Dallas boys capture PIAA Class 2A cross country crown


Dallas boys win PIAA team title without top finisher

By Paul Sokoloski - psokoloski@timesleader.com



The runners who delivered the first PIAA boys championship in Dallas history share a moment together before picking up their gold medals in an awards ceremony Saturday in Hershey. From left to right are the school’s Class 2A team title members Stephen Postupak, Josh Jarden, Adam Borton, individual medalist Jack Zardecki, Jason Culp, Robert Martin, Josh Wendt and Mitchell Rome.


Wyoming Seminary’s Eamon Gibbons crossed the bridge entering the hill complex at Hershey’s Parkview Cross Country Course in the Class A race on Saturday.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Coughlin’s state medalist Franklin Balbuena races in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on his way to a 14th-place finish on Saturday in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Hazleton’s Franklin Cunningham (1285) and Matt Houser (1286) run in the PIAA Class 3A race in Hershey on Saturday.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Berwick’s Ty Fisher competes in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Tunkhannock’s Jacob Toczko leads a group of runners around a turn in the Class 2A race on Saturday in Hershey. Toczko finished 11th to grab a Class 2A state medal in the boys race in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Dallas' Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Hazelton Area's Kiera Feeley competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Dallas' Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Dallas' Grace Jarden competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Dallas' Maxine Derome competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Hazelton Area's Stephanie Yanochko competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

Hazleton Area's Katie Johnson competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.


Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader


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    WVC’s PIAA Cross Country finishers

    Class A

    Boys

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tim Snyder`Meyers`Sr`123`18:31

    Eamon Gibbons`Wyoming Sem`Jr`166`19:11

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tara Kupsky`Wyoming Sem`So`71`21:32

    Paige Kupsky`Wyoming Sem`Sr`86`21:45

    Ava Baur`Wyoming Sem`Fr`154`23:03

    Class 2A

    Boys

    x-Dominic Hockenbury`Lake-Lehman`Sr`1`15.49

    z-Jacob Toczko`Tunkhannock`Sr`11`16:29

    z-Franco Balbuena`Coughlin`Sr`14`16:36

    y,z-Jack Zardecki`Dallas`So`25`16:53

    y-Adam Barton`Dallas`So`28`16:58

    y-Jason Culp`Dallas`Jr`36`17:06

    Ty Fisher`Berwick`Jr`48`17:18

    y-Stephen Postupak`Dallas`Fr`64`17:35

    y-Mitchell Rome`Dallas`Fr`73`17:40

    Beau Blass`Berwick`Sr`77`17:42

    Mason Kimbell`Berwick`Jr`95`17:51

    Chris Sabol`Lake-Lehman`Sr`96`17:52

    Mitchell Martin`Berwick`So`114`18:01

    Bao Le`Berwick`So`115`18:01

    y-Robert Martin`Dallas`Sr`121`18:05

    y-Josh Jarden`Dallas`So`170`18:35

    Ben White`Berwick`Jr`202`19:20

    Griffin Keller`Berwick`Fr`206`19:42

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    x-Ally Rome`Dallas`Sr`1`18:30

    z-Rebecca Balara`Dallas`So`21`19:40

    Jade Fry`Lake-Lehman`So`40`20:16

    Lyndsey Williams`Holy Redeemer`So`42`20:18

    Riley Oremus`Dallas`Jr`113`21:24

    Katie Grose`Dallas`Sr`151`22:00

    Grace Jarden`Dallas`Fr`153`22:04

    Sam Dyer`Berwick`Jr`165`22:18

    Maxine Derome`Dallas`Jr`174`22:33

    Samantha Sarokin`Dallas`So`190`23:35

    Class 3A

    Boys

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Matt Houser`Hazleton Area`Sr`163`17:36

    Franklin Cunningham1Hazleton Area`So`197`17:57

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tara Johnson`Pittston Area`Sr`74`20:01

    Mary Everdale`Hazleton Area`Jr`169`21:22

    Stephanie Yanochko`Hazleton Area`So`197`22:10

    Katie Johnson`Hazleton Area`Sr`198`22:18

    Kiera Feeley`Hazleton Area`So`204`22:30

    Sarah Meyers`Hazleton Area`Fr`212`23:04

    Hope Little`Hazleton Area`So`220`23:32

    x-state individual champion

    y-state team champion

    z-state medalist

    HERSHEY — They say there’s strength in numbers.

    And when a group of over-achieving Dallas boys banded together, they turned out to be No. 1.

    For the first time in school history, Dallas captured a cross country state crown Saturday by finishing with a score of 96 total places to capture the Class 2A overall team crown at the Parkview Cross Country Course.

