Two Penn College Teams Defending Conference Titles
Pennsylvania College of Technology men's cross-country and coed tennis teams are defending their Penn State University Athletic Conference championships this weekend.
Led by freshman sensation Jake Shedden (Canton), who is unbeaten in conference meets and has broken numerous course records in the process, the cross-country team is seeking its eighth straight title while the tennis team, paced by defending individual champs Shane Burridge (Ephrata) and Danielle Trout (Harrisburg), is vying for its third consecutive team crown.
Cross-Country"Of all the (great runners) we've had in recent years, Jake is the best that the college has had up to this point. He's in a class by himself, especially in the league that we are in," Wildcats coach Mike Paulhamus said. "He's a phenomenal young runner."
Other top Penn College men are Travis Cain (Bloomsburg), Seth Beckman (Linden) and Corvin Oberholtzer (Wellsboro).
"I don't think they've peaked yet. I think they are another week from hitting their plateau and that will work into the national championship meet in a couple of weeks," the coach said.
"I think we are the dominant team, but I say that with hesitance because a couple of guys could go off-course and that would change everything. If everybody runs like they are supposed to, they should bring another league championship home," Paulhamus said.
With only three runners, Penn College doesn't have enough women to field a team, but Paulhamus expects high finishes for senior Tamara Pavlov (Lewisburg), who was an individual champ in 2007; Shannon Abercrombie (Roaring Branch) and Ashley Hetrick (Clearfield).
"Tamara has been our No. 1 girl all season long and she's been running strong. She's been closing the gap on the No. 1 girl in the league and I feel confident she will at least take second," Paulhamus said.
The women, who race at 1 p.m. Saturday, will run a 2.99-mile course, and the men, who race at 1:30 p.m., will run a 5.3-mile course at Penn State Mont Alto.
"It's a difficult course. It's really hilly. It's nothing that we haven't dealt with this year and, actually, we have a pretty good hill-running team," Paulhamus said.
Thus far this season, the Penn College men are 13-0 in conference meets and 37-10 overall.
TennisBurridge took the PSUAC No. 1 men's singles title the past two years and Trout was tops at No. 2 women's singles a year ago. Burridge and now-graduated teammates also were No. 1 men's doubles champs the past two years and Trout teamed with Rachel Emmons (Washington, N.J.) for the No. 1 women's doubles crown a year ago, but those four are only part of the Wildcats' strength this season. Rob Kemrer (Milton) won at No. 4 men's singles in 2007 and, like Trout, is unbeaten this season.
"We're facing some pretty tough competition in Penn State York and Penn State Brandywine," assessed coach Aimee Plastow. York finished the season 11-1 while Penn College was 8-4 and Brandywine 9-3. The rest of the conference's teams all had losing records.
"Individually, Shane probably is facing the toughest competition he has faced in his career," Plastow said of her No. 1, adding that Brad Fisher (Montoursville) and Jacob Kuska (Mohnton), at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, stand good chances of taking titles, as does Kemrer at No. 4. Burridge and Adam Groff (Washington Borough) will play at No. 1 men's doubles and Kemrer and Alex Clemens (Lebanon) at No. 2 men's doubles. Emmons will be at No. 1 for the Lady Wildcats and Trout at No. 2 in singles. They also will team in doubles.
"It's going to be a small conference tournament. A couple of the schools are not sending teams," Plastow said of action Saturday and Sunday at Penn State University's Sarni Tennis Center. "Because of that, the draws are going to be smaller and you're not going to get a chance to have any easy first-round matches," Plastow said.