Cross Country team finds success in many different ways


Shaler Area Cross Country runners

Matt Purucker

The 2022 cross country season came to a close on October 27 with the Titans competing at the WPIAL Cross Country Championships. Despite the rain, the team persevered just like they did throughout the whole year.

In the words of the head coach Mr. Shawn Ryan, they were a “small but mighty group.” Having only seven girls and three boys, the ten athletes developed a close bond that grew stronger as the season progressed. However, because of the low numbers on the boys team, the Titans were not able to field a complete five-man team needed to place at meets.

For having such a small group, The Titans were especially successful at the Bald Eagle Invitational where their dedication was rewarded.

“We were able to run our team in the JV race, both boys and girls; we came out with some successes. We had kids get up on the medal stand. Even one of our junior athletes, Cheyenne Sahr, took first in the girls race,” Ryan said. “So, it was a pretty good accomplishment as a whole because I think you never saw a better opportunity where the team bonded with one another and just enjoyed the day in itself.”

Despite those achievements, the team suffered setbacks when it lost three of its ten members to injury. Harrison Repko, a senior, was extremely disappointed that a foot injury ended his final season before it had even started. That dropped the boys team from three to two runners.

JM Weber photography

“Everybody’s injured in cross country. When you run that many miles, it’s bound to happen. It knocked Cheyenne out, who is one of our best runners for sure. And usually it’s more shins, knees, ankles, and if those hurt a lot, you can’t really run,” junior Joey Duty said.

Those injuries, however, did not harm the Titans’ morale. The idea of getting better each and every meet was the driving force behind the team’s success this year. That sentiment inspired the message Coach Ryan gave his team before the WPIAL Championships.

“The last week of practice I asked the kids what their goals were going into the WPIAL Championship, and the consensus was to do better from the week before because we ran on the same course two weeks in a row,” Ryan said. “A lot of the successes come from such an objective-based mentality. So, I couldn’t compliment that any better when the kids came out determined this past Thursday [October 27th] to achieve those accomplishments.”

At the end of the season, the team found that while chasing medals and trophies was a noble pursuit, building relationships with teammates was a great byproduct of the year as well. The cross country team created a welcoming environment and a sense of community.

“If you have any thoughts about joining cross country, please join,” Duty said. “We need people; we don’t have enough people to place. The people are pretty chill.”