Strath Havenâ  s Abby Kennedy finishing up the Delaware County girls varsity cross country championships at Rose Tree Park on Saturday. Kennedy led the
Strath Havenâ s Abby Kennedy finishing up the Delaware County girls varsity cross country championships at Rose Tree Park on Saturday. Kennedy led the Panthers at the district championship Friday with a 24th place finish. (Times Staff / JULIA WILKINSON) (Julia Wilkinson)

BETHLEHEM — It was cool at the PIAA District One Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus Friday morning.

Strath Haven's Abby Kennedy didn't mind.

"Just before the raced started, it got really sunny,' the Delaware County Meet champion said. "I knew we were going to have a good race.'

The Panthers ran well enough to finish fourth (187) behind Unionville (39), Pennsbury (56), and Central Bucks East (163) and ahead of Great Valley (188) in earning one of the district's five team invitations to the PIAA Class AAA Championships in Hershey Saturday, Nov. 2. It is the sixth time in 10 years Haven has sent its team to the state meet.

"They did a great job as a team,' Strath Haven coach Bill Coren said. "We didn't do very well at states last year. I expect us to be a lot better there this year.'

Kennedy finished 24th, two places behind Springfield High senior Grace Galligan, to lead the Haven pack. Sophomore Maia Mesyngier was the next Panther finisher (28th), followed by Allie Wilson (36th). Isabel Cardi (49th) and Claire Wolters (50th) rounded out the scorers for Strath Haven.

"We started so far outside we had to make sure we didn't fall in behind the big cluster on our left,' Kennedy said. "Maia and I wanted to be between 15th and 30th and we both made that.

"We must have had about 800 (meters) to go, and I could still hear Maia encouraging me. I tried to get in as fast as I could.'


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Mesyngier was happy to be running at Lehigh.

"I love this course,' she said. "It's great the way there is so much space out there. When I can run like that, I try not to worry about where the other people are.

"It seems like when you get to that cornfield it is endless, but you just try to tell yourself that you have to keep going.'

Wilson helped Strath Haven to a 1-0 double-overtime district soccer win over Unionville Thursday night and will be back in a soccer uniform tonight, when Haven takes on Central Bucks East.

"My legs were hurting,' she said. "But (Coren) told me not to hold anything back. If other girls were pressing me, I knew I had to keep up with them and keep the pace up.

"You know when you're in that last straightway that every girl is important, and you just go all out to finish.'

In addition to Galligan, the Strath Haven team will be joined in the state championship race by seniors Liz McGroarty of Garnet Valley, who finished 39th, and Courtney Naser of Haverford, who was 40th.

"I had a fast start the first mile and wanted to stay with the Strath Haven girls,' said Galligan, who also ran in the state final as a sophomore. "I did what I could with the hills because I know how every place counts when you're trying to make (states).'

Naser also qualified for the state final last fall.

"I hoped I could finish higher up here, but it really wasn't my best race,' she said. "When I heard people calling out the places, I told myself I better get going.'

McGroarty struggled with the Delco Meet and Central League Meet races earlier this season and was happy to perform better at Lehigh.

"I didn't go out that fast and was about 50th after the first mile,' she said. "It was about where I hoped I would be, but I knew I had to move up to make it to states.

"When I started getting past people, I really believed that I had it.'

In the Class A race, Delaware County Christian School junior Annette Kempf qualified for the state championship race for the second consecutive year, placing fourth in 21 minutes, 45 seconds.

"Our coach (Dr. George McFarland) always helps us reach our high expectations,' Kempf said. "Making (states) for the second time is exciting.

"The start was good, especially having only two or three people in front of you. The cornfield is the worst part of the course when you are gradually going uphill. Then you get to the statue before your turn to the last straightaway and you know you have to pick it up. It's still a way to the finish, but you do what you can to get there.'

Delco Christian junior Cassidy Foxhoven placed eighth in 22:05, which was seven seconds behind the final individual qualifier, Katie Guerra of Phil-Mont Christian.