Delone Catholic freshman Kate Mowrey had been looking forward to this race for the past week.
Why not? The District 3 race held at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey played to her strength.
"Hills are where I make up a lot of ground on people," the freshman said after the YAIAA Championships last week. "I am able to pass them on the hills, and that course is a hilly one. I am really looking forward to districts."
On Wednesday when she approached the starting line, she had one goal in mind, making it to states. A pretty big goal for a freshman.
Little did she know that in 20 minutes, 54 seconds she would cross the finish line as the District 3 Class A champion.
"I am so happy," said an elated Mowrey. "Winning it blows my mind. I am so happy."
Mowery is only the second female from the Hanover area to win a district title, the first being Spring Grove's Kim Meckley in 1984.
"We practice hills all the time in practice," Mowrey said. "I guess it's kind of a born natural ability that I can run hills."
For Delone Catholic head coach Scotty Watt, Wednesday was supposed to be a farewell tour of sorts, seeing all of the friends that he has made over the past 10 seasons as head cross country coach. Watt decided he is going to retire at the end of the season.
The girls' team had something different in mind.
"All season, we had a goal that we wanted to make this year special for Coach," Mowrey said.
They did just that as the Squirettes won the District 3 Class A team title to give Watt his first trip to states in his career.
"It made the whole experience 10 times better," Mowrey said.
Winning the team title means the entire girls' team advances to states. Two of Mowrey's teammates also finished in the top 10, with Sarah Bischoff finishing fourth and Andrea Resciniti finishing eighth.
Delone's were not the only Hanover-area runners who experienced success in the Class A girls' race.
Fairfield's Kaitlyn Beckham finished second in 21:02.
"It feels good to finish my senior year with a second place in districts," Beckham said. "I finished third last year. My goal was a top-five finish and to make it to states for a third year in a row, and I was able to do that."
In the Class A boys' race, Biglerville's Brady Wilt cruised to a District 3 championship with a time of 17:24.
"It feels great. I couldn't be more happier right now," Wilt said. " I did what I wanted to do today and executed it pretty good. I might not be showing it outside, but on the inside I am full of joy."
Wilt jumped out to an eight-second lead after the first mile and never looked back, finishing 18 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, Delone's Nick Poole.
"At the 1-mile mark, the guy there said I had a 50-meter lead," Wilt said. "I knew right there that I was doing something right. When we went up the very last hill, they told me I was starting to open it up."
It was at that point he put it in cruise control.
"I know next week the competition will get even harder," he said. "The goal is to finish in the top 20s."
In the Class AA boys' race, Littlestown's Xavier Sauvageau finished in third place with a time of 16:56, stamping his ticket to the state meet.
"I just tried to stay relaxed coming into the race," he said. "The first mile felt good, like we were going at a pretty easy pace. The second mile was all hills, and I tried to push the hills and use the work I have been doing to get up them and, the last mile, I just gave it all I got. Overall, I feel like I have a lot more I can do next week and I am excited about that."
The Hanover area experienced a lot of success on Wednesday with numerous runners making it to the state championships.
In Class A girls, that includes Delone's Alyssa Alberghini, Mercedes Nield, Jenna Slater and Julie Mall. In Class A boys, they include Fairfield's John Roan and Devin Barlow. Bermudian Springs' Rachel Crane advances in Class AA girls and Gettysburg's Thomas Buxton moves ahead in Class AA boy. In Class AAA boys, the qualifiers are South Western's Ryan Hertzog and New Oxford's Aaron Gebhart.
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