The Big South Conference Championships were hosted by Ringgold at Mingo Park.
Ringgold Junior, Kirsten McMichael wins the girls varsity race in 19:31, setting a new school record, and leads her team to a Conference Title. Ringgold freshman Sarah Lucas takes 2nd in 21:13, and Ringgold sophomore Janika Hutton places 5th, with a time of 21:50.
Ringgold Junior, Noah Smith claimed the individual title in the boys varsity race with a time of 17:01 over the hilly course. Chartiers Valley won the Conference Team Championship Title with 25 points.
Cumberland Valley sophomore Mady Clahane took her running career to a new level at the Carlisle Invitational - beating a returning Foot Lock Finalist, and setting the fastest time on new course or old in the 21st edition of the Carlisle Invitational. Her 17:28 was 30 seconds better than University's (WV) Amelia Paladino, who had to out-kick Downingtown West freshman Aislinn Devlin earn 2nd place in 17:58. Devlin's one point help immensely as Downingtown West was a 32-point winner over Delaware's Padua Academy with 116.
While not entirely surprised with her big win, Clahane is even more surprised with the "big chunks" she has been slicing off her times this season. "This is way more than I envisioned. I'm surprised this is happening." She said he strategy was simply to stay with Paladino, until at two miles, it was just the two of them. "I just kept running my pace and pulled away." As for Paladino, she wished she had been more aggressive at the start. "She broke away, and I didn't have it," she said. "It happens."
In the boys Challenge race, Carlisle junior Zach Brehm defended his home turf in a very fast 15:28. "There were lots of guys I didn't know, so I sat back and watched, and when the pack starts to break up, that's when I roll and as my coach says, 'pick up the pieces'." Going out in 4:45, about eight seconds behind the lead pack, Brehm used the small hill by the middle school after the halfway point to move up. At two miles, he and Germantown Academy's Sam Ritz were just behind the lead pack, and with 800 to go, he hit the next gear. He did glance back on the final straight, but said he knew he had "another gear" if needed.
Both West Chester Henderson and Tatnall DE came in nationally ranked, and it was PA#2 Henderson that made the loudest statement, winning 88 to 144. Most impressively, they were without their number 1 runner, Tony Russell, who was on a college visit. Tatnall did place two in front of Henderson's #1 on the day, Reiny Barchet, 10th in 15:57, but with Henderson's next four within 21 seconds of Barchet, the scoring was wrapped up. Henderson head coach Kevin Kelly says the guys were excited to see where they were without Tony, and a 21-second 2-6 spread showed they are ready for their next big test - in the Eastern States race in two week at the Manhattan Invitational.
In the girls Champions race, West Potomac VA senior Katie Genuario won her first invite of the year comfortably, going 18:41. Her coach told her to go out in the top 15 and at mile and a half, she was up front and thought to herself "it was time to go." She got her PR by ten seconds. York Suburban, behind sophomore Olivia Gettle in 4th, won the team title by 17 over Upper Dublin. West Potomac was 3rd.
In the boys Champions race, defending team champions Radnor was led by the 1st and 3rd finishes of junior Connor Holm and senior Watson Hanson. The pair went 16:04 and 16:12, respectively, leading their team to a 3rd place finish. Holm said that the entire team had faster times this year, but the teams were better this time around. West Potomac beat Holy Ghost Prep by eight for the team title.
Casey Comber of Hatboro Horsham gave Ross Wilson of Council Rock North all he could handle on Wilson's home course, but in the end, the senior defended his home turf with a time of 15:50, 7 seconds better than Comber, a seasonal best for the junior. Chris and Matt Kazanjian of Penncrest finished 3rd and 4th respectively. Council Rock North also were on the good end of a close team title race against Twin Valley. A 41 second spread was not enough to overcome Council Rock North's 3 finishers in the top eight team scorers. Rock North came away with the tile 73-82 over an up and coming Twin Valley side.
For the girls, Jerrica Bauer of George School has become a solid and consistent runner under the radar, and today was no exception. The sophomore ran 18:40 to hold off sophomore Maddie Villalba of Central Bucks West. Kaelyn Heineke of Council Rock North finished 3rd. The top three all broke the 19 minute mark. Central Bucks West made easy work of the field in the team title race. The sqaud in black had three in the top ten and seven in the top 25 overall to score 50 points to win by 46 over hosts Council Rock North.
Plum High School edged out the duo of Bethel Park and Franklin Regional 62-81-82 to win the boys team championship. Jake Suasalla (2nd) and Alan Yocca (6th) led the way for the winners. Individual honors went to Nate Edenfield of Uniontown, running 16:31 to successfully defend his home course by 11 seconds. For the girls, Greensburg Salem defeated Franklin Regional 63-82 led by a 5th place finish from Laura Rosner. Franklin Regional were led by individual winner Bria McMahon, who ran a solid 18:56 to win by 14 seconds over Julie Gerber of Uniontown.
