BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP - Tyler Stelmack wanted another shot at the league meet since the second last year's meet ended. His excitement had been building for monthsuntil he finall got his chance and made the most of it Thursday.
The Northwestern junior topped the field by 25 seconds in winning this year's Colonial League title.
"I've been waiting for this day since the end of last year," said Stelmack. "I was telling people this morning my nervous level was like mid-way. At the starting line I was bursting through."
Northwestern celebrated two champions at the meet, which was held at Moravian Academy. The Lady Tigers girls team placed its top five runners in the top 14 places to take the girls team title.
Stelmack finished the boys race in 16:39.2 with Wilson's Jaryd Flank (17:05.1) well behind.
Stelmack ran with the lead pack as the team started into a west wind. When the course turned around, with the wind at his back, he pulled away.
"After the first mile I started separating myself more," he said. "Everybody was kind of packed together in the start because the wind was in our faces."
Since finishing 14th last year while running a fever at the league meet, Stelmack looked forward to returning and competing for the title. He had been training to run at DeSales, but the meet was moved because of a wet course. The decision was made yesterday to run at Moravian, a much flatter track.
"I was preparing for the hills [at DeSales]," Stelmack said. "We were doing hill work outs. To switch from a course that has no hills to a course that isn't really hilly at all throws off the training a little bit."
The change didn't seem to throw off Stelmack, who is in just his second year of cross country after playing football freshman year.
"From last year to now I've come such a long way," he said. "I just want to keep improving into districts."
He heads into Class AA districts next week as one of the favorites. He finished sixth at districts last year, earning a trip to states in his first year as a competitive runner. His primary goal is to get back to Hershey this fall.
"The goal [for districts] is to get either first or second," Stelmack said. "But I would honestly be happy just getting to states again."
Northwestern's girls team is also looking to earn a spot at the state meet.
The Lady Tigers won the girls meet by 13 points over Notre Dame (Green Pond) with Haley Yost taking second place overall.
"I'm super excited and proud of myself," said Yost, a sophomore. "I was sick for the majority of the season. To come back feels amazing."
Saucon Valley's Elizabeth Chikotas won the girls individual title in 19:21.20.
No one in the league could match Northwestern's depth. With Yost (19:53.3) in second place, senior Emma Kemerrer in sixth and a pack of Lady Tigers occupying 12th-15th place, Northwestern put its top six runners ahead of Notre Dame's fourth.
"The postseason is pretty much what you train for in the summer," said Emma Kemmerer. "It puts a lot of pressure on us, but we deal with pressure pretty well I think. We were just ready for it."
Rachele Cerrone (12th), Erica Sarnicky (13th) and Carly Pierce (14th) rounded out the scoring for Northwestern. Natalie Boehm (15th) and Katrina Hartman (23rd) were also part of the winning effort.
Unlike some of their league title teams in the recent past, Northwestern doesn't have one runner that always leads the way. Several different runners placed first for the team at dual meets, leading to a healthy competition among the teammates.
"You never know who's going to have an amazing day," said Boehm, a senior and a four-year varsity runner. "We just go in and everyone does their best and we see what happens. We all just try to run with each other and push each other."
"It makes for more competition on the team," said Kemmerer. "But it's definitely friendly competition. It's just a whole team effort."
Northwestern's girls head into next week's Class AAA district meet against strong competition, including Emmaus and Parkland. The Tigers have been competitive with those teams at invitationals this fall and have a very good shot to either win districts or get a top-two spot to earn a team berth into states.
"We're definitely excited," said Yost. "Just because we're not [Class] Double-A doesn't mean we're going to slow down. In order to be the best you have to beat the best. We're excited to get better competition at districts."
Palmerton and Northern Lehigh also ran at leagues.
Samantha Corcoran led the No. Lehigh girls, finishing 17th. Alex Hoffner (33rd) was Northern Lehigh's top boys finisher.
