Second place out of 30 schools at the WPIAL Championships and disappointed?
That’s how far the Seneca Valley boys cross country team has come.
The Raiders swept the top honors on the Butler County All-Star Team, put together by the county’s coaches. Sam Owori was named Runner of the Year, Steve Strelick Coach of the Year and Seneca Valley Team of the Year.
“I’m not saying we weren’t proud of the accomplishment of finishing second at WPIALs,” Strelick said. “But we had a senior-dominated team this year and took second when those guys were freshmen.
“We won the team title the past two years, so you can see where there wouldn’t be a whole lot of excitement shown for finishing second this time. Winning is the expectation of this program now and we’re proud of that.”
Owori placed 10th at the PIAA meet. Five other Raiders — Seth Ketler (14th at state meet), Noah Peterson, Connor Volk-Klos, Aidan Domencic and Max Weaver — made first team all-county. Peterson, a freshman, is the only non-senior among them.
“All five of those seniors will be running in college somewhere next year, I’m confident of that,” Strelick said. “I love the attitude of all of those guys.
“We’re trying to instill life-long runners here. Whether they run in college, do 5ks or just jog three days a week .... I’ve been a runner all my life, so have our assistant coaches. It’s a lifestyle.”
On the girls side, North Catholic also finished second in the WPIAL — for the third straight season. The Trojanettes just completed their fifth year as a program.
Like SV’s boys, North Catholic swept the major honors among the girls. Alaina Hicks, a freshman who placed 18th at the state meet, is Runner of the Year. Coach Stacy Kopchak is Coach of the Year and the Trojanettes are Team of the Year.
“We lost a talented group of seniors from the year before and didn’t have any seniors on this year’s team,” Kopchak said. “I’m thrilled by what these girls were able to do.”
Among the Trojanettes’ graduation losses was Kopchak’s daughter, Kylee, who is now running at Wake Forest University. She red-shirted this season.
Emma McDonald, a sophomore, joined Hicks on the first team. Riley Orr, a freshman, made second team.
“I’m excited about the future of these girls over the next two or three years,” Coach Kopchak said. “And we have some more outstanding young runners coming up. The program is growing.”
While Strelick is graduating the bulk of his top runners, he remains optimistic about his SV boys team for next season as well.
“I know we’ve got some kids who are going to step up,” he said. “Some of those guys may have felt like they were on automatic this year while the seniors were leading the way.
“They’ve been waiting for it to be their turn. Well, next year is their turn. There’s a lot of pride in this program and I really believe we’ll be as strong as always.”
Following are the Seneca Valley, Mars and North Catholic runners who were recognized on the All-Butler County teams.
Boys First Team
Seneca Valley — Sam Owori, Seth Ketler, Connor Volk-Klos, Noah Peterson, Aidan Domencic, Max Weaver
Mars — Zachary Leachman
Seneca Valley — Adam Owori
North Catholic — Zach Cozza
Mars — John Zervos
North Catholic — Connor Maddalon
Runner of the Year — Sam Owori (Seneca Valley)
Team of the Year — Seneca Valley
Coach of the Year — Steve Strelick (Seneca Valley)
North Catholic — Alaina Hicks, Emma McDonald
Seneca Valley — Bailey Royhab, Megan Aaron, Karsyn Spears, Dylan Kirchner
Mars — McKenna Bowes
Seneca Valley — Lauiren Breski
Mars — Camille Bromley
North Catholic — Riley Orr
Mars — Kalin Wilson, Eliza Matusek
Seneca Valley — Ella Snyder, Ruthie Hughes
North Catholic — Julia Kocsis
Runner of the Year — Alaina Hicks (North Catholic)
Team of the Year — North Catholic
Coach of the Year — Stacy Kopchak (North Catholic)