NEWVILLE — Saturday’s Mid-Penn Girls Cross Country Championship was Taryn Parks’ race to win.
And the Greencastle-Antrim senior did exactly that by nearly a full minute. But it also was a chance for Carlisle’s Sophia Toti to put up a top time as one of the field’s best runners.
The senior did not disappoint, posting an 18:44.17, well behind Parks (17:53.097), but good enough for silver.
“I’m happy with how it went,” the recent Penn State pledge said shortly after crossing as just the second girl in the field to break 19 minutes at Big Spring High School on this day.
Toti, who will try to lead the Thundering Herd in two weeks to yet another PIAA team qualifying spot out of Class 3A during the District 3 Cross Country Championships, got out into second behind Parks right away. But the Blue Devils’ standout methodically built on her lead all race.
The race did not feature Northern sensation Marlee Starliper, the reigning Mid-Penn champ, who took the weekend off to focus on districts.
Toti herself was able to keep a few seconds of distance between her and a cluster of three that included Boiling Springs’ Peyton Ellis. Over the last 1,000 meters, Toti extended that advantage to more than 15 seconds and held on.
“The first mile went pretty fast because I was told to stay with Taryn, or as close to her as I could,” she said. “And then the second mile was a little slower, a little less painful. And then the third mile I went really hard.”
Silver is a two-spot improvement for Toti over last year. She and her teammates now turn their attention to districts, where the Herd finished fifth a year ago, one point behind Exeter for the fourth team qualifying position for the state championships. Toti finished ninth in districts last year in 19:45.4.
The girls — who finished fourth Saturday behind medal finishes from Toti, Gretal Shank (17th, 19:54.37), Alyssa Dyson (27th, 20:19.73), Karlin Powell (28th, 20:22.27) and Sophie Salomone (34th, 20:35.80) — are Carlisle’s best hope to extend its run to seven straight seasons where at least one of the boys or girls teams qualifies for states. The boys qualified each of the past six years, but this year that group is young and will have a challenge qualifying.
Ellis continues to impress
You have free articles remaining.
Boiling Springs’ Peyton Ellis shined once again Saturday with a bronze-medal finish against veteran big school competition.
The freshman’s 19:01.45 trailed only Parks and Toti and further established she will be a force the next three years, perhaps a contender to take Starliper’s mantle as the Mid-Penn’s top runner in the coming years.
“I am always scared to think about that ‘cause that’s just crazy ‘cause […] I’ve been hearing those names for so long and they’re so amazing, and they’re so good at what they do,” Ellis said. “It’s just crazy to think that could be me one day.”
Not much stands in her way after a season of gold medals. She now heads to her first District 3 and (likely) PIAA championships as a medal contender.
Ellis was out in the top handful of runners the whole race. Once Parks and Toti pulled ahead in the opening mile, Ellis was right at the front of the first cluster. Still fighting off the tail end of a cold, she felt surprisingly strong, she said.
“I felt really good today, which was weird,” she said. “I expected [the course] to be worse, but it was good. It didn’t really feel that much different.”
‘Cats sophomores hold up
Hope McKenny made up for a sluggish start to her Carlisle Invitational run two weeks ago, slapping down a 19:10.75 to finish fifth.
Combined with classmate Olivia Walter’s 20:08.72 (23rd), the Wildcats picked up four individual medals on the day, including Molly Snyder (29th, 20:25.12) and Raihana Yameogo (33rd, 20:32.14).
“I like how we can work together and [are] strong together,” McKenney said.
“I felt very strong. At Carlisle I didn’t have the best start, so I felt like I had to work around people for most of the race. So today I felt like I got out towards the front, and that definitely helped me throughout the race.”
Big Spring’s Gabrielle Reifsnyder (21st, 20:04.34) and Mikaela Ward (32nd, 20:33.45); Cumberland Valley’s Lanie Grogg (22nd, 20:06.40), Chloe Warrell (25th, 20:12.92) and Brianna Wagner (31st, 20:32.20); and Camp Hill’s Grace Shartle (30th, 20:28.36) rounded out the local contingent that picked up medals.