By DENNY DYROFF
For 21st Century Media
COATESVILLE -- Coatesville was a gracious host for Saturday's 49th Annual Steel City Boys Cross Country Invitational -- but not gracious enough to allow any other school to leave the meet in possession of the team championship trophy.
The Red Raiders almost posted a shutout. They accounted for the first four runners across the line and finished first with an impressive score of 21 points. Bishop Shanahan placed second with 53 followed by Devon Prep with 90 and Oxford with 100.
Coatesville's T.J. Mirenda won the gold medal -- without a challenge. The distance ace crossed first at 17:50 -- more than a half-minute faster than anyone else in the race.
"Last year, I did well here and finished sixth in the junior varsity race,' said Mirenda, a junior. "I've been doing well in dual meets so I really wanted to win Steel City this year. I ran this course a lot during the summer.
"I took the first mile hard. At the mile, I was in first along with two Shanahan guys. I stayed with them going up the hill. I worked the hill well. I didn't have any problems. Then, I opened it up on the downhill.'
That was when it became a one-man race.
"I opened my stride and soon was out in front by myself,' said Mirenda. "I pushed it for the third mile and then finished strong. I think the best part of my race was coming down the hill.'
The next three finishers were Mirenda's teammates Robert Ruprecht at 18:24; Blake Ettien, who was third with a time of 18:26; and Josh Okumura at 18:32.
"The first mile was faster than a lot of my other first miles,' said Ruprecht, a junior. "I was up front and that made me go harder. I was just a little behind T.J. and the Shanahan guys.
I caught up with the Shanahan kids in the second mile when we were coming down the hill. I worked the downhill really well and then just used everything I had left on the flats.'
The Red Raiders' other finishers were Jared Henderson, who was 11th at 18:50; Ina Dietrich, 12th with a time of 18:54; and Nate Gemmell, who finished 16th with a clocking of 19:38.
Bishop Shanahan was propelled to its runner-up finish by a trio of veterans -- Jake McGranahan, who was fifth with a time of 18:33; Matthew Allan, who finished sixth with a clocking of 18:34; and Christopher Kolimago, who was seventh with a time of 18:45.
Devon Prep's top finisher was Jack Roth, who checked in ninth with a time of 18:47, and Oxford's Bryant Wilson, 10th at 18:48.