Valoroso's 4th place finish leads Towanda to top 10 in teams
HERSHEY - Towanda's Aaron Valoroso led for the first mile of the PIAA Class AA boy's race Saturday.
He would fall back a little bit but hung tough to take fourth overall and lead the Black Knights to a ninth place team finish.
"It was just those hills, they get to you," Valoroso remarked about his race. "Running's just not running, you have to have a mindset there."
The Knights scored 243 points to get into the top 10 while fellow District IV team Lewisburg was eighth with 234.
"I'm thrilled with them," Towanda coach Leo Harris said about his team's performance. "We set a goal with them to be top 10. As I looked across the state at what everybody else did we had to actually for us a great race to be somewhere between seventh and 13th and to be ninth, I'm just proud of my guys. They were spent at the end of the race."
This comes in the new Class AA, which Towanda is one of the smaller schools in.
"This is such a great morale victory."
Harris was pleased with his top runner's performance.
"Aaron's had such a wonderful career," he said. "The goal all year had been to have a chance to win that title. He was in the lead at one point and giving himself a chance, which he had to do. Certainly not disappointed with him at all. He's represented us really well."
Valoroso explained his fast start as something of an accident.
"The first mile it was bit hectic," he explained. "I didn't get a great start, I got stuck in the middle. Right as it curves over into the woods people just went sideways and almost took me out. I just got around everybody and was out in front right before we hit the tunnel."
"I tried slowing it down," he added. "I knew I was out hard and I could feel my breathing just rise. We went through the first mile in 4:44, 4:46 and I was like 'oohh, that's going to hurt a little bit.'"
He didn't mind the pain as he held on through the tough second half of the race for his top five finish.
"That's racing for you," Valoroso said. "You never know what its going to do. It's going to hurt either way. You take the most pain and deal with it."
He's thrilled with how his career went.
"It's been great," Valoroso said. "The times have improved all four years, placements improved over the last four years. I raced with a great group of kids and just did my own thing out there."
Pottsgrove (96) won the team title with Grove City (99) second.
Vinny Todaro of Big Spring won the race in 16:00 just ahead of North Schuykill's Brendan Shearn (16:04).
Also for Towanda Simon Smith was 54th overall in 17:26, Kevin Blackman finished 127th in 18:03, Schuyler Smith was right behind in 132nd at 18:05 while Derrick Cole was 182nd in 18:45.
"When I started seeing their times as they were coming through I was thinking they are a great nucleus to build on," Harris said. "Simon still recovering from being sick. I knew he wanted more and to be honest we had aspirations of going for (the medals)."
Harris was also pleased with his third through fifth runners.
"Kevin and Schuyler narrowed it right down," he said. "And Derrick Cole running in 18s. Those guys, all but Aaron are coming back."
He's even had people notice his team's performance.
"I had somebody come up to me 'those Towanda boys kept closing at the end,'" Harris said. "It just was pretty cool."
Also for the Knights Jordan Isbell (19:18) was 210th and Nicholas Secules (19:49) was 130th.
Sayre's Nick Sweet was one spot ahead of Smith at 53rd in 17:26.
"It felt really awesome running here," Sweet remarked. "It was really packed early in the race. I got caught in the back and had to make up a lot of ground as the race progressed."
He just wanted to run his race and hit a personal best.
"I was going for a faster time than the invitational they had there," Sweet explained. "I beat it my a minute."
Troy's Ethan Calkins was 106th in 17:55 while Athens' Matt Millard took 120th in 18:01.
"It felt pretty good," Calkins said about the race.
He hurt his calf earlier in the week but it didn't affect him during the race.
"I wanted to get a fast start and get up into the top 15," Calkins explained. "I wanted to try and hold that and try and medal but I got packed up right in the beginning and couldn't really get out there. I haven't run in a race so far that was like this with so many good runners."
This really gets him excited for next season.
"I think just coming down here and running the course will better prepare me," Calkins said. "I'll try and really do something next year."