HERSHEY — Coming up the final hill, Leanne Weaver could see a familiar opponent just out ahead of her.
Just 10 days ago, the Boiling Springs junior found herself in a similar situation — trailing East Pennsboro’s Angel Barber with 100 meters left.
This time, Weaver wasn’t going to let her escape.
On the last stretch, Weaver kicked it into a different gear, passing Barber right at the finish line, securing a ninth-place finish in the Class AA girls race at the PIAA Cross Country Championships Saturday morning at Parkview Cross Country Course.
Ninth place wasn’t quite as high as Weaver was hoping for, but shaving more than 10 seconds off her time from districts is something she couldn’t ignore.
“I was coming up the hill and I saw that group ahead of me,” said Weaver, who finished in 19:25. “I knew that I only had 100 meters left to beat them, so I went all out for it at the end and I got what I wanted to do here.”
Barber crossed just two second behind her District 3 counterpoint at 19:27, 10 days after she finished four seconds before Weaver for the District 3-AA title.
After the first mile, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Panthers senior. Starting at Mile 2, Barber said she began to get a cramp in her abdomen, which made keeping the same pace difficult.
Especially with the quick start she established.
“I went out a lot faster,” Barber said. “I wasn’t really sure what to do or what to expect. So I just went really fast the first mile.”
The cramp turned out to be too much for Barber to stay with the top of the pack. But with her tremendous improvement from a year ago, she wasn’t about to complain.
“I cramped last year, too, and I went on to get 41st, so this time I said I wasn’t going to panic,” Barber said. “I just stayed calm and ran through it. It was bad, I fell back a lot of spots, but I managed to pick it back up a little bit.
“Luckily I still medaled. Considering I went up 31 spots from last year, I still consider this a victory.”
The final Sentinel-area girl to earn a medal was Cumberland Valley’s Mady Clahane in the AAA race.
The three-time defending District 3-AAA champion had placed third at the state championships in each of the past two season.
Clahane struggled Saturday, though, crossing at 19:00 in 12th place. The Eagles junior said that breathing issues played a big factor in her falling back.
“Toward the middle of the race when you realize people are passing you, that’s never really happened to me before,” Clahane said. “Just constantly slowing down and not being able to breathe, I was so close to giving up. I wasn’t going to not let myself get a medal at states, though, and just gave it all I had. It was worth it.”
After winning the District 3-AAA team title, Carlisle got to bring its whole team to run Saturday.
Leading the charge was junior Maddie Kole, who finished in 19:49, good for 61st place.
As a team, the Thundering Herd took 11th with 266 points.
“Last year, I went with just one other teammate,” Kole said. “It’s more motivating to have the whole team with me running.”
Carlisle brings back six of its seven runners who raced Saturday, giving it a chance to build upon the success next season.
“It’s a great experience,” Kole said. “Next year we’re hoping to come back and build up a better team so that we can place a lot higher then.”
Brianna Schwartz, of Shaler, won the AAA title with a time of 17:39. In AA, Ally Rome, of Dallas, crossed in 18:44 to win, while Marianne Abdalah, of Vincentian Academy, won the A final with a time of 18:35.
Email Christopher Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44