Four runners from Elk Lake and two from Lackawanna Trail laced up their shoes one last time and competed with the best in the state at the PIAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, held at the Hershey Parkview Course.
Elk Lake junior Shyanne Bennett capped off the season by bringing home a state medal with a 16th place finish in the Class 1A race.
For Bennett, her finish concluded a season that saw her and two teammates, sophomore Sadie Bosscher and senior Lydia Ofalt, run as individuals because Elk Lake did not have enough runners to field a varsity girls team.
She was 24th after the first mile, then worked her way forward — 19th after the second mile before finishing 16th in 19:57.
“I’d rather run with a team,” said Bennett, who was 32nd at states as a freshman and 37th as a sophomore. “But it definitely is quite satisfying to get a medal on my own.”
Bosscher was 45th in 20:53 in her second trip to states.
The duo of Bennett and Bosscher finished third and fourth, respectively, at the District 2 Cross Country Championships.
For Lackawanna Trail, sophomore Victoria James improved from last year’s state meet, placing 48th in 20:56.
James finished in 64th last year and qualified for this year’s state meet with a fifth place finish at districts.
Fellow sophomore Madison Swanchak, competing in her first state meet, finished in 128th out of 277 runners in 22:24.
Swanchak placed eighth at the district meet.
Holy Cross senior Lexi Walsh placed fifth in Class 1A to lead Lackawanna League runners and helped the Lady Crusaders wind up eighth in the team standings.
Marian Catholic senior Tina Capparell won the race in 19:01, while St. Joseph’s Catholic won the team title with 93 points.
In the Class 1A boys race, Elk Lake junior Peyton Jones finished in 19th with a time of 17:02 to earn a state medal after placing 41st last year.
From that experience, he learned he had to have a fast start.
“I definitely knew I had had to get out hard,” Jones said. “I was in a good position at the mile (12th). Then I worked the second mile, cruise the third, try to keep my pace and finish hard. But the biggest thing was the start. Last year I didn’t get out hard enough. This year, I got out a lot harder and it put me in position to get a medal.”
Also for the Warriors, senior Cody Oswald capped his career with a 29th-place finish out of 214 runners in 17:21.
He finished 51st as a freshman, 47th as a sophomore and 42nd as a junior.
The top 25 finishers in the Class 1 A races medaled.
Jones and Oswald both qualified for states by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, at the district meet.
For the Lackawanna League, Montrose took third and just missed a spot on the podium, finishing six points behind District 9 Elk County Catholic.
District 6 Penns Valley won the title with 68 points, while Winchester Thurston senior Tristan Forsythe won the race, covering the 3.1-mile Hershey Parkview Course in 16:12.
Photos attached with this story were taken by Ed King.