Monday November 11, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
CONTRIBUTOR TO A TITLE — Rachel Luczak and Immaculata won a third All-Catholics title in the past four seasons. Photo by Michael Petro.
This title was icing on the cake for coach Charlie Planz and his Immaculata cross-country team.
Already champions in their division at the McQuaid and East Aurora Invitationals, but falling short of a Monsignor Martin regular season title, the Bears supplanted Mount Saint Mary as the top team in the league, in winning the All-Catholics championship.
On a muddy course on Nov. 3 in East Aurora, Immaculata saw five of its runners finish in the top 10, as depth overcame MSM runners’ taking the top two spots in the race. The Bears scored 34 to MSM’s 37, in a close finish, to win a third title in four years. Last year, MSM won on a tiebreaker, after a team dropped its times because it could not field a full squad.
“The girls have run well all season. That was quite a group that came together and ran tough,” Planz said. “It was very, very close. We knew we had to separate their third and fourth runners. The girls ran so tight; the top five finished within 40 seconds of each other.
The Bears finished fourth – sixth, as Katie Simon was Immaculata’s top runner, in 21:58, followed by Rachel Luczak (22:00) and Claire Attea (22:08). Grace Attea was ninth at 22:38 and Mary Kate Simon, 10th (22:38).
Having Claire Attea back was the missing piece to the puzzle for Immaculata, after she missed some of the season with a foot injury and respiratory problems.
Planz credited Attea with overcoming her ailments to contribute. “When you’re dealing with as many speed bumps as she did this year, to be able to get through it, be focused and run the best you could that’s a compliment to her and the way she handled it and kept everything in perspective,” said Planz, who said he looks forward to the Federation championships, featuring the best of the state’s public, private and city schools, which will be run this weekend.