hockenbury.
But Wednesday, he pulled away from Dallas' Bryce Phillips at the 1 1/2 -mile mark and won by 24.2 seconds.
"I knew I had to really start pushing it," Danilovitz said. "So along the treeline is where I increased by pace to try to build up that lead.
"My senior year, it's nice to go out with a bang. I'm very happy about that. It's a little bittersweet since I won't be running here again. It's been an honor and a pleasure running here these past four years. I've grown to really love this course. It's really a challenge to see what you've gone through this season with training."
Meanwhile, Scranton Prep put its first four runners in the top 18. Gavin Gallagher was ninth, Colin Comerford 10th, Vincent O'Malley 13th and Ryan Flaim 18th. When Peter Pavuk came across in 23rd, the Cavaliers had the team title.
"We focused so hard on winning this and getting to states," Gallaher said. "It's been a great season for us. Everybody improved. It's great to see what we all can accomplish when we work together and appreciate one another as a family."
Jones led throughout the Class 1A race and won by an eight-second margin over Clarke.
"I wanted to try to get an early lead and press away from anybody behind me," Jones said. I wanted to get up the hills as fast as I could, get to the top and surge and pull away."
Montrose's Nate Sinkovch and Lorenzo Christian finished third and fifth, respectively, to help the Meteors take the team title. But both Montrose coach Dean Brewer and Elk Lake coach Will Squier felt it was the back end of the Meteors' lineup — Nicolo Christian, Carter Dolway, Andrew Chidester — that made the difference.
"It wasn't won off the front. It was won with our 3-4-5," Brewer said. "That was the first time we beat their three, beat their four, beat their five in a race. It just happened to mean that we go to states."
Added Squire: "Hats off to Montrose. Those boys raced well and they raced today. Dolway and Chidester ran better than they've ever ran against us."
Horsley is a standout in the 800 meters in track and field. She used her finishing speed to catch and pass her teammate Pucilowski in the chute about 60 yards from the finish line.
"It wasn't even in my mind to do it until I saw the cones," Horsley said. "It was instinct. That mentality just kicked in.
"Anna does amazing work and has already done amazing things. I'm so grateful to her for helping me. My senior year, I feel like I've been building up. I'm really happy with how today went. It was a cool feeling having my family, coaches and teammates congratulating me afterwards. I'm felt really nice."
Arcangelo was happy for her teammate.
"I knew she was about 40 meters back. She got me with a good kick," she said. "It's all good, we're teammates. Her senior year, that's awesome. And I'm happy for the team. We have a strong team with big goals for states."
Honesdale's Dahlgren was the top-finishing Lackawanna League runner in Class 2A, placing fourth in 19:23.7. Dallas' Madison Hedglin was first, Crestwood's Katie Kozich second and Dallas' Sarah Williams third. Crestwood won the team title with 49 points and Dallas second with 52.
"I really tried to use the downhills back in the woods and coming up the hill I tired a little bit, trying to make some moves," Dahlgren said. "I'm super-happy with the way I ran and the way I went about that race. And I'm happy I get another opportunity to race at states."
Flynn made her move about 1 1/2 miles into the Class 1A race to pull away from Lakeland's Black and Forest City's Korty. She wound up winning by 27.1 seconds over Black.
"I knew I had to take advantage what flat was there at the time," Flynn said. "I knew there was going to be some tough uphills coming up. So I surged a little bit throughout the wooded part and tried to coast throughout the rest of my race."
Her effort and that of her teammates helped the Lady Eagles finish second in the team standings and qualify for states, just getting edged out by Elk Lake.
Lady Warriors senior Sydney Upright said winning the title was a pleasant surprise.
"Coach Squire encouraged us from the get-go that we had a chance," said Upright, who finished 11th. "We didn't think we could win overall and we're happy with the outcome. Going into it we just wanted to do our best and put everything out there on the line."
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