Kennard-Dale's Maddie Ferner finishes 15th at PIAA girls' cross country meet
HERSHEY >> Maddie Ferner's disappointment didn't last long after she placed 15th in Saturday's Class AA state championship race.
The Kennard-Dale senior, who won the YAIAA and District 3 titles in October, left the course to find a crowd of about 20 friends, family members and current and former teammates, waiting to congratulate her on her first state medal. The top-25 runners in each race are awarded state medals.
"I have so many people supporting me and I couldn't have done it without them," she said. "I was truly blessed to have gone to Kennard-Dale with this group of coaches and family and friends."
Ferner was in 10th place at the first mile marker, but steadily drifted back as the race went on. She broke her usual routine by trying to stay with the front pack for as long as possible, and felt like that strategy slowed her down towards the end. She had hoped to break 19 minutes on the tough Hershey course, but ended up with a time of 19 minutes, 25 seconds.
"I started out faster than I usually like to because I knew that if I didn't try to get out there and get with those top girls I wouldn't stand a chance. So I put myself out there and took a risk and tried to have no fear with it. It's a disappointment, but I went out and gave it my all and I guess today wasn't my day."
Her 15th-place medal will be the last piece of hardware in a decorated two years of cross country for Kennard-Dale. Ferner will continue running next season at the University of Toledo. She signed her letter of intent earlier this week.
"There's awesome coaches there, awesome girls," she said. "I'm so excited. I could not be more excited."
And, she joked, she won't have to buy too many new clothes since the Rockets sport a blue-and-yellow color scheme just like her current Rams team.
Eastern York trio sets state bests
Just as she had in every big meet this season, Eastern York sophomore Maddie McLain stuck with Ferner for as long as she could before finishing just behind her friend and rival.
This time, McLain finished one placement behind, earning a 16th-place medal as she crossed the finish line three seconds after Ferner.
"There were a lot more girls this year and the competition was a lot harder," said McLain, who earned a 23rd-place medal last season. "I ran about 30 seconds faster, but only seven places closer."
McLain's teammate Madison Nalls also improved in her second trip to states, going from finishing in the bottom-half last season to placing 41st on Saturday. The third member of the Golden Knights' state trio, freshman Olivia McLain, placed 57th in her first appearance. She said her teammates helped her learn about the notoriously-tough Hershey course before the race, particularly the course's hills.
"They didn't look that hard, but they were hard," Olivia McLain said of the hills. "I wasn't expecting it, but they were right."
Nalls is a sophomore, so all three will be back looking to return to states next season.
"We're trying to recruit more girls for next year," Nalls said. "We want to bring a full team."
Shelton medals in first state appearance
Christian School of York sophomore Nicole Shelton's quick rise continued as she earned a 22nd-place medal in the Class A state championship race.
Shelton jumped onto the running stage last spring by advancing all the way to the state track and field championships in the 3200-meter run. She placed 13th at that event, missing a medal by five spots.
This fall, she tried cross country for the first time and only ran three races while playing for the school's soccer team. She ran the Hershey course for the first time on Satuardy, completing the race in 20:14.
"I heard that it was going to be really tiring, but I got around the same time I did (at districts at Big Spring)," Shelton said. "I guess that means I'm improving, and that makes me happy."
Mowery places 41st in Class A, and more from the YAIAA
Delone Catholic senior Kate Mowery battled an ankle injury all season, and qualified for her fourth state championship appearance by earning the final District 3 spot at last week's district meet.
She made the most of that final appearance, running a time of 20:51 to place 41st in Class A. Teammate Leanne Sneeringer, who filled in as the team's top runner for most of the season, placed 54th with a 21:15.
Around the rest of the YAIAA, three runners placed in the top-124 of a 213-runner field in Class AA. West York's Bethany Weaver placed 82nd, Kennard-Dale's Caitlin Salomon placed 109th and York Suburban's Olivia Gettle placed 124th.