By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
HERSHEY -- Out of the Valley's 35 representatives who have qualified to run at the PIAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, nine are freshmen.
Traditionally, first-year runners don't fare too well at the state meet, which is once again held on the Parkview Course located behind the Giant Center. With almost 300 runners in each race, freshmen tend to get swallowed up in the back of the pack where they are neither seen nor heard from again.
Shikellamy coach Jim Bell has seen the worse that can happen to a runner at states, but he doesn't expect his freshman competitor, Treicy Cedeno, to suffer the same fate.
Cedeno enters the Class AA girls race with the fastest qualifying time of 18 minutes, 42 seconds.
"The biggest problem at states is getting caught in the back of the pack. I've actually seen runners stand and wait to get around a corner," said Bell. "We hope Treicy can get out from the back. I've been coaching her to pace herself out of her start."
The top 25 runners in each race receive medals, and Bell thinks Cedeno has what it takes to come back to Sunbury with some shiny neckwear -- especially if she breaks 20 minutes on a tough course that has been made even more challenging thanks to all the rain brought by Hurricane Sandy.
"We think Treicy has a genuine chance to medal. Her training has gone well with the hurricane and everything, and we have a hopeful outlook," said Bell. "She was extremely confident and withdrawn at the starting line at (the District 4 meet). If she can bring that same kind of concentration at states, it'll be a good day."
It could also be a good day for the district champion Danville's girls team, which features three freshmen -- Mackenzie Jones, Katelyn Maffei, Maddy Messa -- among the seven who will run in the race for the Ironmen.