Gonoude grabs district gold
There was a time in Kyle Gonoude's cross country career when he didn't worry much about race strategies. He would just focus on running fast and passing people and let his talent carry him.
Now a senior in his fourth year of competitive distance running, he's learned to combine his talent with knowledge of the courses, wisdom of how to pace himself and the ability to use other runners to his advantage.
It makes him pretty tough to beat, as Jim Thorpe's Jonathan Condly found out at last week's District 11 Championships.
Gonoude, the Colonial League champ, stayed with Condly, the Schuylkill League champ, until the final turn and the final hill, when Gonoude put 11 seconds between them over the last several hundred yards of the 3.1-mile race to win his second straight Class AA boys title.
"I started trying to push at the 800," said Gonoude "He kept strong with me. I waited until my favorite tree on this course and from there I pushed as hard as I could and came away with the victory.
"I was sitting behind him the whole race. He was fast on the hills, so I was like 'all right, we'll do this your way.'"
Gonoude finished in 16:32.6. Condly came in at 16:43.5.
"He has a really strong kick so he figured he could do that," said Salisbury head coach Doug Hensinger. "He knows what he wants to do and when he wants to do it ahead of time. When he didn't lose the kid after the hill, he went to plan B and just rode him and rode him."
Gonoude, who finished seventh at states last season, hopes to improve on that finish but isn't going to set concrete goals without knowing the field or the conditions he'll be dealing with this Saturday on Hershey's Parkview Course. It's his fourth time running in the state championship meet.
"One race at a time," he said. "After leagues I was like 'all right, time to win the district.' Lets go on to the states and I don't know what to expect up there so we'll just see what happens.
"I am going to hope to [improve on last year's finish], but the field is a lot stronger than last year."
Salibsury's boys team finished 11th in Class AA. Gonoude was followed by teammates Joseph Fainor (36th, 18:22), Greg Fry (49th, 18:44), Samuel Defrank (77th, 19:34), Pete Dubois (87th, 20:11), Cole Warmkessel (94th, 20:29) and Ryan Fainor (113th, 22:24).
Salisbury's girls team was also led by a Gonoude. Kyle's sister, Kelly, took 15th place and earned a trip to states next week.
Kelly Gonoude ran the race in 20:34.3. She ran faster than a year ago when she placed ninth in 20:43 to earn a district medal.
"I'm so happy I made it," said Kelly Gonoude. "I wanted to improve my time, which I did. I wanted to make top 10. I missed it by a few spots, but since my time was better I'm still happy with my performance. And I made it to states, as well, which was my main goal."
Having run the difficult Parkview Course last year, Kelly Gonoude is looking forward to going back in her final high school season.
"Last year I was just happy to be there," she said. "This year I have something to work off of. I want to improve my time and possibly even my place."
The rest of Salisbury's finishers in the girls district race were Sydney Utesch (56th, 23:17), Brooke Rogers (69th, 24:04), Ruby Weiner (75th, 24:31), Holly Szita (86th, 25:43), Meghan Raub (89th, 25:56) and Hannah Marze (104th, 32:46).
Central's Colleen Daday (19:17.4) won the girls race as Vikettes finished in the first three places. However, Northwestern's girls took the Class AA team title with their top five runners all placing between 11th and 19th.
Central Catholic took the boys Class A team title.
Notre Dame (East Stroudsburg) swept the Class A team titles. The Class A girls race was won by Marian Catholic's Tina Capparell (19:57) and the boys race by Moravian Academy's Sam Li (17:42).
Easton swept the Class AAA team titles as three-time champ Colin Abert (15:43) won the boys race and Liberty's Raisa Kochmaruk (19:11) finished first in the girls run.