Palmerton's Mike Horvath (22nd) and Andrea Stevko (11th) were the top Bomber runners.
1. Northwestern (NW) 47, 2. Notre Dame - Green Pond (NDGP) 60, 3. Bangor (B) 103, 4. Southern Lehigh (SL) 105, 5. Wilson (W) 159, 6. Saucon Valley (SV) 175, 7. Pen Argyl (PA) 207, 8. Northern Lehigh (NL) 209, 9. Moravian Academy (MA) 226, 10. Palisades (Palis) 250, 11. Palmerton (Palm) 251, 12. Notre Dame - East Stroudsburg (NDES) 301, 13. Salisbury (Sal) 323.
1. Elizabeth Chikotas (SV) 19:21.2, 2. Haley Yost (NW) 19:53.3, 3. Colton Meredith (B) 19:55.9, 4. Katie Downing (NDGP) 20:01.0, 5. Casey McGinty (SL) 20:03.8.
Other local finishers
6. Emma Kemmerer (NW) 20:19.4, 11. Andrea Stevko (Palm) 20:45.6, 12. Rachele Cerrone (NW) 20:48.8, 13. Erica Sarnicky (NW) 20:49.5, 14. Carly Pierce (NW) 20:54.0, 15. Natalie Boehm (NW) 20:54.4, 17. Samantha Corcoran (NL) 21:00.0, 23. Katrina Hartman (NW) 21:44.1, 38. Bryanna Tomkins (NL) 22:28.6, 48. Rachel Barnett (NL) 23:18.8, 50. Aimee Oertner (NL) 23:35.5, 53. Leah Heffelfinger (Palm) 23:42.1, 56. Amanda Mann (Palm) 23:56.8, 59. Abbey Sauerwine (NL) 24:06.9, 62. Lindsey Pekurney (Palm) 24:27.7, 63. Brittani Hertzke (NL) 24:28.7, 76. Meghan Dailey (Palm) 26:48.7.
1. Bangor (B) 47, 2. Notre Dame - Green Pond (NDGP) 81, 3. Wilson (W) 127, 4. Southern Lehigh (SL) 137, 5. Saucon Valley (SV) 168, 6. Notre Dame - East Stroudsburg (NDES), 7. Northwestern (NW) 190, 8. Catasauqua (C) 205, 9. Palisades (Palis) 211, 10. Palmerton (Palm) 227, 11. Moravian Academy (MA) 237, 12. Salisbury (Sal) 296, 13. No. Lehigh (NL) 3123, 14. Pen Argyl (PA) 405.
1. Tyler Stelmack (NW) 16:39.20, 2. Jaryd Flank (W) 17:05.1, 3. Brett Gubitosi (NDGP) 17:10.4, 4. Wade White (B) 17:11.6, 5. Charlie Sell (B) 17:17.9.
Other local finishers
18. Joey Duffy (NW) 18:07.0, 22. Mike Horvath (Palm) 18:15.2, 30. David Fitzpatrick (Palm) 18:26.2, 33. Alex Hoffner (NL) 18:31.0, 37. John Achtermann (Palm) 18:37.1, 45. Matt Pender (NL) 18:53.5, 46. Ryan Cerrone (NW) 18:55.3, 62. Jarrett Trexler (NW) 19:35.5, 63. Brett Volk (NW) 19:36.6, 64. Kody Eckhart (Palm) 19:37.7, 68. Mitchell Evans (NW) 19:44.1, 70. Aaron Hofmann (NL) 19:48.4, 74. Josh Evans (Palm) 19:53.1, 76. Sean Seiler (Palm) 20:05.5, 80. Andrew Oertner (NL) 20:22.6, 82. Lucas Wehr (NW) 20:33.6, 84. Vaughn Reese (NL) 20:55.5, 85. Andrew Nosti (Palm) 20:56.1, 88. Andrew Tarafas (NL) 21:45.3, 89. Matt Egan (NL) 21:52.3.