BETHLEHEM >> A pair of girls, one boy, and one team took championship medals back to Chester County after their efforts at the PIAA District 1 Cross Country Meet at the course at Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus Friday morning.
West Chester Henderson freshman Jenna Mulhern raced to an 18-second victory over West Chester East junior Allyson Clarke in claiming top honors in the Class 3A girls race, while Villa Maria Academy senior Sarah Raubenheimer was the winner of the Class 2A individual title.
Unionville junior Cole Walker was the first-place finisher in the Class 3A boys race.
Downingtown West, paced by top 10 finishes from junior Payton Sewall, who was the runner-up to Walker, and senior Isaac Valderrabano, who placed eighth, repeated as Class 3A boys champion.
Mulhern completed the 5K course in 17 minutes, 41.4 seconds in her first district finals competition. Her senior teammates Courtney Kitchen and Courtney Alexander, were fifth and sixth, and Emma Teneza (27th) and Megan Baker (72nd) rounded out the Warriors’ top five finishers.
Henderson finished second to Central Bucks West in the team standings while Unionville was third, West Chester East placed fourth, and Avon Grove finished sixth. Each of those schools will compete as a team at the PIAA Class 3A Championships in Hershey Saturday, Nov. 3
“I had a good start and went out with the lead pack,” Mulhern, who began running as a fourth grader, said. “I knew I should stay up with Allyson (Clarke) because I knew how she would run. Then I started to go out ahead at the second mile.
“I never expected that I would be the one who would win here today. I’m just glad everyone on our team ran their (personal best time).”
Clarke cut almost 50 seconds off the time she ran to qualify for states at the 2017 district meet.
“Last year I was dealing with an iron deficiency,” she said. “I’ve felt better this year. It means a lot that for the first time in school history we will have our whole team going to the state meet.”
Sophomore Michaela Schiele (10th) and freshman Sonia Piombino (15th) were the Vikings’ other medalists Friday.
Senior Madison McGovern paced the Unionville effort with an eighth-place finish. Ninth grader Sarah Coates also earned a district medal by placing 25th.
“With a lot of work we achieved our goal to make it as a team,” McGovern said. “We did well today, but we want to be even better next week.”
Avon Grove got a 22nd place finish from sophomore Lauren O’Neill, a 46th place finish from freshman Brooke Barfell, and a 60th place finish by ninth grader Addison Chandler in earning its trip to the state meet.
Villa Maria’s Raubenheimer toured the course in 19 minutes, 4.2 seconds to capture first place by almost 20 seconds. Teammates Hope Brown (13th) and Caroline Bell, a freshman who placed 19th, also earned medals. Rauberheim’s winning time was almost one minute faster than she ran at the district meet last year.
“I just got out and stayed with the girls who were in front,” she said. “My goal was to run under 19 minutes. I really worked to get to the finish and wasn’t all that tired.
“I know the course in Hershey next week will be a lot tougher than this one was.”
In the 3A boys race, sophomore Aiden Barnhill (11th), seniors Joseph Chamoun (18th) and Kevin Wagner (32nd), and junior Ben Datte (41st) joined Sewall and Valderrabano in working together to earn another team title for Downingtown West.
“I knew I had to stick with the front pack and then kick it in,” Sewall said. “I’ve tried to build up my strength and be a strong finisher. The weather was great for us to run here today.
“Being defending champs helped us realize that we couldn’t lose our focus this year.”
Unionville’s Walker came back from a “rough end of the season last year” to become a district champion.
“I’m much more confident this year,” he said. “About halfway through the race I wanted to go out and break away and finish as strong as I could.”
Ethan McIntyre (5th), Cole Driver (6th), and senior James Conway (19th) were the Indians’ other top finishers Friday.
Among the other medalists were Joshua Lewin of West Chester East (20th) and Gavin Maxwell of Kennett (21st). Kennett’s Davis Piercy (26th) fell one place short of the medal stand, but will be competing at the state meet, along with Seth Hoffritz of Great Valley, Calvin Pash of West Chester Henderson, Domenic Moser of West Chester East, Great Valley’s Sean Garrett and Rahman Mohammed, and Bruce Trimmer of Oxford.
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