Lansdale Catholic tackles Belmont Plateau at 3rd PCL meet

PHILADELPHIA >> Mikayla Beaver has a sound strategy every time she attacks Belmont Plateau’s infamous Parachute Hill.

“When you’re at the bottom, don’t look up,” the Lansdale Catholic senior said, “because that just makes it a lot worse.”

Beaver and her Crusader teammates mastered the hills and the course on Tuesday, racing to an impressive performance in the third Philadelphia Catholic League meet of the season.

“I think we have a good base for everyone,” Beaver said. “The invitationals should help because they’re flatter courses so we’ll be faster, and then you have (Belmont) to work the hills. We’re feeling pretty confident about what we can do this season.”

Beaver and teammate Hannah Beck, returning state qualifiers from a year ago, pushed each other to the finish line, crossing almost side-by-side, in fourth and fifth.

Natalie Cornely and Vicky Nangle of Archbishop Wood set the pace, crossing in 23:17 and 23:18, with Little Flower’s Serena Pisacano (23:51), Beaver (23:59) and Beck (23:59) comprising the top five in a field of 24.

“They almost all ran better this week than they did last week, and that’s what you hope for,” Crusader coach Steve Probert said of both the boys and girls squads. “The boys had a nice group today and the girls did well. Mikayla and Hannah helped each other and helped Gabriella Huber to finish up strong.”

Huber, a newcomer, is coming on strong. On Tuesday, the junior shaved a minute off of her opening mile, heading into the woods.

“She did an awesome, killer first mile,” Beaver said.

“Get through the up-hills, work the down-hills,” Beck said of the mentality she and her teammates take with them through the course.

And there’s also a camaraderie that develops.

“Being supportive of the runners around you is really helpful,” Beaver said, “When you’re going by somebody, you try to say ‘good job,’ or ‘you got this.’ It just kinda takes the pain out of everything. And you’re all working the same course.”

The La Salle boys took five of the top six spots in their race — the Explorer pack would actually cross eight runners in the top nine.

PCL champions seven straight years from 2007-2013, the Explorers were led this time around by Quinn O’Neill, whose time of 17:56 was tops in the race and the third fastest of the day.

The top two times of the afternoon came out of the other boys race, with Sean Sullivan of Bonner-Prendergast going 17:36 and Joe Pisacano of St. Joe’s Prep not far behind in 17:42. Cardinal O’Hara’s Celia Pastore led her team in the second girls race of the day, as the Lions put together the tighest pack in their heat.

The Crusaders will head to Carlisle on Saturday for an invitational, with momentum building from a solid day on the PCL’s demanding home course.

“This course is legendary,” Probert said.

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