Weekly Feature



2018-11-07 / Sports

St. Joe’s cross-country team narrowly wins All-Catholic title

TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter


St. Joe’s runner Evan Hilbert keeps pace at Sunday’s All-Catholic Championship at Knox Farm in East Aurora. Hilbert finished second overall in the race, helping lead his team to a victory. Photo by Jake French St. Joe’s runner Evan Hilbert keeps pace at Sunday’s All-Catholic Championship at Knox Farm in East Aurora. Hilbert finished second overall in the race, helping lead his team to a victory. Photo by Jake French The St. Joe’s cross-country team is back on top. The Marauders won the All-Catholic Championships by one point Sunday in a race that was held at Knox Farm in East Aurora.

The team was led by Evan Hilbert, who finished second overall in a time of 16:35. He challenged for first place against three-time All-Catholic Champion Tommy Appenheimer of Cardinal O’Hara.

“I think we had a really solid day,” St. Joe’s coach Matt Dow said. “Evan Hilbert was really close to Tommy Appenheimer; he really improved dramatically. It was a one-point win, so it was our five, six and seven runners that really stepped up and displaced people.”

Hilbert was followed by Joe Ferrantini, who finished fifth at 18:01.8. Ian Klenk was ninth at 18:28.27, Isaac Gscwend was 13th at 18:45, and Sam Isingoma was just behind him at 18:48. Meanwhile, Alex Sinatra was 17th at 19:04.41 while Daeshyon Riley was 18th at 19:06.8.

The team was confident going into the race, having won the regular-season league title at 7-0. But after a close meet against Canisius, they knew they were in for a tough matchup. The Crusaders got three runners in the top six, but the St. Joe’s depth was superior.

“We knew that we’d be really close,” Dow said. “Our dual meet against Canisius was close so we knew that they would be fired up and ready to come after us. They improved dramatically from 10 days ago. They made it a super close, competitive race.”

The team ran in near-perfect conditions for this time of year. Often, year-end meets are marred by mud, rain, freezing temperatures or even snow. But Sunday’s weather featured a comfortable temperature and no precipitation.

“I didn’t think it was too bad; it was sunny,” Dow said. “It was up to 50 degrees. A lot of times it’s in the 30s for this race. It rained a lot over the week so the grass was soft. Overall, it was the perfect weather. We had cool, crisp temperatures.”

The team last won the All-Catholic Championship in 2016, but finished just behind St. Francis last year. This was the first championship as a coach for Dow, who took over the program last season. He’s now continuing the successful legacy of St. Joe’s cross-country, which features a strong alumni base.

“For me, it was huge,” Dow said. “To be able to step up and keep our tradition going meant a lot to me. There were a lot of former coaches there, and it sent a really powerful message to the boys to see the continuity of the program. We always have a ton of alumni at All-Catholics, running all over the course to cheer the boys on, even in the backwoods. It’s powerful for them to see the continuation of tradition and to know that they are part of something bigger than themselves.”

The team will now move on to the New York State Federation Championship Meet Nov. 17 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. They’ll be joined by Appenheimer and Canisius runners Lucas Beyer and Frano Rados. The team is aiming to finish in the top 20.

“It’s always a really tough meet,” Dow said. “Our goal is to be right around the 18-20 range. Getting in the top 20 would be huge.”

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