A race that figured to be close up front with a number of talented girls, it was the fall's top breakthrough on the girls' side -- Mia Cochran -- that rose to the top in AAA. North Allegheny didn't have its best day, but the Tigers came out victorious for a second straight AAA state title in what was a wild final girls race of the day at Hershey.
It's been a big season for Moon Area sophomore Mia Cochran, and it culminated with a state title on Saturday in a hard-fought AAA girls race. Cochran ran one of the day's two sub-18 times, clocking a 17:53 for the victory.
After taking seventh in the state last year as a freshman, Cochran came out of the gates hard this fall. She was third at the Red, White & Blue Classic before going undefeated after that. She won a big one at the PIAA Foundation Invite before taking her conference title and then a WPIAL title.
Cochran had a lot of momentum and confidence going into Saturday's race. A little after the mile, a pack of four broke free from the rest. That pack included Cochran, defending AAA state champ Jenna Mulhern of West Chester Henderson, Emily Carter of Bethel Park and Hannah Lindgren of North Allegheny. The pack shrunk to Cochran, Mulhern, and Carter at the two mile. In the final loop on the redesigned course, Cochran gained some separation and rode that to the finish to win by 18 seconds.
Carter finished well to take second in 18:11, up nine spots from last year's finish. Mulhern was third in 18:18, still 24 seconds faster than her winning time from 2018. Carlisle's Sophia Toti was fourth in 18:29, just ahead of fifth place Margaret Carroll of Northeastern, who ran the same time. Lindgren came home sixth in 18:49, while Cedar Crest's Gwyneth Young was seventh in 18:51.
The North Allegheny girls made it two-in-a-row in AAA girls, taking home the top spot on the Saturday.
Hannah Lindgren paced the Tigers as she has all season. She was the lowstick taking sixth in the state. Keeley Misutka had another strong showing, placing 11th in 19:03, up a place from her 2018 state meet finish. Maura Mlecko was 62nd in 20:00, Caroline Daggett was 95th in 20:20, and Jenna Mlecko was 116th in 20:30, rounding out the top five scorers for repeat champions.
Ultimately, it wasn't as dominant as NA's 65-point effort last season, where it won by 41 points over second place, but the Tigers got the job done.
State College Area placed second with 152 points, with freshman Marlee Kwasnica leading the way for SC with a 17th place finish in 19:09. Lizzie Gilpatrick was 28th in 19:30 for another low score for the Little Lions.
The next three teams were nice surprises in what turned into a very interesting race for the other spots in AAA. Hershey stepped up in a big way to take third with 164 points. Upper Saint Clair was fourth with 172 points, and Mechanicsburg Area was fifth with 192 points. All three teams had a sub-one minute spread. Hershey improved a great deal as the season went on, taking third at Mid Penns and fourth in District 3. USC was third at WPIALs and their top finisher at states, Claire Hoffman, was 54th, but they had just a 33-second 1-5 gap. Mechanicsburg was fifth at Mid Penns and second at District 3 before its top five state run on Saturday.