HERSHEY — It might not have been the finish they wanted, but the result was just as sweet in the District 3-AAA boys cross country race at Hersheypark.
Zach Seiger of Red Land and Carlisle’s Zach Brehm held the 1-2 lead at the midway point of the race but it would be New Oxford’s Aaron Gebhart who would come out ahead at 16:11 for the gold.
Seiger would settle for second at 16:15 while Brehm crossed at 16:18 for third.
“Aaron is an amazing competitor and he always comes out to compete and he did a really good job at the end of the season peaking at the right time,” Seiger said of the lead change. “Great training and he’s an absolutely amazing runner, congratulations to him, he’s great.”
For Carlisle, Brehm’s third-place finish was the beginning of the Thundering Herd’s effort to place the whole team at states. And they succeeded.
At 176 points, Carlisle placed third to send the boys on alongside the girls, who secured not only a spot but the District 3-AAA title. This is the first time the Thundering Herd have sent both teams to states together since 2007.
“Here’s the thing,” Brehm said about the team’s success. “Our guys and our girls team totally switched places. Last year our girls were heavy up front with not a whole lot of depth and the guys team got second with just a whole lot of depth. This year, the girls — huge depth and they won the title for it. We were pushing and we were thinking that if we pushed it, we could make it. We had four guys and we were just hoping to get that fifth one across the line.”
Making it across the line to secure the effort was Matt Wisner in 14th, Joe Deangelo at 24th, Brandin Dyche at 53rd and Max Fiorentino at 84th.
“At the beginning of the season, you would have thought it would have been flipped,” Carlisle coach Ed Boardman said. “We just couldn’t have a bad day, our four and five needed to get it done, we had no room for error.”
Combining for the 176 points, the Herd were just ahead of fourth-place Twin Valley at 179 and only eight points ahead of last year’s champion Lower Dauphin.
Taking the 2014 title was Hempfield at 150 with Cumberland Valley second at 154.
Red Land fell short of their hope for moving the team on to states but Seiger won’t be alone in his run. Drew Wilkinson placed 12th for a medal and a spot at states.
For the Eagles, Quinn Wasko led the team in sixth with Josh Higgins in 17th to medal and help the team secure second.
Running solo at states for the AAA race will be Mechanicsburg’s Morgan Cupp, who landed 25th on the day, and 28th-place Jared Kearns of Northern.
The AA class will have just two local representatives. East Pennsboro’s Sam Signor ran a 16:51 to place fifth with Boiling Springs’ Zach Bitner snagging the last medal at 17:45.
They, along with the AAA qualifiers, will return to Hersheypark on November 1 for the PIAA State Championship.
Email Kathryn Fitzgerald at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @KRaynFitzgerald