MONONGAHELA – Here’s how strong a runner Zack Marmol has become.
The senior from Peters Township slipped twice and fell but still managed to win his third straight boys title in the Washington County Coaches Cross Country Meet at Mingo Creek County Park Monday.
Oh, it should be noted that Marmol crossed in a good time of 16:20 over the rain-drenched, 3.1-mile course, 12 seconds faster than Josiah Wudkwych of Canon-McMillan and 15 seconds faster than Lucas Pajak of Ringgold.
“That’s three in a row,” said Marmol with a wide grin. “This is my last Washington County Coaches Meet.”
As his teammates gathered at the finish line, Marmol couldn’t help himself over the final 10 yards, sticking his tongue out in fun then flashing three fingers as he crossed.
On the girls side, Stephanie Keelon of Canon-McMillan capped a four-year career in this race by winning her second title after beating the field with a time of 19:59.
Peters Township won the large school (Class AAA) team title, outdistancing Canon-McMillan, 25-37. Trinity finished third with 64 points.
Ringgold won the girls smaller school (Class AA-A) team title with 20 points. Burgettstown was second with 51 points and Avella was third with 60.
On the boys side, Canon-McMillan stopped Peters Township, 23-39, in the large school (Class AAA) team event. Trinty (39) was third.
Ringgold won the smaller school (Class AA-A) team title with 19 points. Chartiers-Houston (56) was second and Fort Cherry (68) took third.
Marmol, who like Keelon has not decided on a college, wore the remnants of part of the muddy trail on his arms and legs. An overnight storm dropped a ton of rain to make the path loose before a steady rain throughout the day caused it to break apart underfoot.
“The course was muddy in the back, but a lot better than it was last year,” said Marmol. “I was taking it slow and easy down the hills. I slipped once on my knee. On the last bend, I slid. But that’s all right. It’s always good being out here with some of the fastest kids in the county.”
As a freshman, Marmol took ninth. His teammates took him in and got him to redo some of his training techniques.
“I also found out I was allergic to gluten,” he said. “No more pasta loading for me because it was giving me an allergic reaction.”
Marmol broke out early but was pushed at the midway point. He gathered himself and burst back into the lead and not even a second fall was enough to stop Marmol from a third straight win.
“I liked (the weather) because I like the cool and I like the rain,” he said. “It was really cool to have such a nice race.”
Keelon had a less eventful race, grabbing an early lead on her nemesis, the talented Brucker, and slowly increasing her lead. By the end, it was a win by 1:16.
“I didn’t have a great race last year,” said Keelon. “I trained a lot this summer. I was going on 13-mile runs. I told myself if I could trust my training, it would turn out really good. I’ve been going back and forth with the Peters girls all season. I’ve only beaten Lizzie once. I thought if I could stay close to her, I’d have a chance. Then I went out early and felt really good.”
Keelon won this event as a sophomore and finished a disappointing third last season.
“I didn’t have a great race,” she said. “I don’t think I did the right training so it was way different this summer. I don’t think it could have gone any better.”