East Marlborough >> West Chester Henderson senior Spencer Smucker, who last fall became only the third runner in the last 30 years to medal at the PIAA Championships as a freshman, sophomore and junior, got off to another good start in the postseason Thursday, finishing first at the Ches-Mont Boys Cross-Country Championships at Unionville High School with a clocking of 16:24, eight seconds ahead of the next runner.
Smucker, the Daily Local News All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year last fall, said, “I started out conservative today, and waited until the last mile to see what everyone else was made of. I moved out on the last mile, but with 800 yards to go I got a little scared, thinking that maybe I moved out too fast, too soon. So I cut back for the last 800, then I let it go again in the last 100 yards.”
Two years ago, Smucker finished third at the Ches-Mont Championships, but didn’t enter the event last fall due to a sprained ankle. That didn’t stop him in the postseason, though, as he finished fourth at districts and 12th at states.
The next three runners behind Smucker Thursday wore Downingtown West uniforms, and the Whippets whipped the opposing squads en route to a first-place finish in the team standings. The Whippets had 33 points, followed by Henderson (120) and West Chester East (121), and were led by the trio of junior Payton Sewall (second place, 16:32), senior Evan Kaiser (third, 16:33) and senior Tyler Rollins (fourth, 16:37).
“We packed up and ran tough,” said Downingtown West coach Scott Burns. “We executed our game plan, put ourselves in great position at the one-mile mark, then ran as a team.”
Last fall, Downingtown West had three of the top 11 finishers at the Ches-Mont Championships, including Kaiser (seventh) and Sewall (11th). This time, Sewall led the Whippets’ runners.
“I stuck with the pack today for the first two miles,” said Sewall. “Once I reached the cornfield about 3/4 mile from the end, I made my move.”
Kaiser paid tribute to the Whippets’ depth, which included junior Isaac Valderrabano (seventh, 16:50), sophomore Ben Datte (17th, 17:07) and junior Joseph Chamoun (18th, 17:08).
“I made sure I stuck with Tyler and Payton [today],” said Kaiser. “We always have strong [top five] runners.”
Rollins finished just four seconds behind Kaiser. Rollins, who led the field during the first mile Thursday, placed 11th at the Paul Short Invitational (High School Boys Brown division) Sept. 29.
Rounding out the top 10 individual runners were West Chester East sophomore Joshua Lewin (fifth, 16:39), Avon Grove senior Noah Dusseau (sixth, 16:41), Valderrabano (seventh, 16:50), Oxford freshman Gavin Fitzgerald (eighth, 16:54), Bishop Shanahan senior Jonathan McGrory (ninth, 16:54) and West Chester Henderson junior Calvin Pash (16:56).
1. Downingtown West 33; 2. West Chester Henderson 120; 3. West Chester East 121; 4. Oxford 133; 5. Bishop Shanahan 142; 6. Great Valley 143; 7. Unionville 169; 8. Downingtown East 181; 9. Avon Grove 192; 10. West Chester Rustin 219; 11. Kennett 244; 12. Sun Valley 353; 13. Octorara 363.
1. Spencer Smucker, West Chester Henderson, 16:24; 2. Payton Sewall, Downingtown West, 16:32; 3. Evan Kaiser, Downingtown West, 16:33; 4. Tyler Rollins, Downingtown West, 16:37; 5. Joshua Lewin, West Chester East, 16:39; 6. Noah Dusseau, Avon Grove, 16:41; 7. Isaac Valderrabano, Downingtown West, 16:50; 8. Gavin Fitzgerald, Oxford, 16:54; 9. Jonathan McGrory, Bishop Shanahan, 16:54; 10. Calvin Pash, West Chester Henderson, 16:56; 11. Gavin Maxwell, Kennett, 16:57; 12. Brett Zatlin, Great Valley, 17:00; 13. Jack Mangan, Unionville, 17:01; 14. Joseph Mazza, West Chester East, 17:05; 15. Evan Campbell, Oxford, 17:05.
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