HERSHEY – Like any good runner, Dominic Deluca kept focusing on his team. Minutes from a state championship, the Dallas senior wanted another shot to crack 16 minutes.
Deluca won the PIAA Class 2A boys cross country individual championship, leading a pack of 226 runners after 5K Saturday at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey. Deluca finished the race well ahead of the competition with a 15-second lead over the field.
The Dallas runner finished with a final time of 16:21. He ran a pace of 5:16.
“I just wish I could have been running in the 3A race,” Deluca said. “I know that if I was up against some of those runners that I’m familiar with, I could have cracked 16 minutes.”
Deluca pulled ahead of Bedford’s William Kachman on the first split and saw open fields ahead for the remaining two miles.
“I took a couple of gears off and put it in cruise control after that,” he said. “I really got ahead in the first mile and never looked back.”
Deluca credits his coach Matt Samuel for building his familiarity with the course.
“Our coach has it down to the t,” Deluca said. “He claims he has every course down, and he seems to know every turn. I don’t know how he does it.”
Trailing Deluca was a familiar friend and foe in Lake-Lehman’s Dominic Hockenbury. The sophomore Black Knight took second with a 16:36 with a 5:21 pace. Hockenbury said got to within five seconds of his Back Mountain running partner but could not push ahead in the final mile.
“Before the race, I told him ‘let’s go one and two,’” Hockenbury said. “The order doesn’t matter. The district showed up.”
Hockenbury excelled on the hills and used the course’s more difficult features to his advantage. Following a rocky start that featured a lot of pushing and shoving, he was third after the second mile. Hockenbury said he noticed Kachman struggling on the hills and stepped up to pass him before the final stretch.