Above: Virginia Kraus discusses her transformation and second straight 1A title.
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Virginia Kraus made it two straight state titles, securing the win in her sophomore year. Though she's only a sophomore, she looks like a seasoned vet out there, and she was the class of the field on Saturday.
Kraus spent most of the Spring out with a leg injury. She could not compete for the spring season, and we questioned her availability for the Fall. But she put those doubts aside when she came out and ran 17:42 at the Northampton Invitational on September 2nd.
She has been the most dominant girl in the state this season, and she is undefeated now through seven Invitationals and Championships.
Afterward, Kraus seemed somewhat discontent with her time. Just by the first road crossing, she had slipped in the opening quarter mile. She got her legs crossed up and went down. Her adrenaline shot back up, but she re-settled into the race. Her opening mile was 5:50, a bit slower than initially intended.
But it didn't matter; Kraus won the first mile and every mile after that, crossing the finish in 18:50.
Grace Neubert discusses her race and the Elk County Catholic Girls
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Grace Neubert and Lexi Fluharty battled for position behind her. The two switched positions throughout the opening two miles before Neubert started pulling away in the final mile. The two were evenly matched, both being hill runners with a lot of experience under their belts.
Neubert was able to create some distance on the late flats before pushing the final uphill. She crossed the line at 19:14, and Fluharty crossed at 19:28.
With Sami Straub's sixth-place finish, Elk County Catholic made it three girls in the Top 10.
A Thriller between NDGP and ECC
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Through the first mile, Notre Dame Green Pond led 68-85 over ECC. Though Elk County Catholic had three in the top 10 points-paying positions, Notre Dame Green Pond had six in the top 25 points-paying positions.
Through to the end, that never really changed for Notre Dame Green Pond. After all was said and done, they still had six girls in the top 25 points-paying positions, and they had only lost three points over that span. They finished with a total of 71.
But ECC's No. 4 and No. 5 runners had made up the ground. From the first mile to the finish, Gianna Bille made up 21 spots, ten of which were points paying. Katie Straub made up 11 spots, seven of which were points paying. Ultimately, those 17 points made the difference for Elk County Catholic, and the team secured the 63-71 victory.
Winchester Thurston, Seneca, and Northeast Bradford finished in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, with 190 points, 192, and 243. Northeast Bradford used tiebreaking criteria to beat out Cranberry for the fifth spot.
Top 5 Teams (Full Results)
|1||Elk County Catholic||63||2+3+4+14+40 (70+82)||3:23 1-5 Split | 20:28 Avg|
|2||Notre Dame Green Pond||71||9+12+15+16+19 (24+38)||0:44 1-5 Split | 20:59 Avg|
|3||Winchester Thurston||190||10+20+27+50+83 (140+153)||3:10 1-5 Split | 22:09 Avg|
|4||Seneca||192||26+32+35+37+62 (79+96)||1:38 1-5 Split | 22:22 Avg|
|5||Northeast Bradford||243||8+48+49+53+85 (97)||3:35 1-5 Split | 22:40 Avg|