    “You know, these guys went all season dealing with some injuries, some really traumatic stuff,” said an emotional Dallas coach Matt Samuel. “You never win it easy.

    “Nothing good is ever easy.”

    But this PIAA championship seemed especially difficult to attain.

    Dallas did it without star power – or even a front-line finisher.

    Sophomore Jack Zardecki turned out to be the team’s only individual state medal winner – and he grabbed the 25th and final spot on the awards stand in the Class 2A field.

    “I got the last medal,” Zardecki said. “This is my first time (on the awards stand). Last year, I finished 40th. I’m going home with two state medals,which is an awesome feeling.”

    Other Wyoming Valley Conference schools had splashier finishes.

    Tunkhannock’s Jacob Toczko placed 11th in the Class 2A boys field with a time of 16:29 and Coughlin’s Franco Balbuena was right behind him at 14th with a time of 16:36. In the girls Class 2A state race, Dallas’ Rebecca Balara earned the No. 21 spot with a time of 19:40.

    And, of course, Lake-Lehman’s Dominic Hockenbury and Dallas’ Ally Rome won their second straight state titles in the Class 2A boys and girls races, respectively.

    But none of them got the chance to celebrate a state title through teamwork.

    Zardecki, Adam Borton, Jason Culp, Stephen Postupak, Mitchell Rome (Ally’s brother), Robert Martin and Josh Jarden did.

    They turned out to be the “Super 7” who spearheaded the march to the first-ever state gold medal for the Dallas boys.

    “The individual stuff doesn’t matter,” Samuel said, explaining what it takes to claim a PIAA team title. “It matters that you do your best as an individual for our team to do well.”

    Actually, Dallas entered the day thinking about being second-best.

    “We were going to shoot for runner-up,” Zardecki said. “We didn’t think we had a chance. It was a long-shot.”

    His reasoning was simple.

    “We came down for pre-states earlier,” Zardecki said. “York Suburban beat us by about 20 points. We figured they were going to be much, much better here. We figured it was going to be too much to make up.”

    But the Mountaineers made their move by bunching strong finishes together. They placed five finishers among the state’s top 73 overall and, more importantly, wound up with five Top-35 finishers among the 19 teams that were eligible to run a full lineup at states.

    Zardecki placed seventh in the team field, Borton finished ninth, Culp was 15th, followed by Postupak at 31st and Rome at 34th. Those five finishes gave Dallas an accumulation of 96 points, while Martin came in at 56th and Jarden at 90th to back them up.

    “The strength of the wolf is in the pack,” Samuel said. “That’s what our guys buy into. They know they need to be close with one another.”

    Now, they’ll have a memory to share forever.

    And it’ll remain especially vivid to Samuel, the team’s long-time and highly successful coach who finally found the boys state title he’s been searching for.

    The closest Dallas came to winning one before Saturday was in 1988, when Samuel’s brother competed on a Dallas team that finished with a PIAA silver medal.

    Now Matt Samuel and the Mountaineers have their golden moment in the sun.

    “This has been a trying time for me and my family,” Samuel said. “I lost my father this summer. It’s a family thing for all of us. But it’s not about me, it’s about all of us. It’s about having a great team and a great program. The boys, they become an institution. That’s their victory. I’m extremely proud of them.

    “That was a gift to me.”

    The runners who delivered the first PIAA boys championship in Dallas history share a moment together before picking up their gold medals in an awards ceremony Saturday in Hershey. From left to right are the school’s Class 2A team title members Stephen Postupak, Josh Jarden, Adam Borton, individual medalist Jack Zardecki, Jason Culp, Robert Martin, Josh Wendt and Mitchell Rome.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Dallas-Champs-XC1.jpgThe runners who delivered the first PIAA boys championship in Dallas history share a moment together before picking up their gold medals in an awards ceremony Saturday in Hershey. From left to right are the school’s Class 2A team title members Stephen Postupak, Josh Jarden, Adam Borton, individual medalist Jack Zardecki, Jason Culp, Robert Martin, Josh Wendt and Mitchell Rome.

