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H.S. sports: Two teams, three individuals prep for a pair of PIAA Championships

HERSHEY >> It all comes down to Saturday.

Every student-athlete puts in his or her time or energy for an entire season with the hopes of making it to states. On Saturday, two teams and three individuals will take on that challenge in a pair of PIAA Championships in Hershey.

Earning spots at the PIAA Cross Country Championships were Chambersburg's girls team, Southern Fulton's boys team, Chambersburg's Alex Hayden and Fannett-Metal's Steven Glodek.

Just a few miles away at the Hershey Racquet Club, McConnellsburg's Bronwyne Mellott will take a stab at the PIAA Class AA Girls Tennis title.

"I'm nervous, but I'm ready," Mellott said. "Hopefully I can walk away with the gold this year. It definitely pushes me knowing that I could've or should've won before. I am capable of winning, so I've been working a lot in practice just on things that I need to improve looking back at last year."

Mellott, a junior, has climbed all the way to the final for the last two years, and is now looking for the crown. She said this year she has been working on having a higher percentage of strong first serves and focusing on making her ground strokes more consistent. Mellott, who does not play for a team, does struggle with some disadvantages, though.

"I get more one-on-one training, but I feel like I'm at a disadvantage because I don't get any more match play," Mellott said. "I play at districts, but I don't play any other matches, whereas these other girls are on a team, practicing and playing matches."

Mellott faces Berks Catholic's Lin Robertson in the first round Friday at noon. If she makes the final it is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. Wilson Area's Tyra Ott, who defeated Mellott in the final last year, is in the opposite side of the bracket.

Out on the cross country course, most of the athletes don't bear the same burden.

Chambersburg's girls team has advanced to states for the fifth straight season, while Southern Fulton defended its District 5 Class A boys title.

"The support is everything," Chambersburg's top runner Abby Yourkavitch said after the District 3 meet. "Knowing that I'm going to have them there to run the race with me means a lot."

Chambersburg's girls are eyeing a top 10 finish, but coach Chris Monheim knows that it's not going to be easy.

"For us to do well as a team, we have to get five of seven girls to have a big day," he said. "Recently, we've been having three or four real strong performances. At the state meet, there are a lot of kids that are in the race that don't effect team standings, so we have certain spots where we need kids to finish."

A pair of Lady Trojans – Yourkavitch and Kaylee Mowery – are in the hunt for state medals. The top 25 in Class AAA earn hardware.

"Abby wants a top-10 finish, and she has the potential to be quite a bit higher than that," Monheim said. "Kaylee is a strong finisher, so she needs to be in good position early in the race. If she goes out like she usually does, she has a shot at being there."

Southern Fulton's boys team finished 16th last year in Class A, and Glodek will be looking to improve upon his individual finish of 158th a year ago. The boys Class A race will begin at 11:45 a.m., preceded by the girls Class AAA race.

Hayden is embarking on his first PIAA appearance, and the boys Class AAA will start at 1:15 p.m.