Pictured - Sophia Rodriguez at the Henderson Invitational - photo by Ryan Comstock
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The future is bright for girls' distance running in PA.
This year, according to our database, 17 middle school girls have broken 5:30 (1600m), and 18 have broken 2:30 (800m).
Headlining the group is undoubtedly Sophia Rodriguez (Dallastown Middle School). This weekend, she ran a 10:17.43 3200m at the Altoona Middle School Championship. For perspective - that time would rank 26th nationally amongst High School girls.
Her 10:17 is one of the fastest times in Eighth Grade history and smashed a 41-year-old stadium record at Altoona's Mansion Park.
Above: Rodriguez poses with the old stadium record
But Rodriguez isn't the only middle schooler running fast.
Mackenzie Skelly (Penn Charter) and Annabelle Steckel (Germantown) dueled at the Inter-AC Middle School Championships last week, throwing down 1600m times of 5:03.47 and 5:05.15. Skelly, just a sixth grader, got the victory, but both girls scored huge wins in the time department.
Their times rank amongst the Top Five times ever entered into our database. If running with the high schoolers, they would currently rank 22nd and 29th in the state.
Skelly returned in the 800m at the Inter-AC Championship to win with a 2:24.05.
Meanwhile, Angela Zeng of South Fayette Middle School ran 2:24.66 at the Moon Area Middle School Invitational. The seventh grader gapped the field and ran away from three eighth graders, Cecilia Ressler (Fox Chapel Middle School), Sonya Taylor (Moon Area), and Caylie Wilkinson (Fox Chapel Middle School), who all finished within .07 of each other at 2:30.
These girls have a lot of competitive running ahead of them and will make a splash when they enter the high school ranks.