Delaware Valley traveled to Bowdoin Park in NY and finished 15th in both the varsity boys and girls races. Noah Toussiant was the top finisher for the guys. Frosh Dakota Campbell was first for the Delaware Valley girls.
Sebastian Curtin of Mercyhurst Prep continued his invitational winning streak with another victory at Cochranton. Curtin ran 16:03 to take the individual title, 14 seconds ahead of Saegertown's Morgan Schenberg. Schenberg's team did dominate the field on their way to the team title, placing three in the top five to score 43 points and win by 66 over West Middlesex. For the girls, Krisen White of West Middlesex won a tough dual with Reilly Walsh of Cambridge Springs to take the individual gold with a time of 19:35. Her performance also led three in the top 13 to win the team title over Hickory 72-91.
Baldwin boys travelled all the way to Virginia to seek silverware and they came away with a solid performance in the boys Silver race. Led by a 5th place finish from Dennis Doyle in 16:58, Baldwin finished in 3rd place with a score of 112 points, only 17 points off the top spot. Baldwin's 54 second spread also played a strong role in the team performance. Canon-McMillan finished only 6 points behind Baldwin in 4th 118 points, led by a 3rd place finish by Ethan Linderman in 16:49. Canon-McMillan's girls squad got a 3rd place finish of their own in the girls silver race. They scored 146 points with two in the top ten. Madison Grudi finished 7th in 20:57 and Riles Leisman finished 9th in 20:58.
PA#1 Unionville beat 7-time NXN champions Fayetteville-Manlius 45-79 in the featured, seeded race, putting five ahead of FM's four, and eight ahead of FM's five. Unionville head coach Mark Lacianca told PennTrackXC that they went to the meet to "prove that we belong." Continuing, Lancianca said that the girls had been nervous the night before, but that the team talked about taking advantage of opportunities. "The girls followed the race plan to perfection," he continued. "Courtney (Smith) was about 7th at the mile in 5:31, and at two miles, and then finished alone in 16:46.2, the fastest time on the day and just a second off Weisner's course record from last year.
Smith followed the Unionville plan, which is to run your pace and push the last part of the race. "Around the mile I caught the lead pack. By a mile-and-a-half, I had worked my way up to second, and I took the lead a little before the two mile (11:11)."
In an earlier race, Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner posted a solo effort of 16:54.6. "It's a shame Kennedy and Courtney did not run in the same race," Lacianca said.
Maplewood's Jeremy Parsons won the Boys Varsity A Race in 15:19.5. (Right in photo by Kyle Brazeil)
In other PA results...District 10 Villa Maria Academy girls were boosted to a 4th place finish in the seeded A race with a score of 175 points with a solid 40 second spread. Claire Brown ran 19:07 to finish 24th. Their 2nd seven ran the Unseeded A-3 race and earned a runner up team finish with 149 points. Amy Messina ran 19:52 to finish 13th overall. North East finished 1 point behind Villa Maria in the seeded A race to earn 5th with 175 points. Emma Verdonik finished 5th overall in the race with a time of 18:09. Montrose had four in the top 25 to finish 2nd in the Unseeded A-2 race with 111 points. Allison Lewis ran 19:22 to finish 9th overall. Oakland Catholic finished 4th in the unseeded AA race with 168 points. Lauren Finikiotis finished 12th overall with a time of 19:04.
For the boys, Northeast Bradford continued their successful season with a 2nd place finish in the seeded A race, scoring 96 points to only trail team champions East Aurora by 12 points. The top five finished 56 seconds apart and were led by the 9-10 finish of Brandon Devonshire (15:59) and Levi Upham (16:00). North East finished 8th in the same race with 208 points. Gary Olson ran 15:48 to finish 4th overall. Northern Potter boys joined Unionville girls as team champions, taking the unseeded A-3 race with a score of 100 points with four scorers in the top 25 overall. Ethan Kibbe finished 8th in 16:21 for the team champions. Gabe Trimbur of Coudersport finished 2nd in the same race with a time of 15:58.
The Shikellamy sister duo of Treicy (19:24) and Yoangelys Cedeno (19:35) finished 1-2 in the girls race at Bloomsburg University. This marks the 2nd time they have finished 1-2 in an invitational this season. Mackenzie Jones finished behind the sister duo, but her performance led her team to the team title over Holy Cross by a narrow score of 73-79. Danville were boosted by four finishers in the top twenty to counter the 5-6-7 finish of the top three finishers for Holy Cross.
