NEW YORK, NY -- Pennsylvania's top two distance runners from this cross country season proved to be a pair of the region's best on Saturday at Foot Locker Northeast.
Mount Lebanon's Patrick Anderson claimed the win in the Championship boys race, and Northern's Marlee Starliper captured the title in the girls race, completing a PA sweep for the first time in history at Van Cortlandt Park. Anderson and Starliper both clocked the fastest times ever by PA runners at the regional championship.
The wins qualified both to Foot Locker Nationals, set for two weeks in San Diego, California. Two other boys and one other girl also claimed top ten spots to qualify them for nationals in a historic day for the Keystone State on a chilly day in the Bronx.
Starliper Goes No. 2 All-Time At FLNE To Win Again
Marlee Starliper returned to the top of the northeast region on Saturday with a dazzling display on the Van Cortlandt Park course.
The Northern senior waited for her chance to pounce and didn't miss it, beating the defending regional and national champion Sydney Masciarelli of Connecticut. Starliper rolled to the finish to win in 17:03, the second fastest time in meet history. Only Cathy Schiro has run faster at FLNE; the New Hampshire runner went 16:46 in 1984. Starliper's time is the fastest PA time at FLNE in meet history, narrowly topping Lois Brommer's previous state best of 17:04 from 1981.
Starliper won FLNE as a sophomore in 2017, but placed second to Masciarelli last year as a junior. But Saturday was Starliper's day again, as the NC State recruit defeated Masciarelli by 15 seconds. Starliper makes it five of the last seven years that a Pennsylvania girl has won FLNE.
Starliper accepted an "at-large" invitation to Nike Cross Nationals set for this coming Saturday (Dec. 7) in Portland, Oregon, so it will be a busy two weeks for her. Foot Locker Nationals is set for Saturday, December 14.
Anderson Stays Unbeaten & Rolls To Win
The perfect season is still alive for Patrick Anderson. The Mount Lebanon senior made a late move to gain some separation on the field and claim the Foot Locker Northeast crown and remain unbeaten for his senior year.
Anderson, who won his second straight AAA state title earlier this month, went 15:17.0 for the victory. That was the fastest time ever at FLNE by a Pennsylvania boy, topping the time of 15:17.7 by Barry Surchis back in 1983.
Anderson and Connecticut sophomore Gavin Sherry broke away from the field late. Then in the closing stretch, Anderson was able to push past him for the win. It marks Anderson's eighth win of the season in the eight races he's competed in. The UNC signee will be making his second straight trip to San Diego for nationals. He placed sixth last year at FLNE, before going on to take 29th at nationals.
*UPDATE* Anderson was offered an invitation to run at Nike Cross Nationals, but he declined to focus on Foot Locker Nationals.
Cochran, Sands, DiDonato Book Trips To San Diego
Three other Pennsylvania runners booked trips to nationals on Saturday with top ten finishes, so PA will be well-represented in San Diego.
In the boys' race, Penns Valley's Colton Sands placed ninth in 15:33. The junior who won the Class A state title earlier this month, will be making his first appearance in the national meet. Germantown Academy's Robert DiDonato went 15:34 to take the tenth and final nationals spot. DiDonato put forth a big kick in the end to earn that position. Sands' PV teammate Brendan Colwell was 11th in 15:40, narrowly missing a spot in nationals.
Moon Area's Mia Cochran earned the tenth spot in the girls race to book her trip to San Diego. The AAA state champion went 18:10 and kicked past Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks. Parks was struggling across the line after running inside the top ten for most of the race and ended up crossing the line in 11th place.