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Bear, Smith earn trip to state meet

Alivia Bear and Ava Smith are close friends on and off the cross-country courses, and their friendship also has helped elevate their running.

“We’re great friends, so she makes the practices and meets so much better,” said Bear of her teammate. “It’s great to have a girl on the team with her amazing ability because we push each other to our best.”

Their best this season has resulted in the senior duo headed to Hershey this weekend for the PIAA Cross Country Championships.

At the District 11 meet, Bear finished eighth overall in the Class AA bracket in a time of 21:40, and Smith was 11th in 21:58. It will be the second consecutive trip for Bear, while Smith will make his initial visit. Evan Reed was the Rough Rider’s top male finisher with his 29th place in a time of 20:13.

Head coach Kyle Rusnock recognized the magnitude of his both runners making the trip to Chocolate Town.

“It is huge to have two girls qualify for the state meet,” said Rusnock. “They have worked so hard all year long. It is so satisfying to see their goals accomplished.”

For Bear, it a special to take another trip to Hershey. She placed 66th there last year, and has learned from her experience.

“It feels really great to qualify again,” she said. “That was one of my goals. The main goal is to do well at states, so qualifying obviously was an important step toward that. I know how hard the state course is. Last year was more about enjoying the race and seeing what I could do.

“This year, I am going into it with the intention to do well, as I am hoping to get into the top 40. I want to beat my time from last year, and have one great race to close out my high school career. I need to attack the hills hard, stay relaxed, and not be afraid to push my limits.

“I’m really looking forward to it, especially to run with Ava this time around.”

Smith has appreciated her friend’s companionship and support.

“Alivia has helped me with my running,” said Smith. “We have been able to feed off each other. I have created a bunch of memories with her, and I’m looking forward to being with her at states.”

For Smith, it has been a special experience that just began last year for her.

“I have been working very hard since last crops country season,” she said. “Getting to states feels super rewarding.

“I unfortunately did not have another PR (personal record), but I was still proud how I did at districts due to the pressure. I’m approaching states with the mindset to give it my all since it’s my last high school meet.

“I’ll try my hardest, but enjoy the moment.”

By Nancy Scholz Alivia Bear finished 8th overall at the District 11 meet and earned a trip to states.
By Nancy Scholz Ava Smith finished 11th at the District 11 meet and also made the state meet.