Cross country squads began their uphill climbs this past week, capped by a number of outstanding performances at larger meets on Saturday.

The defending PIAA Class AA champion Central Cambria girls were the top squad among the 16 teams in Class AA at the 17th annual Red, White & Blue Classic while their male counterparts were also the top AA boys team among 16 squads.

Senior Nate Kuntz was the top finisher for the Red Devils boys, who had 81 points, just ahead of Indiana (88) and Beaver (119), second and third, respectively. The girls, who were led by sophomore Stella Kuntz, finished with 44 points, well ahead of second-place Greensburg Salem (101) and Villa Maria (109).

There were a total of 342 student-athletes from 17 schools who competed at Saturday’s St. Francis University Red Flash Invitational.

Westmont Hilltop senior Nick Fetzer won the meet with a course record time of 17:01, breaking the previous record of 17:26 set by Bedford’s Van May last year. Mifflin County junior Brayden Harris, finished second and also broke the previous course record with his time of 17:08. May, a junior, the two-time defending meet champion and former course record holder, was third in 17:39.

For the girls, Westmont Hilltop won with 40 points, just ahead of Bedford which had  51. It was the Hilltoppers’ third time competing in the Red Flash Invitational and their first team title.

Mifflin County sophomore Kylee Cubbison was the girls race winner, establishing a new course record of 20:32, breaking the previous record set by Westmont Hilltop’s Ellie Dorian last year.

Hilltoppers junior Bridget Barbato and Bedford freshman Savannah Nesbitt also surpassed the previous course record. Barbato was second with a time of 20:36, Nesbitt took third with a time of 20:47. 

Dorian, a junior was fourth, also improving upon her previous course record with a 21:10.

Football rankings: After three weeks of regular-season play, the only thing that is really clear is that matchups are a key factor in predicting success or failure for any team.

In the District 6 Class A rankings, Portage (3-0) has galloped out to the top spot with 350 points. Bishop Guilfoyle, Saltsburg, Homer-Center, Juniata Valley, Claysburg-Kimmel, Glendale and Northern Cambria are all 2-1 and nipping at the Mustangs horseshoes. Portage travels to Berlin Brothersvalley this week. The Mustangs last beat the Mountaineers in Berlin, 54-0 in 2009.

There are four teams that are 3-0 in Class AA with Bellwood-Antis in the top spot followed by Richland, Marion Center and Ligonier Valley.

There are no unbeaten teams remaining in Class AAA with Bald Eagle Area, Central Cambria and Westmont Hilltop all knotted in the top spot at 2-1, just ahead of Central, also 2-1.

In District 5, Chestnut Ridge holds the No. 1 spot in Class AA followed by Berlin Brothersvalley and Meyersdale. All three squads are 3-0. 

Tussey Mountain is undefeated in Class A while Northern Bedford and Windber are just behind at 2-1.

Cory Isenberg is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5080.​ Follow her on Twitter @CoryIsenbergTD.

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