For the boys, Danville were involved in another close team title race, except this time they were on the wrong end of the scoreline. Mount Carmel edged out the district 4 sqaud 68-75 with both teams placing their scoring five in the top 25 team places. Individual honors went to South Williamsport's Griffith Molino, who ran 16:13 to win by 28 seconds.
Archbishop Wood returned to Rhode Island for their annual trip, with the girls looking to earn their 2nd team championship at this meet. Megan Connell ran 18:50 to finish 6th for the Vikings and her performance led the team to a 3rd place finish in the championship race with 149 points. The boys of Archbishop Wood cracked the top five in the Division 2 race with a score of 168 points with two runners in the top 15. Andrew Flinn (16:53) and Kyle Ortiz (17:05) led the way for the young district 12 squad.
For the boys, Hempfield finished 6th in the varsity A race with 219 points and were led by a 10th place finish from Justin Yurchak in 16:51. Pottsgrove finished 11th in the Varsity D race with 231 points and were led by a 20th place finish from Brendan Wurtz in 17:47.
Two of District 1's state qualifying contenders looked for a change of pace in their season and a positive boost to get them back into form.
North Penn has struggled with their big rivals and recent bogey squad Central Bucks East. In 3 appearances against the Patriots, North Penn have been 2nd best on each occassion. The Six Flags invitational is a new tradition for the sky blues and Saturday was a great opportunity for them to win a team title at the cross country festival for the first time.
North Penn has had a solid front three this season and Saturday was no different. Ali Valenti (in photo by Patty Morgan) hung on with the lead runner from the mile mark and did all she could to keep pace. In the end, she earned a 2nd place finish in 18:47. Brianna Mengini pushed for 4th place in 19: 04 and Phoebe Clowser wrapped up three North Penn finishers in the top 6 with her 6th place performance of 19:16. Running like a team in the front three is something the team hopes will help them push forward in the 2nd half of the season.
"If we're going to qualify for states, we have to run together as a team, "said senior Phoebe Clowser. "The other contenders have very talented girls and we need to rise to the challenge that they will be presenting."
Part of that team togetherness is having the 4th and 5th runners finish off the hard work of the front 3. Jenna Reimer was the 4th finisher for North Penn (18th overall) and Colleen McGovern wrapped up the team scoring with a 27th place finish. North Penn had their five scorers finish within 89 seconds of one another and that was enough to win the team title with 58 points and win by 7. This was the first time North Penn had won a team title at the Six Flags Invitational. Their best finish prior to Saturday was a 3rd place finish in 2012.
McGovern admitted that as nice as the win was, they have one eye on the big dual meet with CB East on Wednesday.
"CB East has a lot of really good girls," said the senior. "They've been tough for us to beat this season, but hopefully we can close the gap a little bit as we get closer to districts."
CB East will be one of the teams North Penn will be going head to head against for one of the five district 1 AAA state qualifying spots. Another squad that will be in the mix with them will be Strath Haven.
Strath Haven were a long shot in 2012 to make the state championship finals in Hershey, only to find a way to put it all together and snag the final team spot. With four members of that state team back, confidence is high for the Delaware County squad.
Making their first appearace to Six Flags, Strath Haven were looking for something different compared to the demanding Hershey course they faced at the PIAA Foundation Race last week. Some of the runners found the course a little tougher than advertised.
"There were more hills on this course that we thought there would be," shared the varsity team. "The hills also had some soft sand mixed in with the dirt terrain, making the hills an even tougher challenge. That and the increasing heat and sun as the race progressed made it a tougher course."
Despite that, Strath Haven went out aggressively on the flat and looping opening mile to pretty solid effect. The squad earned a solid 2nd place finish with 73 points, just missing out on the team title by 15. Abby Kennedy (in photo by Patty Morgan) was the lone runner for Strath Haven to break up the foursome of team champions Tappan Zee. Kennedy ran 19:49 to finish 8th. Maia Mesyngier finished 12th with Sam Snyder, Claire Wolters and Sara Peeleman also earned top 20 finishes and the top five finished 58 seconds apart when it was said and done.
The Six Flags race was a tune up for next week's Paul Short Run, a meet with high importance for the Panthers. With four seniors on the sqaud, Strath Haven hope that experience will prevail over younger talented teams.
Flash Summary: North Penn and Strath Haven represented PA very well through the safari of Six Flags Great Adventure. Both district 1 squads finished in the top two in their respective races. North Penn had three in the top six in the Varsity A race to earn a narrow 58-65 victory and their first team title at the meet. Strath Haven finished 2nd in the Varsity C race with 73 points, which was 15 points behind Tappan Zee who had four in the top 10 overall. Ali Valenti finished 2nd in the Varsity A race for North Penn in 18:47.