By DENNY DYROFF
For 21st Century Media
HERSHEY -- The Unionville girls were on a mission Saturday morning at the PIAA Class AAA Cross Country Championships, which were held on Parkview Cross Country Course adjacent to Hersheypark.
Their goal was to return home from Chocolate Town with the state championship trophy.
Not surprisingly, when the race was over, the Indians had looks on their faces that said -- "Mission Accomplished.'
Unionville captured the state championship with 51 points. Pennsbury, Unionville's respected archrival from Bucks County, was a close runner-up with 57 points. Last year, the roles were reversed with the Falcons in first and the Indians as bridesmaids.
Blazing the trail for Unionville was Courtney Smith. The senior was gold medalist at last year's s meet, but had to settle for silver this year. Abington Heights' Tessa Barrett won the race with a super-fast time of 17:30. Smith was next across the line at 18:06.
"She (Barrett) had the better race today,' said Smith. "I had a pretty good day. I felt good the whole time. I was going for it. I got out better than I usually do here but I still wasn't in the front.
"At the mile, she was at 5:10 and I was at 5:20. I never gave up on her no matter where she was. I just kept chasing her down -- while trying to hold off the girl behind me (Cumberland Valley's Mary Clahane).'
Unionville had two other top-10 finishers -- Olivia Young was sixth with a time of 18:36, and Kacie Breeding finished ninth at 18:51.
"We had to start faster today because we didn't want to get boxed in,' said Young. "I was back a bit at the mile but, by the two-mile, I was up to around sixth. I was in fourth going up the last hill. I gave it all I had. I tried to sprint it in at the end but my legs were numb.'
Breeding said, "My race was good but it was stressful. The first mile was fast. I was running with Olivia (Young). We were 5:35 at the mile and still together at the two-mile. She started surging -- like I expected she would. I kept a steady pace. When I got to the last hill, I went all-out. I thought I had a good kick. I passed a couple girls at the end.'
Unionville's other finishers were Gretchen Mills (21st, 19:24), Elizabeth Edwards (26th, 19:29), Bridgette Zerbe (151st) and Jillian Brislin (220th).
Downingtown West's trio of runners featured Aislinn Devlin, 11th at 18:58; Michelle Myland, who took 53rd at 20:04 and Tabitha Loftus, who was 72nd at 20:18.
"I knew I had to go out fast,' said Devlin. "My mile time was 5:20. That's probably the hardest I've gone out all year. I was pretty much in the same place the whole race. I was dying a little in the second mile. I just tried to hold with Pennsbury's Olivia Sargent. I really pushed on the last hill and then sprinted in. I passed Sargent right before the finish.'
Great Valley placed 14th in the team standings with the septet of Anna Willig (39th), Sarah Hipwell (83rd), Tabitha Wismer (127th), Elise Claffey (140th), Emily Meehan (160th), Haley Quinn (163rd) and Hannah Lelito (215th).
Other finishers from Chester County were Conestoga's Annamarie Shultz (52nd) and Rita Concannon (143rd), Downingtown East's Maddy VanBlunk (56th) and Lexi VanBlunk (65th) and West Chester Rustin's Jess Delviscio (137th).
In the Class AA meet, Villa Maria Academy's Moira Abbot placed 163rd and Octorara's Caroline Stickley was two places back at 165th.