By: Chris Manning | | October 16, 2021 | Photo courtesy Chris Manning


ROME — It couldn’t have been a better day for Athens runners at the NTL Coaches’ Invitational. The boys won the team title, avenging their dual meet loss to CV earlier this week, while the Bronson sisters took first and third in the girls’ race.

The Wildcat boys had four in the top 12, and five in the top 20. They finished with 49 points, outpacing second-place Wyalusing (63) by 14 places. The Rams edged CV (63) for second place via tie-breaker.

On Tuesday, CV was able to go 1-2-3 on Athens, but on Saturday, the Wildcats’ Matt Gorsline (18:01.8) and Kyle Anthony (18:08.60) broke up that pack, getting ahead of CV’s third runner, Nathaniel Welch (18:13.6), to take sixth and seventh overall.

“I knew I had to get that number three Cow Val kid,” said Gorsline. “Kyle’s been struggling with an injury, and, he’s been struggling to get back to where he was, and today he executed really well, so I’m hoping he’s starting to feel better going into districts.”

Ethan Denlinger (18:24.6) finished in the top 10 at ninth, while Carter Lewis (18:39.2) was 11th, and Isaac Hobday (19:43) took 20th.

Nate Prickitt (19:58.2) finished 24th, and Sander Bertsch (21:07.3) was 38th to round out their top seven.

They had the tightest split of any team at the meet, just 1:41 between 1-through-5, and 40 seconds between 1-through-4.

While it was more than enough to claim the Invitational title, they’ll need to keep working if they want to do well at districts. The defending state champions for Class AA, Lewisburg, are in District IV, while Danville will also be a formidable opponent.

“We’re going to be hitting some tough workouts,” said Gorsline. “Really just prepping for it. We know where in the pack we need to be. Hopefully, three of us will work together - Ethan, Kyle, and I.”

In the girls’ race, freshman Wildcat Sara Bronson (21:01.3) cruised to the win, besting runner-up Alyssa Parks of Troy (21:40.3) by nearly 40 seconds.

“It was a pretty competitive race, which is good,” said Sara. “I’m pretty happy with how I ran. It’s nice being able to train with great teammates who help, and great coaches really help too.”

Her sister, Emma Bronson (21:57.6), took third overall coming off an injury. She missed Tuesday’s dual meet race at NEB.

“I felt pretty good,” said Emma. “It felt good to run again.”

This is the first time the two have been teammates, and they’re enjoying the extra time they’re spending together.

“It’s awesome being able to run with her,” Emma remarked.

Emma won the NTL Invitational last year, while Sara took second in the junior high race a year ago.

“It’s really nice being able to train together, and push each other, because we run so well,” said Sara.

Fellow Wildcat Thea Bentley (24:29.7) finished 20th as Athens was third as a team with 102 points. Troy (57) and Wyalusing (62) took first and second, while the Wildcats edged NEB (112).

Emily Henderson (26:40.5) finished 36th, and Caitlyn Conklin (27:53.7) took 48th to round out their top five.

For Sayre, Corey Ault (26:55.5) took 39th in the girls’ race, while in the boys’ race Braylon DeKay (23:31.9) finished 59th, and Andrew Panek (31:02.9) was 79th.

In the junior high boys race, Athens (38) was edged out by Troy (35) for the team title. Graham Wanck (10:29.7) and Eli Hicks (10:45.5) took second and fourth, respectively, for the Wildcats.

On the girls’ side Addison Bruns (12:26.40) came in fifth for the Wildcats, who were third overall with 70 points. Sayre’s Mackenzie Chamberlain (12:42) finished seventh overall.