PENNY HILL – First- and second- place runners contend for championships, but fourth and fifth runners win team titles in cross country. On Friday, Salesianum’s most important runner was its sixth man.
With more than 30 runners ahead of him in the final quarter-mile of the Joe O’Neill Invitational, Sallies junior Asa Bloom detected weariness in his competition. He passed four runners, one of them Tatnall’s fifth man, Adam McFoy.
Bloom’s last-minute acceleration caused Salesianum and Tatnall to finish with 69 points each. Because Bloom was the faster sixth man, in a sport where only the top five runners ordinarily score, he became the tie-breaker to give the Sals the championship, their first in the Bellevue race since 2008.
“Coming out of the woods, there were a couple of Sallies kids ahead of me. I couldn’t catch them, but I saw a there was a Tatnall runner, so I was trying to beat him. I was excited that I was sixth place for sallies, but then afterwards, it turned out to mean we won the race,” said Bloom.
Kieran Tuntivate of Charter won the mid-season centerpiece of high school cross country, outlasting Tatnall’s Stephen Garrett in the first of many senior-year showdowns. Tunitvate’s 15:28.7 and Garrett’s 15:30.9 were the fifth and sixth fastest times ever run within the state by Delaware athletes.
Despite the balmy weather, tempered by a mild breeze, which should have been ideal, few of the elite runners set personal bests.
“At two miles, it felt pretty good,” said Tuntivate, who had hoped to chase Garrett’s 15:15 performance last year in North Carolina. “It didn’t work well together, but I think Stephen and I worked well together and we finished well.”
“It’s hard after school,” offered Salesianum’s Andrew Halley (7th), pointing out that lunch presents difficult decisions, none ideal, for runners who must compete within the next three hours.
For Garrett, the lack of hills deprived him of the points where he customarily accelerates past his opponents’ reach.
Kevin Murray of third-place Charter (3rd) and Eamon McCoy of Brandywine (4th) stayed with the leaders. Jarod Wilson of Newark (5th) led the next pack.
Finally at full strength, Salesianum sent Tommy Higley (6th), Halley, Kyle Jones (15th), Colin Parker (20th) and George Steinhoff (21st) into the chute among the leaders.
Michael Flanagan (8th) and Joey Garrett (9th) paced Tatnall. Sam Hete (10th) led Sussex Tech, at fifth place the top downstate team. Brandon Holveck (13th) and Daniel Mwaniki (16th) led fourth-place Newark. Brendan Harris (12th) led Tower Hill to ninth place. Chris Avila of Charter (11th) and Kyle Swain of Delaware Military (14th) also cracked the top 15.