There was no beating Marlee Starliper on Saturday, or any other day this whole season for that matter.
The Northern sophomore reaffirmed what we already knew all season: she is the best runner in the state of Pennsylvania. Starliper went out hard and put away the rest of the field by the mile mark, and then it was all about finishing. She solo'd a 17:50, the fastest time of the day, and won her first career PIAA state championship.
Starliper said she went out harder than she would have liked, which hindered her ability to go after the state record, but the PA#1 was still all smiles as she came into the finish, pointed to the sky and celebrated her victory.
Eastern York's Maddie McLain came across second in 18:42, four spots ahead of her place from a year ago. That closes out a very successful career in the PIAA for McLain. 2016 AA champion Taryn Parks of Greencastle-Antrim was third in 18:50. Sharon freshman Gianna Labbiento was fourth in 18:53.
But up front, it was all Starliper, who put on a show and dazzled those from all around the state who may have been yet to see the state's best run this season.
For a second straight season, Allentown Central Catholic's Emily Deschler took fifth place. Deschler, a senior, who only ran her first big race on October 17, clocked a PR of 19:04. Saint Marys Area's Amanda Foster was sixth and Oley Valley's Rebecca Snyder was seventh.
After a second place finish in 2015 and a third place finish in 2016, Danville Area was hungry for its time atop the state in Class AA. But it would have to get by Villa Maria, a team that won the previous three AA state titles.
But on Saturday, it was Danville Area that stole the show. The Ironmen won its first state title since 1991, scoring 121 points to beat out an upstart Allentown Central Catholic squad and the defending champs from Villa Maria.
Leading Danville was a trio of medalists. Elaina Klinger took 18th in a time of 19:43 to pace the team. Emma Mikita was 24th and Marisa Maffei was right behind her in 25th to make for a strong top three. Nikaela Haas was 67th and freshman Grace Petrick came up with a nice PR of 21:02 in 97th as crucial fourth and fifth runners.
Allentown Central Catholic was second with Emily Deschler taking fifth and her sister Alyssa Deschler was 17th, as the Vikings scored 139 points. Villa Maria, which led at the mile mark, was third with 147 points. Starliper's Northern squad took fourth with 151 points and Scranton Preparatory was fifth with 172 points.