West Chester Henderson
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Both the boys and girls top ranked teams in PA had comfortable tune up performances to get them ready for next week's district championships.
US#2 Unionville cruised to a repeat of their league championship with five of the first eight runners to score 22 points to win by 54 over Downingtown West. Courtney Smith repeated as champion, running a quick 18:00-even to win by 40 seconds over up and coming freshman Aislinn Devlin of Downingtown West. Missing from the Unionville line-up was front-pack regular Emily Fisher, who was "under the weather," and will be needed for far bigger races over the coming weeks.
Smith says the race plan was to let Devlin set the pace through the mile to mile and a half. "It was nice to have someone to run with and the pace was comfortable, but fast." It was at that point that Smith says she simply kept her pace, and that is where she pulled away. Smith says the Unionville girls are looking forward to the fast Lehigh course "to all set PR's."
Unionville head coach Mark Lacianca says they have trained through the last two weeks with the big Manhattan Invitational and their league meet. "After Manhattan, we were a little beat up, so we decided to back off a little today and just take care of business." The team, he says, is aiming to peak in late November and early December (for NXN regionals and NXN Nationals), so it fits nicely with their later start on workouts which began in late September.
The West Chester Henderson boys had five of the first nine runners with a 1-5 spread of only 11 seconds led by a 2nd place finish from Tony Russell and a 3rd place performance from Eric Stratman. Henderson finished with 28 points to win by over 60 points.
West Chester East did have the individual gold medal winner in Chris Cummings. The senior ran 16:03 to win and kick off his late season with a bang! Cummings was not even on the radar of the top of the returners, but a great summer of focus and miles has put him in the mix. His only invitational loss of the season is to O'Hara star Kevin James at the Bulldog Invite at Rose Tree Park. He has now won three big meets, including breaking the course record of legendary O'Hara runner Steve Hallinan at Abington on September 7th, and then taking the Gold Race at the PIAA Foundation race on the state course on September 21st. Cummings credits not just the mileage, but the consistent level of high caliber of competition in the Ches-Mont league. "No matter where you go, there's always another great runner around." He is hoping to be in the mix for the District 1 AAA title on October 25th at Lehigh.