Wilson senior Caryn Rippey and Schuylkill Valley senior Luke Seymour each made history Tuesday at the Berks Conference Run at Kutztown University.
Rippey became the fifth Berks girl to win three consecutive championships when she turned back Wilson classmate Katie Dallas by seven seconds on the 3.1-mile cross country course.
Seymour became the first Schuylkill Valley runner in 40 years to take the boys title, beating Exeter senior Alex Holbrook by nine seconds. Jon Schappell won the Berks crown in 1981 and is the only other Panthers boy or girl to finish first in the event’s history.
“It’s just great,” Seymour said. “I finally won a pretty big title. It means a lot. It’s pretty cool.”
He broke away from Holbrook about 1000 meters into the race while running down a hill and widened his lead by the halfway point. He maintained that margin the rest of the way and finished in 16:41. Seymour and Holbrook were considered the top favorites going into the race.
“Ever since our eighth grade track season, we’ve always been like 1 and 2,” Seymour said. “We’re great competition for each other. I knew that he was the guy to beat today.”
Holbrook lost to Seymour by 14 seconds in a regular season meet last month. He looked for his friendly rival right from the start of the race.
“I like to see where my competitors are,” Holbrook said. “We like to push each other. … He just kept pulling away. I tried to reel him in, but I couldn’t do it. I gave it my all. I did everything I could do.”
In the girls race, Rippey knew that Dallas was her only competition with Gov. Mifflin sophomore Kaitlyn Highduch unable to run because of an injury.
The two Wilson teammates took turns winning races in the regular season and broke away from the rest of the field by the halfway point. Dallas stayed close before Rippey kicked it into high gear on the course’s final hill about 400 meters from the finish and crossed the line in 18:53.
“I knew from running here two years ago that the hill at the end is probably my favorite part,” Rippey said. “I like hills a lot. The last part of the race is the most important.”
She overcame a respiratory infection early in the season and some self-doubt to join Wilson’s Alison Willingmyre (2014-16), Gov. Mifflin’s Tessa Mundell (2010-12), Tulpehocken’s Heather Weiss (2006-08) and Gov. Mifflin’s Liz Reeser (1992-94) as the only girls to win the Berks run three years in a row.
“It means a lot,” Rippey said. “No one has ever won four in a row. Winning three in a row is a huge accomplishment. It just shows you what three years of hard work can do.”
Rippey struggled early in the season and missed training time because of the infection. It affected her breathing and her psyche.
“This season has been really frustrating for me,” Rippey said. “Coming back from that (the infection) was really hard with my breathing and finding a rhythm. It really affected my mental health. Without all the training I had the year before, I didn’t have that much confidence.”
The Exeter boys and girls also made history, sweeping the team championships for the first time since 1987.
The Eagles girls placed five runners in the top 16 and defeated runner-up Gov. Mifflin 49-57 for their first title since 2009. Wilson, another Berks I rival, finished third with 65 points. All three teams qualified for the District 3 Class 3A meet Oct. 30 at Big Spring High School.
Kira Marr finished seventh for Exeter, followed by Maddie Holbrook (10th), Gabby Keith (11th), Helene Shevick (14th) and Gabby Hassler (16th).
“It was no one thing,” Eagles coach Tom Chobot said. “Everybody came together at the right moment. We had a great bunch of kids with a great work ethic. We had outstanding senior leadership.”
The Exeter boys won their first championship since 1990, defeating runner-up Twin Valley 63-92. The Raiders had won three straight titles and four of the previous five. Gov. Mifflin, another Berks I team, placed third with 96 points. All three teams qualified for the District 3 meet in 3A.
Holbrook was followed by Cody Schabener (fourth), Jack Sahaida (ninth), Nathan Wentling (21st) and Slater Von Stetten (27th).
“It means everything to us,” Holbrook said. “Honestly, I came into this wanting the team championship more than the individual championship. Our team has been working so hard all summer and all season for this. We deserve it. We put it all on the line.”
In Class 2A boys, Wyomissing, Conrad Weiser and Berks Catholic qualified their teams for the District 3 meet. Wyomissing, Conrad Weiser, Berks Catholic and Schuylkill Valley qualified in 2A girls.
Source: Berkshire mont