Russell, DiDonato Win PAISAA Titles

While there were plenty of district meets to go around this week, Saturday also brought us a state meet, the PA Independent Schools Championships, AKA the PAISAA.

At Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, some of the top names in PA XC battled it out for state glory.

Russell wins, Friends' Central rolls to team title

Friends' Central's Lydia Russell has been the class of PAISAA all season long, and so has her team. On Saturday, they showed why.

Russell broke away from the field in the middle mile in the woods and came home for the win in 18:06, a 36-second victory. It's the senior Oregon recruit's fourth win this season. It wasn't as quick as Russell's 17:57 winning time from the Briarwood Invitational at Belmont Plateau, but it was another dominant win for her. It's Russell's first PAISAA XC title.

Russell's said afterwards that she will soon decide whether she will go after NXR or Foot Locker Northeast. But before that, she will head to Argentina for the November 15's WMRA World Mountain Running Championships. She was named to Team USA's Junior (U20) team that will race on a 6.6 kilometer course.

The Friends' Central team took care of business and won the PAISAA title in a run away. The Phoenix scored just 43 points to take the win. Micah Trusty was fifth, followed closely by Rebecca Wusinich, who took sixth.

Germantown Academy edged out Penn Charter for second in team race. GA scored 75 to PC's 76. GA was third in the Inter-Ac, but pulled ahead of Penn Charter and Academy of Notre Dame (fourth at PAISAAs) on Saturday.

Penn Charter's Emma Zwall took second individually in 18:42. Germantown Academy's Isabelle Goldstein took third in 19:05 and Germantown Friends' Annika Marcelis took fourth in 19:20.

DiDonato repeats; Westtown wins a close one

Robert DiDonato defended his state title in dominant form. As a sophomore, DiDonato captured the win by 20 seconds. On Saturday, the junior from Germantown Academy won by 30 seconds and was nearly a minute faster on the same course.

DiDonato went 15:49 for the victory, pulling away early on and cruising to the victory once again. Next up for him will be Foot Locker Northeast, where he'll be a factor for a top ten spot and a berth in nationals.

DiDonato's teammate Matt Sandifer made it a 1-2 finish for GA. Sandifer went 16:22 for a strong race to take runner-up honors.

Hill School's Jamie Olson was third in 16:31 and Friends' Central's Diego Spielman-Rodriguez placed fourth in 16:45.

The team race was one for the ages, as Westtown School snapped Germantown Friends' four year PAISAA winning streak and taking the win by a single point 69-70.

Constantin Carls led the way for Westtown with a fifth place finish in 16:45, while William Nagy took ninth in 16:57 and Aiden Morrison was 14th in 17:20. GFS had its top four come in in consecutive spots from tenth to 13th, but ultimately it was Westtown that came out with the razor thin victory. Carls and Nagy being able to hold off the GFS pack out of the woods proved to be crucial.

Episcopal Academy placed third with 100 points, while Germantown Academy was fourth, also with 100 points, but EA got the advantage with a better sixth runner.