By DENNY DYROFF

For 21st Century MediaWARMINSTER -- When the top runners came around the final turn and headed into the homestretch at Saturday's William Tennent Invitational, a short, speedy runner with a blonde ponytail and a Downingtown East jersey sprinted past one of the top runners from the Suburban One League and beat her to the finish line.

Just 16 seconds later, it was déjà vu time.

A short, speedy runner with a blonde ponytail and a Downingtown East jersey sprinted past one of the top runners from the Suburban One League and beat her to the finish line.

Both races were extremely close and both were big reasons Downingtown East was able to win the team championship.

George School's Jerrica Bauer ran a race all her own and finished just off the course record at 18:06. The next level also featured just one girl -- Veritas Academy's Leigha Martin, who was runnerup at 19:19.

The battle for third place featured a short, speedy runner with a blonde ponytail and a Downingtown East jersey -- Lexi VanBlunk -- and Upper Dublin's top runner Lucille Ionescu. VanBlunk turned it on at the end and finished third at 19:30 while Ionescu was fourth at 19:32.

Masterman's Claudia Ashworth was fifth at 19:45 and then sixth place was a battle between a short, speedy runner with a blonde ponytail and a Downingtown East jersey -- Maddy VanBlunk -- and Upper Moreland's Brittany Finn.

This VanBlunk also won the sprint to the finish -- but by a much closer margin. Maddy VanBlunk posted a time of19:46.2 and Finn came across at 19:46.3. It doesn't get much closer than that.

"The race started really fast,' said Lexi VanBlunk, a freshman. "I wanted to take it a little slower but I still felt comfortable. I was fourth at the mile and my mile time was six-flat. In the second mile, I pretty much settled into the same pace as the first mile and stayed in fourth place.

"In the third mile, I picked it up a lot because I felt great. I was running right with the Upper Dublin girl (Ionescu) until I felt I could pass her. I went ahead with 50 meters to go and then held her off.'

Maddy VanBlunk said, "I was running a little behind Lexi and my first mile was a 6:01. I'm usually around 6:15 for the mile. I thought it was a little fast but it felt comfortable. I was in 12th place at the mile. In the second mile, I picked it up a little and passed five girls.

"Then, in the third mile, I picked off one more girl in the last 50 meters (Finn). At first, I didn't think I'd catch her. I just surged with 20 meters to go and passed her with about five meters left in the race.'

East finished with three runners in the top 10 when Anja Weiler placed eighth with a clocking of 19:52. The Cougars' other finishers were Audrey Fatone, who was 11th at 20:04; Jessica Squeri, who placed 31st at 21:11; and Kaela Barna, who was 48th at 22:36.

Downingtown East claimed the championship trophy with 56 points while Upper Dublin was a close second with 64.William Tennent placed third with 97 followed by West Chester East with 136 and Council Rock South with 158.

West Chester East's runners in Saturday's meet were Kayla Jones (12th, 20:06), Kelly Smith (26th, 21:04), Amanda Boland (32nd, 21:15), Anja Kochendoerfer (33rd, 21:19), Mary Comer (38th, 22:00), Katherine Duguid (50th, 22:43) and Ellen Weaver (51st, 22:48).