Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Red, White & Blue Meet a Measuring Stick

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Red, White & Blue Meet a Measuring Stick

Article excerpt

The Red, White & Blue Classic cross country meet is celebrating its 10th year this Saturday at Schenley Park and, as always, it will be a fast and mixed-up competition.

"You don't know the teams that have picked up a good freshman who may have just moved into their district," said Rich Wright, Baldwin High School's head coach who serves as the meet coordinator. "With 60 boys and girls teams typically entering, the Red, White & Blue Classic has become the region's starting point for the strategy game of cross country."

For example, Highlanders' sophomore Jake Phillips may be an unexpected runner in veteran teams' paths. By winning the JV race at the Sept. 1 Gateway Invitational, Phillips earned his way onto Baldwin's varsity squad. Now, boys' teams will face a Baldwin pack including Phillips and veterans Christian Labash and George Kelly. Labash and Kelly ran on Baldwin's winning varsity squad at the Gateway Invitational.

The girls' race will also be a mix of both seasoned and unexpected competition.

"This is the biggest girls' team we've ever had," said Wright.

He said newcomer Stephanie Bott is in her first year of running, but finished as Baldwin's fifth runner at the Gateway Invitational. The Baldwin girls finished ninth (of 15 teams) at Gateway.

The North Hills girls' team is heading to the Red, White & Blue meet and running at least five members of its 2011 WPIAL champion team.

"Obviously, Shannon and Mary Malone are going to be favorites," said Indians coach Doug Sundo. "But to round out my top five, there's Caitlin Janeda, Clare Brown and Sabrina Palmieri."

Shannon and Mary Malone are the younger sisters of the now- graduated Margo Malone, who dominated many cross country and track events for North Hills.

But despite North Hills' veteran status, Sundo also sees the Red, White & Blue meet as a strategizing opportunity.

"I use it as a barometer to see where we stack up against the other teams," he said. "I'm really looking to see who's going to step up to the plate, and I'm going to use the meet for my own purpose -- to see where we're at depth-wise."

The Central Catholic team is also coming off of a state qualifying-year, but will be competing for the first time this season on Saturday. …

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