Following the DIAA Division II Boys Cross Country State Championship, Archmere senior John Mascioli stood by the finish line, surrounded by teammates, coaches, family and other Archmere parents.
With his hands on his head, he stood, looking amazed while the gathered crowd wildly applauded him. All he could mutter in this scene was one word — "Wow."
Mascioli, racing for the final time as an Archmere student in a meaningful event, had just set the course record at Brandywine Creek State Park, running a time of 16:13.13 to claim the D-II state title.
The senior Auk said as he was running, he didn't realize how great of a time he was making and was shocked to come around the last turn and see he had a shot at the record.
"I had no idea," Mascioli said. "I thought it was slow, I thought the first mile was very slow. I was just focusing on winning. Nothing in my head was worrying about the time. I think it was just controlling my breathing and trying to stay calm, I think that's what led me to the great surge."
But while the Archmere runner may have surprised himself, his head coach, John Jordan, said he expected a great day out of his top runner.
"He's been automatic this year," Jordan said. "He's done everything he needed to do and he's just run with great runners, so he's had several big races where he's just come up a little bit short and run great races. But today, obviously, his last 600 meters were something else.
Tatnall earns two team titles
While Mascioli's day was certainly one to remember for the individual, all the members of the Tatnall School's boys and girls teams performed exceptionally to push the school to team titles for both squads in Division II.
The boys ran an average time of 16:39, with five of their six runners finishing in the top-10, while the girls came in at an average of 19:25 and also put five runners in the top-10.
Tatnall Head Coach Patrick Castagno was all smiles after the two races, enjoying the feat he just saw his two teams accomplish.
"I have to tell you, this was the best team day we've ever had, boys and girls together," Castagno said. "We couldn't be more pleased with the way we ran as a team today."
It was the group finishes, he said, the helped drive his team to two titles, as the pack running gave Tatnall a major advantage.
"It's just night and day," Castagno said. "It's the biggest advantage in the world to have your kids think of each other and run together as a team. They group up, they pull each other and they're talking to each other during the race. It's huge for us."
Page 2 of 2 - Sallies, Charter claim Division I titles
Paced by top runner Pat Hally, a junior, Salesianum School was able to secure the boys Division I championship, running an average time of 17:17 with four top-10 runners.
It was Hally's performance that was particularly impressive, as he dusted the field with a time of 16:43.91, nearly 25 seconds better than the next finisher.
"I wasn't really sure how the race was going to lay out," he said. "You just never know with states. It's a completely different strategic race than all the other ones. I wish the first mile I had gone a little faster, and that's why I had to take control of the first miles.
"But the second half that was my plan, to take off and distance myself from everyone else."
Meanwhile, Charter School of Wilmington won the girls Division I title with an average time of 20:55, putting three runners in the top 10.