Shore’s Davis PIAA cross country champ
BY BARB KROHN
For The Sun Gazette
HERSHEY — If not for a fateful decision his sophomore year, Jersey Shore senior Isaac Davis would have been playing football against Selinsgrove Friday night. Many of his friends were on that Bulldogs team.
But after competing in both football and cross country his freshman year, Davis, the son of Shore’s assistant football coach Chris Davis, decided to focus on cross country.
And though that meant giving up the hype of Friday Night Lights, his dedication to the sport other teams use for punishment paid off big time Saturday at the PIAA cross country championships when Davis came away with the state Class AA gold medal.
Loyalsock’s Quinn Serfass finished fourth, Ryan Sullivan medaled with 25th place and the Lancers as a team took sixth place. On the girls side Loyalsock junior Isabel Sagar took ninth in the Class AA girls race and Warrior Run freshman Lauren Trapani placed second in Class A.
“There are no words to describe how excited I am,” said Davis, a Penn State-bound runner. “It’s just unbelievable.”
In truth Davis ran away with the race winning in 15:56 and beating York Suburban’s Bryce Ohl by 18 seconds.
The state champion had moved to the front of the pack by the big turn on the Hershey Park course there were just a couple of runners ahead of him, and Davis soon lost them.
“It was just me and South Fayette’s Sam Snodgreass after that,” said Davis.
But by mile two, Snodgrass had dropped to 11th and the closest runner to the Shore standout was 23 seconds behind.
“It’s always me against the clock, but I have to stay focused,” said Davis.
With no one in a position to challenge, Davis made it up the legendary “poop-out” hill and turned the corner for the finish line.
“I started then to know I would be the state champion,” he said.
And –well — in a gesture perhaps learned on the gridiron, he ran the final crowd-lined meters lifting his arms up to get the crowd going.
“I egged on the crowd to cheer. I wanted the motivation to finish strong.”
For Davis it was a season gone right — exactly right.
“I’m in the best shape of my high school career and this whole season has been leading up to this,” said Davis. “I’m happy. I can say I’m a state champion.”
His father said he made the right choice.
“I’m very proud of my son. He put his whole heart and mind into this.”
Serfass and Loyalsock boys
Serfass’ ideal Saturday was to challenge Davis for the win or at the very least claim the silver medal.
In 10th place after the first mile, he moved up to sixth by the second, thoroughly enjoying the company he was in.
“We were in a pack and I’m thinking this is this person I see (on a state cross country web site), this is another. It was really cool.”
Serfass attacked the final hill coming out in his desired second place, but then had no more to give.
“When I turned the (final) corner I couldn’t keep up the speed,” he said. “I didn’t have anything left to give.”
Given that, Serfass was pretty happy with his fourth place.
“I’ll take it.”
Sullivan had his work cut out for him Saturday on what is the extremely hilly and challenging state course.
“I’m not a good hill runner,” he admitted. “But I tried to go hard and stay with the front people.
“On the final hill I tried to stay where I was and not let anyone pass.”
Sullivan was most happy with his team’s high finish.
“That’s awesome,” he said. “I’m really happy.”
No one though could have been more proud of her team that Loyalsock coach Nicole Reed who took four years ago took a meager program with six participants and came away Saturday with two boys medalists, a girls medalist and a team finish she could not have dreamed of.
“We are sixth in the state,” she said. “I’m pretty emotional about this.
“We came from five girls and one boys to sixth in the state.
“These kids are just the cream of the crop – both athletically and scholastically.”
Sagar and Trapani
Of course Reed’s pride did not just extend to her boys team.
“(Sagar) went from Class A to Class AA and bettered her time (from last year) by over a minute.
“I’m just really proud of her. She’s a tough runner. She’s a tough kid.”
And one very happy runner at the conclusion of her race.
“This is – oh wow – overwhelming,” said Sagar. “There’s a lot of talent in AA.”
Key to the race was finding a runner – Rebecca Snyder from Oley Valley – who she could use to help pace herself.
“I thought if I could stick with her she would push me. We ran (within two seconds of each other) at Lehigh Valley.”
Snyder finished seventh but Sagar was not disappointed.
“It feels good. Last year (where she finished 17th in Class A) I had no experience with the course and didn’t really know how tough it was.
“I have so much respect for it now.”
Trapani led the first two miles of the Class A race but in the end four-time Class A champion Tina Capparell was waiting to make her move and did so at the very end.
Trapani’s took second in 19:09.
Though the frosh standout no doubt had pressure which her coach Corey Dufrene said, “She puts on herself. She is a very competitive kid.”
“I wanted to be a good representative of my team and my school,” said Trapani.
And she admitted that she was, “a little disappointed” not to have a gold medal around her neck but said her main objective was met.
“I’m real happy to come here and medal.”
Her team, mostly composed of freshmen, took fifth place.
“We can come back and do better,” said Trapani.