By DENNY DYROFF
For 21st Century Media
HERSHEY -- "Great Expectations' is a story by Charles Dickens.
"Great Expectations' is also the story of West Chester Henderson's boys team at the PIAA Class AAA Cross Country Championships.
The Warriors arrived for the meet at the Parkview Cross Country Course adjacent to Hersheypark with expectations of defending the state title they won in 2012. And, their top runner Tony Russell had expectations of repeating as gold medalist.
Henderson's squad, which won its fifth consecutive district championship last weekend, lived up to expectations as did Russell. The Warriors finished first with 60 points followed by North Allegheny with 97 and Cardinal O'Hara at 101.
"We ran pretty well,' said Henderson coach Kevin Kelly. "We knew North Allegheny and Cardinal O'Hara were good. We just ran our race and had three guys medal. And, Ricky Waltz really stepped it up today.'
Russell successfully defended his title when he crossed first with a time of 15:49.
"The race went out really fast,' said Russell. "And, the first mile was really fast. Colin Abert from Easton took it out hard and was in front for awhile. I took over at the mile-and-a-half mark. The second mile had a lot of hills and I wanted to see how far I could push it. In the last 800, I didn't have anything left but I just kept on pushing.'
Abert finished second -- five seconds behind Russell with a time of 15:54.
Henderson had another top-10 finish when Reiny Barchet took fifth place with a time of 16:04.
"I was 4:50 at the mile which is exactly what I wanted,' said Barchet. "I can't keep up with Tony. I've never been a hill runner but today I stepped up my performance on the hills. I was alone between packs in the last mile. I passed Ross (Council Rock North's Ross Wilson) going up the last hill but he came back and got me at the end.'
The Warriors' other finishers were Alex Knapp (18th, 16:27), Ricky Waltz (30th, 16:49), Seamus Collins (37th, 16:55), Eric Stratman (41st, 16:57) and Kevin Moy (83rd, 17:17).Medals get handed out to the top 25 and two other area runners claimed one of the coveted tokens -- Conestoga's Andrew Marston, who was ninth at 16:17, and West Chester East's Chris Cummings, who placed 12th with a time of 16:21.
"I got out pretty well,' said Marston. "I went out with Gunnar (Sjoreen) and we ran side-by-side. I worked the hills very well today -- picking off people on the uphill and really striding on the downhill. I passed two guys near the end and then one guy zoomed by me.'
Conestoga and Carlisle finished tied with the sixth-best score with 207 points, but sixth place went to Carlisle based on the finish of the teams' sixth runners. The Pioneers' other competitors were Gunnar Sjoreen (31st), James Cooper (42nd), Nick Cruickshank (129th), Killian Nelson (170th) Jack Iffert (176th) and Nick Bocacello (180th).
Chester County's other finishers in Saturday's meet were Downingtown East's Billy Caldwell (33rd, 16:51), Avon Grove's Josh Smith (39th, 16:56), West Chester East's Stephen Dages (43rd, 16:57) and Eric Diestelow (64th, 17:06), Great Valley's Matt Willig (68th, 17:07), Kennett's Chris Kienzle (74th, 17:11) and Unionville's Colin McDonald (131st, 17:41).
Devon Prep's Jack Roth finished 93rd in the Class A meet.