Pietroburgo, Carpenter lead Indians to second again
Saving their best race of the season for last, Colville High School’s boy’s cross-country team ran its way to second place at the Washington State Championship Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
In what have must have felt like déjà vu, the local harriers, led by senior Biagio Pietroburgo’s fifth place and Kevin Carpenter’s 8th place finish, annexed the runner-up spot behind Northeast A League rival Lakeside. It was Colville’s second straight runner-up finish at Pasco.
As the Indians left town Friday morning, CHS knew they would be chasing La Center, Charles Wright Academy, Kings and most notably, NEA League rival and arch-nemesis, Lakeside. Colville’s goal was to run the best race of the season and hope they could catch up with the competition at the finish line.
Despite a rollercoaster season that had the Indians ranked as high as second in Class 1A cross-country polls, and as low as sixth, the team was optimistic about their chances at this year’s classic clash of cross-country powers.
Another great season for Dean Fischer’s boys
“We started the season under the radar,” conceded CHS head coach Dean Fischer. “Most everyone thought we had lost a step and would fade quietly into the scoring sheets as an also-ran. However, over the past 10 weeks, we found our stride, and on occasion, we showed moments of running brilliance.”
It was Colville’s Pietroburgo, running his second stellar race in as many weeks, who helped key the surge. Having annexed the Bi-District Regional title by just one second over Lakeside’s Michael Anderson just seven days earlier, Pietroburgo took no chances on Saturday’s date with the podium.
“Biagio ran the best race of his life,” Fischer said. “His tactical approach, like last weekend, was flawless.” Fischer was referring to Pietroburgo’s reserved start and steady pace over the undulating five-kilometer Pasco course.
In his third appearance at the Washington State Championship at Sun Willows, Pietroburgo managed to sidestep some of the mistakes made in 2009 and 2010. In his two previous State runs, the young harrier went out fast and tried to hang his spikes on the heels of the leaders. That tactic proved less than ideal, as he faded in the second half of both those races, finishing 55th and 17th.
On Saturday, the experience of a seasoned senior proved invaluable. Leaving the starting line, Pietroburgo’s confidence was intact and he successfully resisted the urge to chase eventual 1A state champion Hap Emmons of Kings. Instead, Pietroburgo held back, running comfortably in tenth place at the mile, just ahead of his teammate, Kevin Carpenter.
Rumbling over the first mile in thirteenth place, Carpenter had set his sights on Lakeside’s Coffman. From the gun, Carpenter appeared content to let Coffman set the pace.
A plan—a mission
Reviewing Carpenter’s run, Coach Fischer said “Kevin had a plan. He has wanted Coffman all year, but has consistently missed him by a few seconds in each of their four previous match-ups. Each time there seemed to be some reason that Coffman won. However, today you could feel it, there was potential for an upset. Kevin was on a mission.”
At the milepost, Colville was, according to Coach Fischer “… in great position.”
Pulling up to the mile marker, chasing Carpenter were a pair of Indians, Roman “The Rocket” Korovnik and Dylan “Shark Man” Schanz. Both harriers were right where Coach Fischer had hoped. Korovnik was looking strong, running in the top30, while Schanz was just a bit further back, but still within striking distance of his race goal.
In a surprise, checking in next for the Indians was the duo of Jay Shoemaker and Ethan Cabbage, running fifth and sixth respectively. Meanwhile, Chris Lane, at three seconds back, rounded out the Indians first mile. All three runners were within the top 70 and appeared comfortable and ready to move up later in the race.
However, remembering the distance runner’s rule No. 1, The Race Is Never Won at The Start, or at the first mile, Coach Fischer, and his staff, remained cautious.
“The guys understand and respect that you have to run 3.1 miles and believe that those who are patient will prevail,” Fischer explained. “We were very patient today.”
At the 15-minute mark, King’s Hap Emmons had built an insurmountable lead over the Charles Wright Academy duo of David Goldstone and Ruben Riordan. Just off the leaders’ pace was Onalaska’s Steven Bottoms, holder of the fastest 1A time in Washington this season. Chasing Bottoms over the rolling fairways of Sun Willows was Colville’s Pietroburgo.
What happened next in the Colville camp was, in the words of the entire Colville coaching staff, ‘Flippin’ unbelievable!”
With 600 meters left in the race, Carpenter, who had spent the last 14 ½ minutes riding the shoulder of Lakeside’s Coffman, took off up the final hill in a charge that left the Lakeside star unable to respond.
Carpenter’s late surge propelled the talented soph to his first win over another sophomore from Lakeside for the first time this season. More importantly, the finish propelled Carpenter onto the podium in eighth place
Coffman finished 10th.
After the race, a breathless Carpenter said simply, “I just went…it feels great!”
Running third, Colville’s Roman Korovnik turned in a break-out race. The junior finished in 32nd place (17:10).
Following Korovnik across the finish line was fellow junior, Dylan Schanz. One of the top swimmers in the Northwest posted a new personal best of 17:35, good for 54th.
Schanz’s finish was key for Colville.
“Dylan is a terrific young man,” Fischer said. We are expecting great things from Dylan just around the corner. He is a quiet leader and is a highly conditioned athlete. While swimming remains his passion, running is certainly something he also excels at.”
The surprise of the day, according to coach Fischer, was Ethan Cabbage’s 61st place finish (17:39).
After a season relegated to running mostly junior varsity races, Cabbage, a standout on the CHS track and field team, chose the state championship to drop his best 5K time by over one-minute.
