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Rookie Bierling helps Bonner & Prendergast eke out Catholic League title by single point

Bonner & Prendergast had waited a long time to celebrate a Catholic League Girls Cross Country Championship.

The drought is over.

Senior Jenna Rastatter placed second, and freshman Hailey Bierling’s 13th-place finish pushed the Pandas to their first championship since 2000, edging Cardinal O’Hara by a point, 42-43.

“We were either going to win it or finish second,” said Bonner & Prendie coach Kevin Kee. “I told them we need three in the top 10, five make All-Catholic (top-15 finish) and for sixth and seventh to be right there and that’s what they went out and did.”

O’Hara’s Elizabeth Mancini struck gold with a top time of 18:41.40. The Lions, who had won the previous four Catholic League titles, were missing top runners Eleanor and Christine Mancini due to injuries.

Rastatter clocked in at 20:10.80, while O’Hara’s Katie Till took third with a time of 20:32.40. Bierling’s time of 22:13.40 was the difference for the Pandas.

“Corrina (O’Lock), Maggie (Salter) and Hailey (Bierling), the two sophomores and a freshman, were the key,” Kee said. “They gave us the points we needed to win.”

Senior Samantha Gilwa claimed sixth place, O’Lock ended up 10th and Salter was 11th. O’Hara’s Jaela Jones crossed the finish line in 12th place.

Bonner & Prendie was fourth in the team standings in Kee’s first year and third last season.

“We’ve been moving up every year to go after that plaque,” Kee said. “We still had a bitter taste in our mouths from last year and they went above and beyond, led by the two seniors.”

Archbishop Carroll did not figure in the team standings. The top-15 finishers earn First Team All-Catholic honors.

Buoyed by Tom McNicholas (eighth place) and Jack Becker (ninth), the Cardinal O’Hara boys totaled 58 points to take second at the Catholic League Championships.

La Salle won the team title with 15 points. The top five finishers were all Explorers.

Bonner & Prendergast’s Anthony Harper came in sixth place with a time of 16:58.30. The Friars were sixth overall in the standings.

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