By: Chris Manning | AthensWildcats.com | October 15, 2022 | Photo courtesy Chris Manning


ROME — After the varsity races here Saturday at the NTL Coaches Championships, the future of the league was on display as the junior high runners took the stage.

Two teams stood out on the day — the Athens boy and the Wellsboro girls as both groups came away with team and individual titles.

The Wildcats won the boys’ race with 33 points, followed by Wyalusing (52), Sullivan County (54), Troy (101), Towanda (113), and Sayre (145).

Athens’ Graham Wanck (9:53) added another title to a season full of them, pulling away early for a comfortable win on the 1.68-mile course.

“I’ve been working hard all year, and it’s really paid off this meet,” said Wanck. “It’s not an easy sport, but I love it.”

Wanck’s had quite a season — earning a race record in his win at the McQuaid Invitational, winning the Bob Green Invite, and going undefeated in the NTL.

“I was really surprised, and really happy with myself,” he said about his win at McQuaid. “Coming into the next races, I was, you know, raising the bar a little bit, since I know I can do that.”

He’s excited to see what him and his teammates can do once they get up to the varsity level in the next couple of seasons.

“I think our team could go really far,” said Wanck. “This meet, we didn’t have our fifth and sixth runners.”

Wyalusing’s Aidan Neiley (10:25.9) was second, the only 7th-grader in the top four. Wellsboro’s Michael Knefly (10:36.7) came in third, Athens’ Eli Hicks (10:50.7) was fourth, and NEB’s Jackson Martin (11:05.7) rounded out the top five.

The rest of the medal-winners were Wildcats Matt Rossettie (11:11) and Jacob Shores (11:18.3) in sixth and seventh, Sullivan County’s Isaiah Botsford (11:18.7) in eighth, with Wyalusing’s Brayden Johnson (11:24.1) and Parker Cunningham (11:33.3) took ninth and 10th.

Towanda’s top runner was Quentin Little (11:59.1) in 13th, with Troy’s Owen Campbell (12:11.8) in 17th to lead them. Other top runners from the schools were Sayre’s Corey Hurd (12:18.3) in 19th, and Canton’s Manuel Halbfoerster (12:49.7) in 28th.

On the girls’ side, Wellsboro edged out Towanda 24-31 to win the girls’ title, as the Hornets went 1-3 between Lauren Kosek (11:20.1) and Isla Twoey (11:52.7).

“It’s awesome,” Kosek said about winning the girls’ title. “I’ve been trying for two years. This is my last big meet of junior high, so it’s super exciting.”

Kosek’s goal was to get the course record.

“I missed it by 11 or 12 seconds,” she said. “But there’s also very many good girls here, so I’m very happy getting first.”

She’s also glad to see her team take first, and hopes this is a sign of things to come for the Hornets down the road.

“We should have some good middle schoolers moving up to varsity, and moving into junior high,” said Kosek. “We’re very happy to be growing.”

NPM’s Jaci Fairchild (11:49.2) was second, while Towanda’s Mary Kate Eberlin (11:53.3) and NEB’s Kara Dughi (12:29.6) rounded out the top five.

Wyalusing’s Camryn Gesford (12:33.1) took sixth, with CV’s Clare McKee (12:46.4) finishing seventh. Sullivan County’s Zoey Reese (12:48.6) and Paige Jordan (12:51.4) were eighth and ninth, while Towanda’s Kenzie Brown (13:04.5) rounded out the top 10.

Troy’s Sheridan Wilcox (13:32.2) took 13th, Sayre’s Reghan McGaughey (15:25.7) was 24th, and Athens’ Abigail Conklin (18:14.2) finished 28th as their teams’ top runners.