Local cross country teams kick into high gear

Kennett, Unionville teams compete at Hershey

By Hannah Christopher, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com

Members of the Unionville High School girls cross country team pose with their second place trophy from last weekend's Hershey Invitiational meet.

Last Saturday the Unionville and Kennett cross country teams competed in Hershey, PA in the PIAA Foundation Invitational.    It is a great opportunity for the teams to experience, some for the first time, the State Championship course in Hershey.

Unionville’s varsity girls placed second as a team to Pennsbury in the Varsity Gold Division which had 31 teams competing.  The Kennett girls placed 29th as a team and the Kennett boys placed 14th.  The Unionville varsity boys placed behind Kennett in the 18 spot out of 33 teams.

Individually, Unionville was lead by the second place finish overall by Courtney Smith in a 19:12 over the challenging 5000 meter course.  She was second to Sara Sargent a former PA state champion.  Smith, who is only a sophomore, is competing for the first time this year for the Indians cc team.  She is a former soccer standout who has switched over to long distance running and obviously is having great success with her decision.  Other top scorers for the “U” were Annie Birkenmaier, Gretchen Mills, Olivia Young and Emily Fisher.  Young and Mills are only freshmen so stay tuned for more news on this very strong girls team.  They are coached by physics professor Mark Lacianca who really knows how to whip kids into shape and  his specialty is to know how to get them to peak when it counts, at the high school states.

Jared Murphy was the first Unionville boy’s varsity runner to cross the line in 60th place.  The second Unionville boy was junior Steven Yannocone in 72nd place.

The Kennett girls were lead by Lisa Finfrock who finished in 95th place.  The Kennett varsity boys had a 48th and 49th finish by Angel Chimal and Evan Jones, a sophomore.  They both ran 18:12 on the hilly course.  Chimal was the second place overall finisher at this years Mushroom Festival 5k.  He was second place to Paul Springer, former Unionville star runner and recent Notre Dame Graduate.

Kennett’s program is developing and they are working hard on building their program under the leadership of John Ramagano.  I expect like their football team that cross country will also be soon one of the teams to beat.

The junior varsity teams fared well on Saturday.  The Unionville girls placed first out of 23 teams with a 22:47 average time. Jillian Jaycox was the overall winner in a 21:39 which would have put her in top 40 for varsity, and Melissa Talley was third. Erin Menninger was 9th overall, who is another transfer athlete from volleyball that joined the cc team.    The Unionville boys placed 11th as a team with Colin McDonald a sophomore placing 47th.  McDonald is just coming off a recent foot injury and is working his way back to top form.

Patton Middle School's Alex Wilkins won a tri-meet race with Kennett and Great Valley.

In other running news at the middle school level we had a Unionville, Kennett and Great Valley tri meet on Tuesday at Patton Middle school.  The boys and girls run 2 miles and there was a fantastic atmosphere of camaraderie between all of the kids.  Alex Wilkins, who is in  the 8th grade placed first overall for the boys and was at least a quarter of a mile ahead of all his competition.  Alex runs effortlessly and it is obvious he loves the sport.

For the girls Anna Willig won from Great Valley and came from behind to beat out Elizabeth Edwards from Patton middle school.  The Great Valley boys and girls won both team titles over Patton and Kennett.  I recommend going to digitalsports.com and finding out when the next home meet is and to come out and cheer for all of the kids who give it their best effort.   Each of the schools’ teams cheered everyone to the finish and gave them words of encouragement.

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