HERSHEY — Some of the runners who were competing in Saturday's PIAA Girls Class AAA Cross Country Championships looked totally relaxed as they warmed up for the big annual race at Hersheypark's Parkview Cross Country Course.
Wissahickon's Lotte Black was not one of them.
As she prepared for the race in the final minutes before the starter's gun was shot, Black had just the opposite of a casual demeanor.
"I'm nervous,' admitted Black as she did her final pre-race stretching.
Nervous or not, Black ran well enough to be the top area finisher at the state championships. She finished 32nd with a time of 19:41.
"I think it helped me because the more nervous I get, the better I race,' said Black, a sophomore. "When the gun goes off, I forget about being nervous. I was really happy with my race today because I improved my time from last year. And I improved my place by a lot.
"The first mile was really fast. I came across the mile at 5:45 which was the same number as my bib number. I felt good at the mile. I looked for the North Penn girl (Brianna Mengini) and passed her in the second mile.
"I worked the hills pretty good and used the downhills today. I passed one girl in the final stretch (Council Rock North's Kaelyn Heinicke). I almost got the girl in front of me (Cardinal O'Hara's Amy Kelly) but she had a good kick.
Mengini led the North Penn contingent when she placed 54th with a time of 20:06. The Maidens' other two competitors were Melanie Vlasic who placed 89th and Phoebe Clowser who checked in at 154th.
Methacton's Kara Steinke was the only area girl other than Black to finish in the top 50. Steinke, a senior competing in her fourth consecutive state championship meet, finished 46th with a clocking of 19:55.
"It felt good,' said Steinke. "I tried my absolute hardest, but I kind of expected this because of the way the end of the cross country season had been going. I ran my hardest. Obviously, my body is not 100 percent because of iron-deficiency and breathing problems.
"But I have no regrets. There is nothing different I could have done. I got out really well and felt great. The whole race was me catching people and people passing me. I focused on the hills. I was able to pass a lot of girls on the hills, but I never liked this course. I'm so glad I never have to run this course again.'
In the Girls Class AA meet, Gwynedd Mercy Academy finished ninth with 250 points while Dallas High took the team title with 99.
The Monarchs' top finishers were Allie Flint, who crossed 49th with a time of 20:39, and Stephanie Szekely, who was 72nd at 20:50.
The best finisher from the area in the Girls Class AA championship race was Lansdale Catholic's Kayla Connelly, who won the eighth-place medal with a clocking of 19:36.