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Gavin Hoover Finishes 22nd In PIAA State Class-A , Earns ALL-STATE Honors! (Posted 11/13/20)

(All photos courtesy of Clarion Area Cross Country) Above: Bobcats Assistant Coach Rosary Pennington, Gavin Hoover and Bobcat Head Coach Keith Murtha

Clarion Area’s Gavin Hoover earned All-State honors by finishing 22nd in the PIAA State Cross Country Class-A Race, at Hershey Park on Saturday, November 7th.

Clarion Area Head Coach Keith Murtha shares this article:

Coming off a strong second half off the season that started at the only Invite of the year, Oil City, I really have to give Coach Johnson and Coach Burke credit they had the vision to run what we now refer to as a “drive thru” invite, where 4 teams compete at a time in waves, and then times are merged.  They did a fantastic job and it ended up being the format the State meet took. 

Focused in warmups! It’s Go Time!

I knew District 10 would be very competitive this year on the state level, this ended up being one of the best we did all year and it really was the ignition for Gavin!  He continued to build the fire through dual meets, training, the Coaches 5K, featuring some of the better boys in the KSAC and then we were fortunate to run in a district prep race with many (six) other D9 teams at Brookville.  Gavin had a strong day at Districts, propelling him to States.

Everything about States was different this year, but fortunately we were still having it!  You couldn’t get on the course the day before, but thankfully, Gavin had run this course many times before both thru the Foundation Invitational and as member of the State qualifying team last year. This year’s race would be run in waves. He had also done that before at Oil City and thankfully he was in the last and perhaps fastest wave, although everyone at States is really good!

Checking results with hopeful hearts!

Lastly, as coach you can’t just stand in strategic spots and count to see how your athlete is progressing, you have to nervously wait for the results to be merged!

Heading into States, Gavin was seed 40th, which I thought was very accurate and that was our goal, to run and try to beat the seed… Mission Accomplished!

The weather was amazing that day, perhaps the best ever for States; the first weekend in November, anything can happen, Sunny and 58 degrees. Perhaps, less people in your race on that day, was an advantage, as runners don’t have to worry about being boxed out.

Gavin ran an amazing race, followed the race plan to a T.  Fellow District 9 runners Joe Wolf, Matt Woolcock and Rachel Bauer also had great days.

The Hoover Family

Today, as it often happens between districts and states, the roles reversed. Freshmen Kevin Sherry had such a great race at districts and beat Gavin to finish third.  At states, it was Gavin’s turn. Today was his day, finishing as the 3rd D9 runner and second KSAC runner to the aforementioned athletes, who also attained the All-State Recognition.

Joe Wolf finished 7th overall, the 1st D9 runner and ran masterful race, Matt Woolcock was solid as he had been all year finishing 15th overall, the 1st KSAC runner and Gavin was 22nd overall in PA, the 2nd KSAC runner and 3rd D9 runner in 17:46! 

Coach Murtha presenting the medal to Gavin

Gavin finished 99th last year in 18:20 he has indeed made the jump!

Gavin becomes the 5th Bobcat runner in school history to earn the All-State honor, following in the footsteps of Clarion great Jack Morgan (’77-79), Current Clarion University Coach, Slippery Rock All-American Eric Laughlin, (1986, 87), Liam Raeshler  (2014 D9 Champion) and Penn State Recruit and current Bobcat Evelyn Lerch (2018, first female and freshman).

Gavin and Coach Murtha on the podium

We wish to congratulate our KSAC mates North Clarion Girls team who finished an amazing 4th, led by Rachel Bauer who medaled, finishing 24th overall individually and the Cranberry Boys team who finished 7th, even with the COVID restrictions and considerations! 

It is always a magical time of the year!

(Thanks to Coach Murtha for this article and to Clarion Area Cross Country for the Pics. CONGRATULATIONS TO GAVIN AND ALL THE OTHER AREA RUNNERS!!!!)