Clarion Area Cross Country Holds Team Banquet

(Images courtesy of Clarion Area Cross Country: Above – The combined Junior High Team receives their Championship plaque.)

(By Head Coach Keith Murtha)

Our annual Clarion Area Bobcat Cross Country Banquet, on Thursday, November 18th, was a great night of celebrating the hard work our runners and coaches put into a fantastic season!  Congratulations to both Junior High girls and boys on being named Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC) champs and our Junior High boys earning the Northwestern Middle School championship title!  Big shout out as well to our four seniors as they head off to new adventures!  We wish the best to Bella, Gavin, Philip, and Ryan!

(Seniors are awarded shadow boxes from their parents)

It was a night of celebrating the present and the future! Our Junior High teams both had tremendous seasons and it is so exciting to look to the future and see what is possible. Anna Hoover and Anna O’Toole were recognized as Co-Most Valuable Runners.  Maggie Snodgrass was named Rookie of the Year.  On the boys’ side, upstarts Hayden Weber and Nathan Frederick were named MVP and Rookie of the Year respectively.

The Junior High teams received a plaque for being the first teams to win the KSAC championship in the same year and the boys undefeated school record season.

On the varsity side, it was a celebration for a senior laden team.  These seniors, over their six years, have won 2 KSAC championships and been part of 2 additional state qualifying teams.

We were fortunate enough to convince Ryan Alston to run in his senior year, after trying to recruit him earlier in his career. Ryan is a multi-sport athlete, who played golf and is a dedicated motorbike racer. Ryan was fantastic, especially given the training he was able to get in, given his other activities. Philip Bartley has been a tremendous team member and leader. Philip was awarded the Big Cat award for coming up big on and off the course. Philip was also the drum major for the Bobcat marching band.

Gavin Hoover had a tremendous career starting with his eighth grade year where he set some course records. His freshman year, he was part of a team that competed in districts which was the deepest single A boys district in the state. His sophomore year, he was part of a state qualifying team that defeated state powerhouse Elk County Catholic. His junior year was pure magic, given all the unknowns of the COVID pandemic, he qualified for the state championship finishing 22nd and becoming only the fifth Bobcat to do so.  Gavin struggled with illness and injury his senior year but battled through like a true champion.

(The varsity team being recognized for their accomplishments.)

Bella started her career on a team which was back-to-back KSAC champions, losing only 1 dual meet in 2 years. Her freshman year, she was a key member of the first girls state qualifying team in school history. Bella struggled with illness her sophomore year and finished as the first non-state qualifier in both her sophomore and junior years, when the field was cut in half by COVID-19.  Bella had a very consistent season her senior year, medaling in all her major invitationals, finishing 6th at districts and qualifying for States. She ran well on the challenging state course and finishes her career with the 3rd best state finish in school history. Bella is committed to continue her academic and athletic career at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

I want to send a big thank you to the booster club for their fantastic support throughout the years and for putting on this fantastic banquet.

(Thanks to Coach Murtha for this article and Clarion Area Bobcat Cross Country for their images. Congratulations, Bobcats!!!!