UPPER PROVIDENCE — The T-shirts the Strath Haven athletes were wearing after the 55th Delaware County Cross Country Championships at Rose Tree Park Saturday read “Haven Runs Delco.”
For the first time since 2013, the Panthers have a girls team that can claim the title of Delco champion after Haven posted a score of 36 to outdistance Notre Dame (95) and Garnet Valley (132) for the team crown.
Strath Haven ended Cardinal O’Hara’s four-year run at the top of the meet, a stretch in which the Panthers placed second all four years.
Haven senior Grace Forbes cruised to victory in 18 minutes, 42 seconds, almost one minute and 30 seconds ahead of runner-up Sophie Cohen, a Penncrest freshman.
Senior Abby Loiselle (third), sophomore Paige Day (10th), and senior Sierra Hellman (10th) joined Forbes among Strath Haven’s top 10 finishers. Junior Ava Crawford (16th place) was the Panthers’ other scorer.
Christine Mancini of Cardinal O’Hara (fourth) and Elicia Moore of Penn Wood (fifth) joined Forbes, Cohen, and Loiselle in the top five.
“Grace has been running great,” Strath Haven coach Bill Coren said of Forbes. “Abby beat Christine (Mancini) today after finishing 20 seconds behind her in a race earlier this year. Paige Day was 81st in the JV race last year, and Sierra Hellman was 36th in the JV race last year.”
Forbes became the first Strath Haven individual champion since Hannah Grossman won for the second consecutive time in 2011.
“This is the first time I ran this race,” said Forbes, who played soccer for three years before deciding to run cross country in August. “After the first 800, I said this was going too slow for me and I went out.
“When we were here the other day, I saw what the course looked like and I knew what I had to do in the area where the course was so muddy.”
Loiselle spent last season battling injuries.
“It was so tough watching the others doing their work and going out and getting better, knowing that I couldn’t run like I wanted to,” the senior said. “I’ve really been working hard and am happy to be able to run again.
“The first mile was fast, and I wanted to be ready for the hills that were coming up.”
Cohen, who also is an outstanding tennis player, admitted that there was a lot she learned from her first Delco Meet.
“Today I went out faster than usual,” she said. “(Coach Rob Brown) told me I needed to be patient. I was hoping maybe I could get third or fourth, but it’s great to finish like I did. I knew I’d have to sprint that last mile all the way to the finish.”
Mancini won the Bulldog Invitational on a slightly different Rose Tree Park course last month.
“I tried to stay ahead of girls when we got down to the creek,” she said. “I didn’t realize how deep it was going to be when I stepped in the mud down there.”
Mancini’s teammate, Katie Till, placed seventh.
“I kept telling myself that I had to do it when we were coming up that last hill,” Till said.
Among the other runners in the top 10 were Megan Cook of Marple Newtown (eighth), and Episcopal Academy’s Caitlin Jorgensen (ninth).
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