Comments like "state champions" and "best Lehigh Valley team ever" buzzed through the stands of Northern Lehigh High School on Saturday. It was because the Emmaus High Green Hornets had just stung their competition in the girls varsity race of the 13th Annual Bulldog Invitational.
Melissa Meade was 69th in PA as a freshman, and ran 4th for Emmaus 9/16.
But that wasn't the only reason why this team was causing such a stir. The squad's top six runners are freshmen and sophomores and No. 7 is a senior. And to top it off, three of the four frosh are triplets.
On Saturday the youngsters ran what would've at least rivaled Allentown Central Catholic's performance just a year earlier. To refresh, Central Catholic went on to capture last fall's PIAA 3A runner-up title. And that was with six seniors and one freshman.
Meet what could be the Pennsylvania team of the future - the Emmaus girls cross country team of District 11.
Its cast consists of sophomore Lindsey Graybill, who, after out-kicking two of the triplets and District 11 2A champion Alexa Griffiths, is emerging as the team's bullet.
But that's within only a few seconds because after her comes at least two of the triplets - Amanda and Brianna Faust - and sophomore Melissa Meade. Right after them are Kelsey Coates, daughter of Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Budd Coates, and Christina Faust. Rounding out the squad is Beth Luff, sister of 2004 PIAA 3A runner-up Sam Luff.
"If one of us is behind we try to run faster to push the other along," said Christina Faust.
Apparently that plan is working because on Saturday the spread between Graybill and No. 5 Coates was 35 seconds. It was 45 seconds for the top six.
1. Lindsey Graybill 19:37
2. Amanda Faust 19:39
3. Brianna Faust 19:40
6. Melissa Meade 20:08
7. Kelsey Coates 20:12
8. Christina Faust 20:30
15. Beth Luff 21:23
The Bulldog was just the second race for this young squad and the second time this season the girls have found themselves racing mostly each other.
"They understood to be up front and expected to be there," said coach Dan Wessner.
Wessner said he's not talking about down the road too much yet, despite the fact that his team appears pretty level-headed for its age. Part of their maturity stems from the fact that Graybill and Meade were state qualifiers last year. The Fausts and Coates ran on the Emmaus middle school team and at AAUs.
"We're taking it one step at a time," he said. Although he's "run all those scenarios in your head" when it comes to things like comparing his team to the 2005 Central Catholic squad.
"It's still early and they're young," he said. "We're not talking about states stuff yet. We'll see how they react to the Paul Short."