    Wyoming Seminary’s Eamon Gibbons crossed the bridge entering the hill complex at Hershey’s Parkview Cross Country Course in the Class A race on Saturday.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Eamon-Gibbons1.jpgWyoming Seminary’s Eamon Gibbons crossed the bridge entering the hill complex at Hershey’s Parkview Cross Country Course in the Class A race on Saturday. Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Coughlin’s state medalist Franklin Balbuena races in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on his way to a 14th-place finish on Saturday in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Franklin-Balbuena1.jpgCoughlin’s state medalist Franklin Balbuena races in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on his way to a 14th-place finish on Saturday in Hershey. Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Hazleton’s Franklin Cunningham (1285) and Matt Houser (1286) run in the PIAA Class 3A race in Hershey on Saturday.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Cunningham-and-Houser1.jpgHazleton’s Franklin Cunningham (1285) and Matt Houser (1286) run in the PIAA Class 3A race in Hershey on Saturday. Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Berwick’s Ty Fisher competes in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Ty-Fisher1.jpgBerwick’s Ty Fisher competes in the PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Hershey. Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Tunkhannock’s Jacob Toczko leads a group of runners around a turn in the Class 2A race on Saturday in Hershey. Toczko finished 11th to grab a Class 2A state medal in the boys race in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_Jacob-Toczko1.jpgTunkhannock’s Jacob Toczko leads a group of runners around a turn in the Class 2A race on Saturday in Hershey. Toczko finished 11th to grab a Class 2A state medal in the boys race in Hershey. Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Dallas’ Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc1.jpgDallas’ Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Hazelton Area’s Kiera Feeley competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc10.jpgHazelton Area’s Kiera Feeley competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Dallas’ Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc5.jpgDallas’ Rebecca Balara competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Dallas’ Grace Jarden competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc6.jpgDallas’ Grace Jarden competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Dallas’ Maxine Derome competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc7.jpgDallas’ Maxine Derome competes during the PIAA Class AA girls cross country championships Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Hazelton Area’s Stephanie Yanochko competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc8.jpgHazelton Area’s Stephanie Yanochko competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader

    Hazleton Area’s Katie Johnson competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_xc9.jpgHazleton Area’s Katie Johnson competes Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 during the PIAA Class AA cross country championships in Hershey.Peter Hardenstine | For Times Leader
    Dallas boys win PIAA team title without top finisher

    By Paul Sokoloski

    psokoloski@timesleader.com

    WVC’s PIAA Cross Country finishers

    Class A

    Boys

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tim Snyder`Meyers`Sr`123`18:31

    Eamon Gibbons`Wyoming Sem`Jr`166`19:11

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tara Kupsky`Wyoming Sem`So`71`21:32

    Paige Kupsky`Wyoming Sem`Sr`86`21:45

    Ava Baur`Wyoming Sem`Fr`154`23:03

    Class 2A

    Boys

    x-Dominic Hockenbury`Lake-Lehman`Sr`1`15.49

    z-Jacob Toczko`Tunkhannock`Sr`11`16:29

    z-Franco Balbuena`Coughlin`Sr`14`16:36

    y,z-Jack Zardecki`Dallas`So`25`16:53

    y-Adam Barton`Dallas`So`28`16:58

    y-Jason Culp`Dallas`Jr`36`17:06

    Ty Fisher`Berwick`Jr`48`17:18

    y-Stephen Postupak`Dallas`Fr`64`17:35

    y-Mitchell Rome`Dallas`Fr`73`17:40

    Beau Blass`Berwick`Sr`77`17:42

    Mason Kimbell`Berwick`Jr`95`17:51

    Chris Sabol`Lake-Lehman`Sr`96`17:52

    Mitchell Martin`Berwick`So`114`18:01

    Bao Le`Berwick`So`115`18:01

    y-Robert Martin`Dallas`Sr`121`18:05

    y-Josh Jarden`Dallas`So`170`18:35

    Ben White`Berwick`Jr`202`19:20

    Griffin Keller`Berwick`Fr`206`19:42

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    x-Ally Rome`Dallas`Sr`1`18:30

    z-Rebecca Balara`Dallas`So`21`19:40

    Jade Fry`Lake-Lehman`So`40`20:16

    Lyndsey Williams`Holy Redeemer`So`42`20:18

    Riley Oremus`Dallas`Jr`113`21:24

    Katie Grose`Dallas`Sr`151`22:00

    Grace Jarden`Dallas`Fr`153`22:04

    Sam Dyer`Berwick`Jr`165`22:18

    Maxine Derome`Dallas`Jr`174`22:33

    Samantha Sarokin`Dallas`So`190`23:35

    Class 3A

    Boys

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Matt Houser`Hazleton Area`Sr`163`17:36

    Franklin Cunningham1Hazleton Area`So`197`17:57

    Girls

    Name`School`Grade`Place`Time

    Tara Johnson`Pittston Area`Sr`74`20:01

    Mary Everdale`Hazleton Area`Jr`169`21:22

    Stephanie Yanochko`Hazleton Area`So`197`22:10

    Katie Johnson`Hazleton Area`Sr`198`22:18

    Kiera Feeley`Hazleton Area`So`204`22:30

    Sarah Meyers`Hazleton Area`Fr`212`23:04

    Hope Little`Hazleton Area`So`220`23:32

    x-state individual champion

    y-state team champion

    z-state medalist

    Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski

    Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski

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