Dry & Faster This Year: Carlisle Invite Preview

Girls' Challenge Race Preview - Carlisle Invitational


A week after setting a course record at Hershey, Marlee Starliper returns to action this week. It's also a return to Carlisle for Starliper, who put herself in the national spotlight two years ago at this meet when she went 16:50 for the win. Now a senior at Northern, Starliper is in a spot to go even faster at Carlisle. She'll be the one to watch and the one to beat in the loaded Challenge Race on Saturday.

She's already run 16:30 this season, dropping the fastest time in state history at LVC. With a few weeks more fitness under her legs, Starliper is ready to roll.

This field is plenty loaded after Starliper, though. Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks and West Chester Henderson's Jenna Mulhern are entered. The pair battled it out for the win last year in some crazy course conditions with Parks taking the win in 17:59 by a second over Mulhern. Mulhern, then a freshman, went on to win the AAA state title. Expect these two -- ranked PA No. 3 and PA No. 4 entering the weekend -- to battle it out once again.

There are plenty other ranked girls in the field, including Carlisle's Sophia Toti, West Chester East's Allyson Clarke and Michaela Schiele, and Northeastern's Margaret Carroll. Others like Downingtown West's Aliza Thir, Unionville's Marcella Krautzel, Red Lion's Gwendolyn Lloyd, Chambersburg's Camryn Kiser, Central Bucks West's Piper Wilson and Julia Flood, State College's Marlee Kwasnica, and Elizabethtown's Katie Locker and Madeline Quinn could make statements in such a deep field.

University (WV)'s Caroline Kirby leads the contingent of out-of-staters in this field. Her teammate Zoe Shetty should be near the front. Kirby won earlier this season on PA soil at Penn State.

With the start time revision, these girls will be free to fly fast in the morning, as opposed to later in the day when the heat starts to kick in (we saw that become a problem at Hershey last weekend). Expect plenty of fast times to go around on a fast, dry course.


The team battle will be a great matchup between plenty of the state's best. Eight of the state's top ten teams are entered in the Champions Race. PA No. 2 West Chester Henderson will make its 5K season debut. Mulhern leads the charge for the Warriors, who second at the state meet in AAA last year. PA No. 3 State College Area is back at this week. Last week, they took second to North Allegheny at Foundation and this will be another big test for the Little Lions. Central Bucks West (PA No. 4) opened up last week with a win at Council Rock. Now we'll see what West has against this solid Carlisle field.

AA power Northern (PA No. 5/PA-AA No. 1) won a close one last week in Foundation's Blue Race. Now the Polar Bears face a AAA-heavy field. PA No. 6 Downingtown West, PA No. 7 Unionville, PA No. 8 Chambersburg, and PA No. 9 Northeastern will also face its deepest fields of the season so far. 

Expect a few shake-ups to the rankings with a major test for all these teams that are beginning to ramp up. University (WV) ran well a few weeks ago at Penn State and should battle well with this field. Millbrook (VA), Cumberland Valley, Carlisle, and West Chester East are among the other strong squads set for the Challenge Race.