HERSHEY - When Jersey Shore's Cody Allen finally sits down and writes a letter to his former teammate Ben Copenhaver, he will have some good news to share.
Allen became the first Jersey Shore cross country runner to earn a state medal at the PIAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday after placing 18th in the boys Class AA race.
"I actually used Ben Copenhaver as my inspiration," Allen said. "He came here and just missed placing, so I've had him to think about and that helped push me more and to come here and do better and place."
Copenhaver, a 2011 Jersey Shore graduate, nearly broke the Bulldogs' medal drought in 2010 when he placed 29th in the boys Class AAA race. Cross country was broken down into just two classifications up until last season when a Class A division was added. Twenty-five runners medal at the state meet and Copenhaver was just 12 seconds shy of cracking the Top 25.
Copenhaver will be glad to hear the good news. Through his mother, he wished Allen good luck before yesterday's race.
"It meant a lot to hear that from him because he pushed me at that point and time when I was young and I think that was a good thing for me to see what I needed to do and how I could do it to progress. I appreciated that."
Allen, fourth at the District 4 meet at Bloomsburg University, was the second District 4 runner to finish on Saturday. Only district champion Simon Smith of Towanda placed higher. He was 13th.
Dominic Deluca of Dallas won the race in 16:21. Smith finished in 16:55 and Allen in 17:04.
"I was very happy with that time," said Allen, who spent Friday attempting to calm his nerves by watching the Jersey Shore doubles team compete in states at the Hershey Racquet Club.
Allen benefited from a good start and said he never fell outside the Top 25. At the mile mark, he began counting runners ahead of him and had himself in 18th place. Knowing that he was in medal contention after his 4:53 first mile kept his legs turning and helped him keep pace on the challenging hill section of the 3.1-mile course before sprinting to the finish.
"It feels really good to medal," said Allen, who will prepare for the spring track season by swimming and running a couple indoor track meets this winter. "I came into today a little nervous after seeing all these kids here, but then I just cleared my mind and did what I had to do."
The race concluded with 226 finishers.