“Ethan ran the race of his life,” Fischer said. You don’t just drop a minute like that. I am just a little stunned. This is a tough course.”
Cabbage’s performance left Fischer and the rest of the CHS coaching staff shaking their heads.
Completing Colville’s 2011 state run were Chris Lane (17:45) and Jay Shoemaker (17:48). Like everyone else, both runners established PRs. Shoemaker completed his first cross-country season by establishing a new personal record by 20 seconds.
CHS loses four seniors to graduation of a second straight Class 1A runner-up.
“I remember when Chris (Lane) and Biagio (PIetroburgo) first showed up at practice as freshmen,” Fischer recalled. “There was Chris, this incredibly smart kid. However, he was short, I mean short on speed and endurance. He kind of spent two years in a static state, only getting marginally faster. Then, during the summer of 2009, he dedicated himself to running. He must have grown six inches that summer…he caught fire and made varsity. Chris hasn’t looked back and is proof that commitment and training pay off.
“As for Ethan (Cabbage), I see a kid with huge potential who was hampered by injury throughout his high school cross-country career. He is an extremely gifted young man, both academically and athletically. His future looks very bright.”
Then there is Pietroburgo, who came into the program with immense talent and a free-spirited approach. Nothing has changed there.
Spikes in the tree
“I remember one of Biagio’s first runs at Bear Lake,” Fischer said. “When the bus was about to leave, we noticed Biagio throwing rocks and sticks into a pine tree.
“As we (coaches) got closer, we could see his new spikes hanging from a limb, maybe 25-feet up. As the team left the parking lot, I still remember Biagio and his less than happy mother (Kim), trying to figure out how they were going to get those spikes out of that tree. The next day he was at practice with those spikes.”
The CHS girl’s team will also miss senior stalwart Alison Price.
“Ally is a special young woman,” Fischer said. “From day one, she seemed to know why she wanted to run and what she wanted to do as a runner. She has always been a positive leader and an insightful teammate. Sometimes, I wondered who the coach was. We will certainly miss her and her insight into running and life as a teenager.”
Earlier in the morning, Colville’s female contingent of Alison Price and Jill Fenno stood at the starting line alongside meet favorites and NEA rivals Lakeside and Riverside. The crowded field of 143 was shaping up to be both challenging and memorable.
Price, making her third consecutive State appearance, was intent on improving upon her previous State best 20:38. Meanwhile, Fenno was debuting her considerable running talent at Pasco.
After a half hour frost delay, the 1A girls got underway at 11 a.m. Under clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s, Price went out with the lead pack over the first mile, while Fenno ran in the middle of the crowded field. Both girls appeared comfortable and content with their positions at the mile.
At the 2.5 mile mark, both Price and Fenno were maintaining their positions, with Price holding on to 20th place, but showing some signs of fatigue as Fenno was in the early stages of mounting a move through a line of runners amassed ahead. As Fenno reached the crest of the final hill, with 400 meters to go, she surged past two runners, resulting in a surprising 21:57, and wrapping up 79th place. As for Price, she obliterated her previous best time with a new personal State Championship course time of 20:16, locking down 22nd place. Both girls’ finishes were good enough to put smiles on the faces of the exhausted duo.
“The girls were outstanding today,” Fischer said. “It is tough to run without your team. Both Alison and Jill had great races. They remained focused and I think they remembered to enjoy the State experience. Alison, with three trips to Pasco, has certainly earned her place among the finest cross-country girls to run at CHS, while Jill has one more year to make her mark on the record books.
Four straight titles for Meyers
“Jill is among the hardest workers I have ever coached. She has come from the back of the pack to a place where she is a factor in every race. Our team philosophy is, ‘Miles Make Champions,’ and Alison and Jill certainly epitomize putting that philosophy into action with their hard work and dedication.”
The 2011 girl’s 1A race marked the first time in Washington State cross- country history that a single competitor, Mattie Meyers, of Northwest, would run away with four consecutive individual championships. Meyers cruised to an easy 43-second win over her freshman teammate, Hazel Carr, and Riverside’s Jess Mildes.
In the girl’s team results, it was Lakeside scoring 59 points to power past the Riverside Rams 86.
AT A GLANCE
The second place finish by the CHS boys marked the sixth time in eight years that Colville has moved either one or both of its teams to the state tournament in Pasco. During that time, Colville has recorded the following finishes: 204, boys 5th and girls 6th; 2005, boys state championship and girls 8th; 2007, boys 3rd; 2009, boys 7th; 2010, boys 2nd; 2011, boys 2nd.
During that span, the Indians have placed 10 individuals on the podium 14 times with one state champion (Justin Rose).
Several Colville runners also garnered post-season honors. Pietroburgo was 2011 NEA cross-country MVP and first team. Carpenter was also an NEA first team selection. Korovnik and Schanz were second team selections.
1st, Lakeside, 79. 2nd, Colville 108. 3rd, King’s 123. 4th, Charles Wright, 167. 5th, Lynden Christian, 195. 6th, Omak, 222. 7th, Montesano, 224. 8th, LaCenter, 224. 9. Cashmere, 226. 10th, Meridian, 241.
1st, Lakeside, 59. 2nd, Riverside, 86. 3rd. Northwest, 92. 4th. King’s, 118. 5th. Cashmere, 131. 6th. Cedar Park Christian, 163. 7th, Nooksack Valley, 218. 8th, Lyden Christian, 235. 9th. Montesano, 245. 10th. Meridian, 247.
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