Northeast Bradford wins Class A boy's title
HERSHEY - Northeast Bradford won a state title and this time there was no question about it.
The Panthers had two in the top five, three in the top 25 and four in the top 65 en route to 96 points, 37 more than second place Elk Lake to take the PIAA Class A boy's cross-country championship Saturday.
"It doesn't get much better than this," Northeast Bradford coach Mike Murphy. "It was kind of interesting because all of the three guys who had been here before came away with state hardware."
Sam Williams, Curt Jewett and Brandon Devonshire all took home individual medals for NEB.
Williams and Jewett led them to the title. Williams was third in 16:13 while Jewett was fourth in 16:20.
The two ran with the top pack for the first half of the race, then ran together the rest of the way to finish back to back.
"Me and Brandon were joking about the fourth place course," Williams said. "To finally get third was exciting. I was just so happy and to have Curt right there with me and to have Brandon get a medal, it's just such a great day. We're so happy."
His running partner was just as elated.
"It feels pretty amazing," Jewett said about taking fourth overall. "My mindset was kind of stay with the lead pack, watch the moves and make one where I need to. (Rico) Galassi went after the first mile and the lead pack just let him go."
Galassi of Holy Cross won in 15:59 with Elk Lake's Luke Jones in second at 16:00.
Jewett was happy to have Williams by his side.
"We just used each other as teammates," he explained. "We've worked all four years as hard as we can to get where we are. Four years has paid off and we hit our gold medal."
And the feeling was mutual.
"Curt was a huge presence for me in this race," Williams said. "Just having him right next to me helped me pull through. I didn't feel perfect today, Luke and Rico ran really great and I wish I was up there with them but I'm happy with how it worked."
Their coach knew it was going to tough for them to get that top spot.
"There was really five guys that I think that were interchangeable," Murphy said. "To me it was going to come down to who just had the better day. I was really happy, they both ran their best time on this course and I think had a good. It was just not a great day but a really good day."
He also thinks they played it safe a little.
"I think they had the team in mind," Murphy said. "We just knew that they just needed to be top five and to do what they needed for the team. I'm sure they would have loved to have won but at the same time I think they had a good day."
Junior Devonshire once again stepped up in a state meet. He worked his way up to 22nd overall at 17:08 and earned his first career state medal.
"It's overwhelming," Devonshire exclaimed. "I kept telling myself I was going to do it but I didn't really think I would."
He knew that he was close most of the race.
"Murph was yelling to me," Devonshire explained. "I knew where I had to be."
As he got closer he worked to get into that top 25.
"Just relaxed and keep picking off," Devonshire explained. "Don't give up."
At the beginning of the year he wasn't sure where he would be running in November.
"I started off this year not even a chance of medaling," Devonshire explained. "It feels good."
His coach has noticed his improvement, too.
"We've been calling him Brandon 2.0," Murphy remarked. "He had a great freshmen year, he had a little bit of a rough sophomore but he has not only improved as a runner but as an all-around person, too. Just everything and I was really, really happy to see Brandon get a state medal."
The three medalists were just as excited as their coach to make school and PIAA history as the first ever Class A boy's champions.
"I'm so glad for this team," Devonshire said.
"Were making history today," added Jewett. "We're the first ever team (at Northeast Bradford) to bring home a gold state medal."
"Words can't explain it," Williams chimed in. "We've worked so hard, we've put in so many thousands of hours and so many runs. It's just the most amazing feeling."
Freshman Levi Upham finished 61st in 17:46 while Derek Allabaugh rounded out the top five in 130th at 18:33.
"Levi, I think he's probably going to be a little disappointed in his race," Murphy said. "But its his first time here and he'll be back. And Derek, his first time here, too. And it takes five to win a state title and he was right there to win the title. We couldn't have done it without Derek."
Also for the Panthers Ben Horton was 140th at 18:42 while Sam Beers took 183rd at 19:53.
This has been a long time coming for the veteran coach.
"We've been working really hard for more than just this year," Murphy explained. "For almost a decade. We just try to keep bettering ourselves and move our way up the ladder."
It has been a long process to reach this point.
"You know, we came here and we were 17th," Murphy remarked. "Then 10th, then 8th. We kept climbing towards the top, in 2005 we were fifth, then in 2010 we almost had it there and we watched it slip by. Then 2012 this was going to be our year."
And in doing so they were able to exorcise the demons of 2010 where a disqualified runner kept them from a state title.
"It just feels so good to comeback and do this," Devonshire said.
"To win it for Kent, for Jake and for Murph," Williams said. "That's just huge."
And looking ahead Northeast will be able to reload for next season as they bring in a few top flight junior high runners.
"I think we'll be right back," Murphy said. "I think if everybody stays healthy and comes back I think we'll contend next year to defend."