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Mueller, Peters compete at States
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Although Ben Mueller felt his effort was the same as it was at Districts, the Warwick junior’s time of 5:12 at the one-mile point was actually about 10 seconds slower on Saturday.
That was the story of Mueller’s day at the PIAA State Triple-A Cross Country Championships.
His heart was willing, but his legs weren’t.
Competing on the same hilly, demanding course which hosted the District Three Championships just 10 days earlier, Mueller finished the 5K race in 167th place in 17:44 at Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey. It was 36 seconds slower than his time the prouldn’t evious week.
"I felt like I could have done better," Mueller said. "My legs were just really tired today. My aerobic felt good and everything, but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster today."
Asked if running the same challenging course for a second week in a row affected him, Mueller said, "I think that’s part of it and at the end of the season, you’re just getting worn down and everything else. Everyone else is probably feeling somewhat the same thing today – it’s just they probably handled it a little bit better than I did."
Ideally, Mueller was hoping to place in the top 50 in addition to improve his time from Districts.
"Not being able to beat my time from Districts is disappointing," Mueller said. "That was kinda my goal coming into today. Last year, the top 50 was right below 17 (minutes) and that was my goal time-wise too."
"Ben’s goal was very high," Warwick coach Jenny Sassaman said. "He sets it for himself, he’s a self-motivated kid. I just love him. I don’t have to tweak him or get him ready for anything. He just does it. He’s focused and he was ready for today. You only have so many good races to pop. Ben had the race I was looking for last week and I can’t ask for anything more than that. Not at all."
From the vantage point of Sassaman, Saturday’s race offered another argument that things need to change for District Three runners in the post-season.
"District Three coaches have been beating on the PIAA to not do this course two weeks in a row," Sassaman said. "It is completely unfair to District Three. Where could that be? The coaches have given many, many suggestions and we have to go through this frustration a lot. You have to gamble which race you want to do. You either do Districts or you do States. That’s where District Three is right now."
Fortunately, for Mueller, he still has the opportunity to return to States again in 2012.
"We’re only getting warmed up," Sassaman said.
Manheim Central’s Danae Peters might only be just getting warmed up in her career. The Lady Barons’ sophomore finished 62nd out of 285 runners in 19:58 in the PIAA State Triple-A Championships on Saturday at Parkview.
That marked a seven-second improvement from her race in the District Championships, where she finished 16th in 20:05.
"She ran a good race and she had a good season and next year, we’ll shoot for top 20," Manheim Central coach Shane Adams said. "What an experience for her and it’s been three years since we’ve had somebody in the State Meet (Brogan Garvey in 2008). It’s been a long time, so it’s nice to be back."
Adams thought Peters ran more relaxed at States and he credited that as a reason for her faster time.
"In the League Meet and District Meet, maybe there was a little more pressure on herself," Adams said. "Last week, we talked about just having fun and racing it and not running that first mile too fast."
On Saturday, Peters reached the one-mile point in 5:55, seven seconds slower than her time of 5:48 at Districts. Then she was three seconds faster at the two-mile point (12:23) at the State Meet and her final overall pace of 6:26 was just ahead of her 6:28 from the District Championships.
Manheim Central is also hoping that Peters’ experience at States as a sophomore will pay off down the road as well. Anything she achieved on Saturday was viewed as icing on the cake.
"To get here is a great accomplishment, but whatever she did today is an accomplishment and then we build off today for next season so she knows what to expect," Adams said. "Hopefully, we have more than just her (at States in 2012). That would be cool too." More MUELLER, page B-3