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PHS XC competes in state meet

Last Saturday morning dawned crisp, clear and bright and for the Parkland Trojans cross country team that was competing against Pennsylvania’s best. It was the culmination of tumultuous yet rewarding season.

The scarlet and gray boys contingent concluded the 2020 season with a seventh-place finish in the PIAA cross country championship Class 3A race held in Hershey. It was the highest ever finish for a Parkland boys team in state competition.

On the girls side, Elena Wenger finished in 76th place in the individual race rankings.

“This year more than any other year, a trip to states had to be earned,” said Parkland cross country coach Stephen Ott. “Seeing our student-athletes toe the line in Hershey made me proud of them for earning their spot in the race.”

Ben Esquieres (18:13) led the Trojans, with Brian Warren (18:20) claiming a team second-place finish. Josh Beltrame (18:26), Brady Hoffman (18:49) and Paul Abeln (18:50) rounded out the Parkland contingent.

“Ben was on a mission today and pushed our boys to a strong finish,” Ott said.

The satisfaction of the finish was also coupled with the realization this is the end of the line for some.

“It is sad to know our seniors will no longer race the 5K course with us, although luckily we still have track with them,” Ott said. “Their leadership has laid a solid foundation for our underclassmen. The continued success of our team now lies in their hands.”

In the race’s immediate aftermath, context is often hard to assign. That is for another day, perhaps even years from now.

“I know that the support of each other as teammates is something each runner will take with them moving forward in their lives,” Ott said. “The people you surround yourself with help to shape who you are and what you become. I know that when any of our team members recall the 2020 season, it will be the smile below the mask, the virtual high five and belief that anything is possible when you believe you can. These things will lead all of them to great successes in their lives.”

Not bad for a season that almost never was.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Parkland took nine runners to the state meet Saturday in Hershey.