O’Toole and Demis qualify for States


Daelin Brown

Brendan O’Toole keeps up his pace in the District One Boys’ Cross Country race.

On Friday October 27th, two of the boys from the cross country team were able to extend their season a week longer, qualifying for PIAA State Championships. Senior Brendan O’Toole will be returning to Hershey for the second time along with a first-time qualifier, sophomore Noah Demis, to compete at the State Championships.

Today was great. It was what I had been working for the whole season, so it’s a great wrap-up to the season. With only one more race to finish the season off, it’s kind of sad that it’s the last time I will race at Lehigh,” said O’Toole.

After winning the Continental Conference League Championship race last Friday, O’Toole had high hopes for making the qualification for States at the District One race. With an 8th place finish at the District One race, O’Toole secured his spot for the State Championships.

Placing 5th at the Continental Conference League Championship, Demis knew he needed to run one of his best races to make top 25 at Districts to qualify for States. Coming in 37th place, when the runners that qualified as a team were taken out of the top 25, Demis was able to slip in.

“We had a nice day. We had several personal bests for the season, which is really good. We had one athlete fighting a cold and a couple who didn’t have their best day, but that happens sometimes. I was thrilled to see our top two runners have state-qualifying performances. It is very deserving of both of them. Noah and Brendan both ran lifetime best times for 5k, and I can’t say enough about what a great season they’ve had so far. They have worked very hard and are very deserving of this,” said Head Coach Michael Werner.

At the sound of the gun, O’Toole found his way to the front of the pack. Demis trailed behind him, finding himself in the middle of the lead pack from the start. By the end of the first mile, the race still had a huge leading pack of runners. O’Toole was sitting behind two leaders in 3rd place and Demis followed behind in 5th, only 3 seconds apart running 4:58 and 5:01.

“I’m just really happy I made it to states, it feels amazing. I tried to stick with Brendan the whole time, but in the last 100 meters of the race I let a couple people pass me. My strategy is usually the same. I try to relax a little bit when I go out, and then I pick it up later in the race and try to maintain that. I think I did this pretty well overall. Going into States, I just want to try to compete for a state medal and stay with Brendan as long as I can,” said Demis.

As the race continued, the huge pack of runners started to thin out as people dropped back or moved ahead. O’Toole and Demis dropped back a couple places by the end of the second mile. In 7th and 10th place, Demis was still trailing O’Toole.

“Compared to last week, when I just took the race by myself, this week I just sat on people’s shoulders as long as I could. That is probably the same thing I will do at States, I just have to manage the hills better. Now that I know what I’m up against, I’m looking to medal at States, so we will see how high up in the medal contention I am,” said O’Toole.

O’Toole did a good job of maintaining his pace for the last mile. Crossing the finish line in 8th (15:44), he only let one person pass him from the end of mile two. Demis ended up falling behind further and further from Brendan. After letting a couple runners pass him in the last stretch, he crossed the line in 37th (16:18).

“We have a senior and a sophomore, a returning state-qualifier and a first time state-qualifier, so I think the expectations for them are very different. Brendan is looking at improving upon his finish last year and certainly trying to be a state medalist. I think he definitely has a good shot at that. Noah, on the other hand, I’m sure he would love to get a state medal as well, but what he needs to do is go out there and put himself in the race and compete. He mostly needs to get the experience, learn from it, and see if he can get the top 50 or 40 spot. If he can get a medal that’d be terrific, but in the end, for a sophomore to qualify is remarkable. He can get that experience to build upon for not only next year, but also two years from now,” said Coach Werner.

The Knights will be competing this weekend at the PIAA State Championship in Hershey.