Marlee Starliper's list of accomplishments grew even greater this past weekend when the Northern senior fired off a stunning season debut: a 16:30 to win the Lebanon Valley College Dutchmen Invitational at Union Canal Tunnel Park in Annville, PA.
It was a record run and a terrific start to Starliper's senior year of cross country. Starliper is among the top girls to watch for in the country this year, and will look to mix it up for a national title later this season.
But Saturday was the start at LVC. We dug a little deeper into some of the facts and figures around her season-opening performance.
- It's the fastest girls' cross country 5K in Pennsylvania state history by 13 seconds.
- It's the fastest XC 5K in the United States so far this season by 10 seconds. Sydney Thorvaldson of Wyoming has the No. 2 time at 16:40.
- Lois Brommer of Mechanicsburg Area held the previous Pennsylvania state record with a 16:43 from the Kinney Cross Country Championships (now the Foot Locker National Championships) in 1981, which was held in Orlando, Florida.
- Starliper's previous XC 5K best was 16:50 from the 2017 Carlisle Invitational.
- She would have placed 14th in the boys race at the LVC Dutchmen Invitational.
155 Speed Rating
Starliper's 16:30 was given a speed rating of 155, per TullyRunners. Speed ratings are designed to give an idea of how fast a particular athlete ran at a meet, given that all courses and conditions are different.
For perspective, that is the second best speed rating of Starliper's career. Only her runner-up finish at Foot Locker Northeast last fall was faster. That 17:17 at Van Cortlandt was speed rated at 159. However, that race was run in late November. Saturday's race, of course, is early September.
So while the time is clearly fast, the analytics behind the performance back it up. Anyway you spin it, Starliper's run at Union Canal Tunnel Park was remarkable.
A Much Different Summer
Starliper took a different path to the start line of her first race of the season. In the past, Starliper has ended her outdoor track season in mid-June. Because she competed at the Pan-American U20 Championships held on July 19 in Costa Rica, Starliper didn't have the traditional XC summer of training.
But Starliper planned out her training, so she would only take eight days off after Pan-Ams because she had taken some time off after the USATF U20 Championships a month earlier. She detailed her busy summer for us in a PTXC Journal entry.
Any concerns about her extended track season seem to be erased after Saturday's race at LVC.
Starliper's next two big meets will come at Hershey and then Carlisle in consecutive weeks. She will be off from racing this coming weekend.
At the PIAA Foundation Invitational at Hershey on 9/21, Starliper and her Northern teammates will take on the the state meet course, one that is known for its steep hills. The course record is actually not held by Starliper (yet). Aislinn Devlin's 17:44 from the PIAA State Championships in 2016 is still the new course's best. Expect Starliper to make a run at that record in a week and a half's time.
Carlisle was the site of Starliper's big breakthrough -- a 16:50 in 2017 when she was a sophomore. She didn't race Carlisle last year, going to Paul Short instead. But Starliper will make her return to Carlisle's quick course on 9/28. Weather is always a factor with any outdoor race. Last year, due to heavy rains leading up to race day, there was a major water jump in the middle of the course.
If the weather cooperates, though, Starliper could certainly have a shot to top her own new state record.
It was a tremendous start to Starliper's senior season, and Saturday may just be the beginning of a very special fall.