First Posted: 11/5/2014
The excellence of the Dallas and Lake-Lehman cross country programs extends well beyond the Wyoming Valley Conference.
For the second straight year, the Back Mountain was responsible for at least two state championships and at least one runner-up finish at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships on the Parkview Course in Hershey pn Nov. 1.
Juniors Dominic Hockenbury from Lake-Lehman and Ally Rome from Dallas swept the Class AA individual state championships while teammate Lindsey Oremus battled Rome most of the way before finishing second.
A year ago, Hockenbury and Rome’s older sister, Regan, were runner-up finishers while Dominic DeLuca from Dallas was winning the Class AA boys title and the Dallas girls and Tunkhannock boys were winning Class AA team championships.
Hockenbury, Rome and Oremus are not finished. They will try to extend the Back Mountain reach once again.
Each will compete in the Northeast Regional Nov. 29 in Bronx, N.Y., trying to make it three straight years that a Back Mountain runner competes in Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego. Regan Rome, now a runner at William & Mary, made it to nationals as a junior and senior.
Although he was dominant from the beginning to the end, Hockenbury talked all season about simply trying to make sure he was at his best when the state championships and Foot Locker events rolled around.
Rome had trouble pointing ahead when she missed the early part of the season with a hip injury.
“It was a goal of mine before I got injured,” Rome said of the state championship. “When I came back, I wasn’t running well and it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
“It was so frustrating at first, not being able to train the way I wanted. My coach told me I have to have the courage to be patient.”
Rome won the conference meet while some other top competitors, including Oremus, sat out on a rainy day. She rallied past her teammate, friend and training partner to win the District 2 title.
Oremus and Rome pushed each other again in Hershey separating from the rest of the pack. Exhausted, Oremus fell just before the finish line, made it across seconds behind Rome, then needed some time to recover before meeting up with Rome to celebrate their accomplishments.
“We were both just excited to be 1-2,” Rome said.
Hockenbury ran the 3.1-mile course in 16:01, 35 seconds faster than his time from a year ago when he finished second to DeLuca, a current Cornell University runner.
Tunkhannock’s Jack Tidball also medaled for the second straight year, placing ninth.
Teammate Jacob Toczko just missed out on an individual state medal last year while joining Tidball in helping the Tigers produce a state team championship. The top 25 earn medals in each race and Toczko was 28th last year before earning one this year by finishing 19th.
A young Dallas boys team finished eighth in the state in a 19-team field.
Freshman Jack Zardecki was 40th in a field of 225 runners. Sophomore Jason Culp was 79th and freshman Josh Wyandt was 92nd.
The Mountaineers ran four freshman, a sophomore and two juniors along with senior Kurtis Sod.
Sod was 129th. Other Dallas finishes were Adam Borton in 141st, Josh Jarden in 206th and Robert Martin in 218th.
Rome and Oremus both earned individual state medals last year while helping Dallas win its state championship.
Dallas finished fifth in the state with Rome, Lindsey Oremus, Riley Oremus and Katie Grose all back from the state title.
Freshman Rebecca Balara was the team’s third finisher, placing 89th out of 210 runners. Other finishes were Riley Oremus, 117th; Katie Grose, 157th; Beth Grose, 181s; and Maxine Derome, 189th. Riley Oremus, Grose and Derome are all sophomores.
Tunkhannock’s Maggie Toczko earned her second medal in three years and her third straight top-30 finish by placing seventh.
Erin Rome of Tunkhannock was 47th.