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Cornell, Dubois earn District 11 medals

Two Northwestern Lehigh runners qualified for Saturday’s PIAA Class 2A Cross Country Championships.

Sophia Cornell and Haley Dubois finished in the top 10 in last week’s District 11 Championships to earn a district medal and a place at the state meet.

Cornell qualified for states with a seventh-place finish in 21:37, while DuBois (21:54) placed ninth to advance as the Tigers finished fourth in the team standings with 85 points.

“I’m very happy,” said Cornell, a junior. “I was hoping to do a little bit better. This wasn’t a great race for me. But I got done what I wanted to get done. I’m happy that I made it.”

Cornell did her best to stay in contention throughout the race to make sure she was in position to move on to Hershey. “I started off really quick,” she said. “I was up with Olivia Bortz (of Saucon Valley, who finished second). I was running third for a little bit. Then I dropped back, and then I worked my way back up a little bit again. So I’m glad I got to do that.”

DuBois, a senior in her second year on the team, utilized her training on a difficult course to advance to the state meet.

“I feel really good today. I think that the hills that we work on during practice really help us,” she said. “And I’m just really happy because it’s my senior year, so I’m just happy I could place. I got 11th last year, so I was really close.”

The rest of the Tiger top five included junior Devon Heinly (20th), junior Kellcey Pedron (23rd) and senior Katie Griffiths (40th). Ava Smedstad (45th) and Megan Fornwalt (70th) were also part of Northwestern’s girls district team.

While the Tigers were hoping for a top-two team finish to get the entire line up qualified for the state meet, head coach Chris Stitzel is still pleased with his team’s season. He’s also looking forward to next year when most of his girls team returns.

“It was a great year,” he said. “We still have two girls going to states. We’re young. We lose Hailey, but we pretty much have our whole team back. We have one or two good middle school girls coming up. Hopefully it’s our turn again next year.”

The Tiger boys team finished eighth at districts, led by junior Greyson Wellings, who placed 16th to come up one place short of qualifying for states.

To qualify for states runners must finish in the top 10 among runners who are not part of state-qualifying teams. The top two teams send their entire line ups to states.

Wellings was just hoping to improve on the time he ran a week earlier at the league meet, which he did by coming in at 18:09.

“I just wanted to get under 18:20 because last week I ran 18:28 here,” he said. “I’m really happy with achieving that goal. I feel amazing how I ran today. I knew the past week I had to really lock in and do my best.”

The rest of the Tigers’ top five included junior Xander Giandomenico (20th), senior Sean Kershner (25th), junior Luke Thrash (59th) and senior Tyler Lehr (60th). Sophomore Jonathan Fornauf (63rd) and freshman Brady Furman (90th) were also part of Northwestern’s district team.

“It was a good year for us,” said Stitzel. “We’re young. My top two guys, Xander and Greyson are only juniors. The guys, all the studs we lost over the years, coming back this year to go 19-5, we did a lot better than I thought we would this year. We’re kind of ahead of where I thought we were.”

Palmerton’s Connor Hibell won the boys Class 2A district title in 16:47, with Duke Ebert (Central Catholic) in second place at 17:16. Central Catholic won the boys team title. Tamaqua took second place.

Wilson’s Avery Errico won the girls individual Class 2A title in 20:24. Saucon Valley took first place in the girls team standings, while Tamaqua was second.

In Class 3A, Nazareth’s Giovanni Mastromona won the boys title in 16:00, with 2022 champ Paul Ablen (Parkland) in second place at 16:24. Parkland won the boys team title with Easton finishing second.

The Emmaus girls won their fifth consecutive 3A team title, edging Easton by three points as the Hornets’ Many McCartney won the girls title in 19:13 with Freedom’s Avaline Fihlman second at 19:42.

Moravian Academy sophomore Virginia Kraus, the defending state champ in Class A, won the girls individual title in 18:11, two minutes faster than Notre Dame’s Katherine Koons (20:17) in second place. Notre Dame took the team title with Moravian Academy in second place.

The state championship race will be held Saturday at Hershey’s Parkview Course.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Sophia Cornell finished seventh at the District 11 Championships to earn a medal and a trip to the state meet.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Haley Dubois finished ninth at districts to earn a medal and a place in Saturday's state championship meet.