Upper Dublin’s Candice Ionescu races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country
Upper Dublin's Candice Ionescu races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University Friday morning Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen)

In the end, the Suburban One American Conference Championship was always going to come down to Upper Dublin and Upper Merion. Although the Vikings went 7-0 during the regular season, the Cardinals only lost once and appeared just as good heading into the conference meet.

It came down to the fourth runner, but Upper Dublin pulled out a six-point win over Upper Merion to take its fifth consecutive conference title. The Cardinals' four in the top 10 bested the Vikings three en route to the victory. While the top three for both teams were dead even, the result came down to Adelie Ionescu's eighth place finish, which was two places higher than Upper Merion's Coleen Butler.

Wissahickon’s Lotte Black races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country Championships
Wissahickon's Lotte Black races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University Friday morning Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen)

"It got a little close at the end and it was a little bit nerve racking,' Upper Dublin coach Tony Giammarco said. "We were down by three points coming in, so it was important to get as many girls in the top 10 as possible. There are a couple good individuals in the league, but it was a two-team race.'

Lucille Ionescu finished third overall for the Cardinals. Her time of 19:49 led Upper Dublin, while Isabel Uribe and Emily Stewart came in fifth and sixth, respectively. After Adelie Ionescu's heroic eighth-place finish, Sara Smith took 11th to round out the scoring.

"I'm happy with third, but I wish I would not have gotten passed at the end,' Ionescu said. "It was a little windy and the time wasn't great, but I'm just happy for my team and that I contributed as an individual. I wanted to be top three and chase down the top girl, but she got away from me. This just prepares me for districts.'

Upper Merion strung three top-seven finishers together, but were edged out in the end. Jada Wilson was the Vikings' top finisher, taking third place while Zeinab Bakillah took fourth. Gabrielle Hnatin was seventh overall, while Butler and Ashley Anderson (14th) were the final two scorers.

Upper Dublin’s Sara Smith and Upper Merion’s Gabrielle Hnatin race toward the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the
Upper Dublin's Sara Smith and Upper Merion's Gabrielle Hnatin race toward the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University Friday morning Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen)

Wissahickon would have liked to have won the meet, of course, but the Trojans can be very proud of the third place finish and being represented by the individual champion of the meet. Lotte Black, who has been plagued by injuries this season, took the conference title by a wide margin in 19:22. The other four Trojans scorers finished in close proximity, as Yasmeen Wermers, Jenna Feltes, Caroline Mitchell and Yun Cho finished 13th, 15th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

"It feels good to win. My coach was telling me to wear spikes and I didn't want to, so he told me I had to get first,' Black said, with a laugh. "I really wanted to prove myself today because I have been hurt most of the season. I know we have districts next Friday, so I'm trying to get ready for that. It definitely helps my confidence.'

Cheltenham’s Natalia Oliveria races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country
Cheltenham's Natalia Oliveria races towards the finish line during the American league varsity girls race at the Suburban One Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University Friday morning Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen)

Cheltenham and Springfield both provided some surprises to the top 12 despite not scoring as teams. Spartans freshman Sydni Stovall finished fifth overall, while Cheltenham's Sarah Richart was her team's top finisher at 11th, which was much higher than she expected. It just goes to show that championship meets can bring unexpected results out of young athletes.

"This was a lot of work. I was just running to get top 10 or top five, just to get a good time,' Stovall said. "It feels great, but I'm always looking for better. I feel like an underdog because I'm a freshman. They may not know me now, but they will know me next year.'

"The race was really fun, I'm really excited to come back for districts,' Richart said. "It was so beautiful out, which helped. I really wanted to break 20 and I didn't think I would be able to, but I saw that I was only 22 seconds off today, so maybe I can do it at the next meet.'

Although Upper Moreland did not score as a team, Brittany Finn had an outstanding performance in her second-place finish. Finn ran 19:48, out-kicking Ionescu in the last few meters of the race. While it was disappointing that her team was not in the title conversation, she was still happy with her individual effort.

"It was really important for me to finish well because it's my senior year,' Finn said. "It felt great to finish second, it's a runner's high. I came to do cross country sophomore year, so this gives me a lot of confidence heading into districts and winter season. I would love to make states since it's my last year.'

Plymouth-Whitemarsh rounded out the scoring teams, placing fifth. Caroline Dijiosia and Gillian Mencken finished 20th and 25th, respectively, to lead the Colonials, while Danielle Harper, Julie Sassi and Leslie Miller also scored. Norristown's lone finisher was Pattie Fortescu.

Team scores:

Upper Dublin 32; Upper Merion 38; Wissahickon 66; Cheltenham 103; Plymouth-Whitemarsh 131; Did not score: Upper Moreland, Springfield, Norristown

Top 25

1. Lotte Black (Wiss) 19:22

2. Brittany Finn (Upper Moreland) 19:48

3. Lucille Ionescu (UD) 19:49

4. Jada Wilson (Upper Merion) 19:58

5. Sydni Stovall (Springfield) 20:01

6. Zeinbe Bakillah (Upper Merion) 20:09

7. Isabel Uribe (UD) 20:16

8. Emily Stewart (UD) 20:19

9. Gabrielle Hnatin (Upper Merion) 20:19

10. Adelie Ionescu (UD) 20:19

11. Sarah Richart (Cheltenham) 20:30

12. Coleen Butler (Upper Merion) 20:31

13. Sara Smith (UD) 20:44

14. Marissa Holl (UD) 20:53

15. Pattie Fortescu (Norristown) 20:58

16. Yasmeen Wermers (Wiss) 21:02

17. Ashley Anderson (Upper Merion) 21:05

18. Jenna Feltes (Wiss) 21:14

19. Abby Uehling (Springfield) 21:15

20. Caroline Dijiosia (P-W) 21:25

21. Maria Antoni (Upper Moreland) 21:30

22. Hope Lu (Upper Merion) 21:39

23. Caroline Mitchell (Wiss) 21:53

24. Yun Cho (Wiss) 22:16

25. Gillian Mencken (P-W) 22:16