NEWVILLE — Carlisle’s boys cross country team came into the 2016 season talked about as being one of the best.
And while the boys ran away with gold at the Mid-Penn Cross Country Championships at Big Spring High School Saturday afternoon, the girls didn’t do half bad either. The Carlisle girls took home team fourth thanks, in many ways, to their leader.
Gracen Cabral is the name most will want to remember. With the Affolder brothers hogging the spotlight on the boys’ side, Cabral, you could say, is the girls’ equivalent.
“Gracen, it’s kind of funny. She just pulls it out of nowhere and we’re not sure where it comes from,” Addison Jastron said. “She doesn’t like workouts, so it’s kind of like (Ed) Boardman tells her what to do and she’s like, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ and then she does it anyways.”
“I don’t want to, but I will anyways” was the quote the rest of the squad used to describe her, laughing about it, but praising her all at the same time.
“She’s very dedicated and hard-working,” Savannah Hossfeld said. “She’s the hardest working on the team, for sure. A great work ethic.”
“Moose,” as she is affectionately called by her teammates because of her long stride, ended her first big race in ninth with a time of 19:23.5.
“In the beginning I thought we went out really fast, but as it went on, people started to drop back,”Cabral said. “There were a lot more hills than I realized, but it was pretty good conditions.
“Our coach said this is the best team we’ve had in a while, so this is really exciting.”
Carlisle running has a reputation to uphold. The boys have nine and the girls have four District 3 Class 3A championships, the last one coming in 2014. For the girls, it puts pressure on them.
But it’s also motivation.
“(The public) was like, ‘Oh, they lost Maddie Kole, oh they lost Sarah Frick,’” Julia Ledgett said. “Then we came back and we showed up, so it was cool because Boardman thought it was going to be the boys’ year to do everything. And that just gives us more motivation because they’re like, ‘Oh, can you actually do it?’”
Don’t expect the girls to be the boys’ cheerleaders either. They’re too busy running their own races and staying at the top.
“We want to be just as big as the talk as they are, we don’t want them to overcome us,” Teagan Jones said. “We never liked being cheerleaders for the boys.”
The girls’ goal is to make it to states, and when that time arrives. Carlisle landed four girls in the top 35 to end the day.
Hossfeld ended No. 17 with a time of 20:17.3, Ledgett finished No. 23 with a time of 20:30.5 and Jastron ended the day No. 29 with a time of 20:40.9.
Carlisle as a team ended the day in fourth place with a total of 116 points. State College took first with 74.
Starliper lands in fourth place
Stumbling across the finish line, Marlee Starliper ended her first postseason race of the year in fourth place with a time of 19:00.9.
And this wasn’t one of her best times or races, according to her.
“From what I remember,” Starliper said with a laugh, going back to what she thought when she finally crossed the finish line. “I was just really happy and dizzy at that point. I tried to just give it all that I had left to keep going, but yeah, I was having trouble with it.”
Starliper stumbled the final few feet before falling over the line. She had to be helped out of the chute back to the team’s tent, where she spent the entirety of the boys’ race recovering.
For Northern, Katie Anthony was the only other girl to make it into the top 35, finishing 31st with a time of 20:45.3 — Merideth Engle ended 38th with a time of 21:03.0 and Morgan Starliper No. 39 with a time of 21:05.3.
Northern ended in fifth place for team scores with 149 points.
Other locals that made it into the top 35: In 13th was East Pennsboro’s Jesse Margraf with a time of 20:03.9, in 15th was Cedar Cliff’s Corinne Firestone with a time of 20:10.5, in 20th was Cumberland Valley’s Marie Rulapaugh with a time of 20:21.8, in 27th was Big Spring’s Samantha Crouse with a time of 20:33.7 and in 36th was Big Spring’s Melanie Macioce with a time of 20:55.6.