CENTER VALLEY – The Northwestern girls cross country team had three goals coming into the season.
The Tigers accomplished one by completing an undefeated season last week, and even without their top runner in peak condition, they weren't about to be denied checking the second objective off their list.
Led by an under-the-weather Haley Yost, Northwestern was far and away the top girls team at the Colonial League championship meet held yesterday at DeSales University. The Tigers placed three girls in the top 10 and seven in the top 18 to win the league meet crown by 41 points over Notre Dame Green Pond. It's their second straight Colonial League title.
Next week they'll run for the third item on their season checklist when they go for the school's first District 11 title since 2009.
"I've been real happy with them all year," head coach Chris Stitzel said. "It's a credit to all the work they put in this summer. We give them a challenge and they go for it. They were hungry all season."
Yost, who's led the team all season, had high hopes coming into the league meet. But the junior hasn't been feeling well this week and needed to buckle down yesterday. She completed the hilly track in 20:04.17, good enough for third place behind Saucon Valley's Elizabeth Chikotas and Bangor's Meredith Colton.
While it wasn't the result Yost had hoped for, it was more than enough to lead her team.
"I'm just trying to think about districts," Yost said. "Sure its leagues and its what I've worked for all season, but I'm trying to stay positive.
"Our team went into this just as if it was the beginning of the season again and we just want to keep showing that we're the best team in the league."
Rachel Cerrone finished fifth and Carly Pierce was seventh for the Tiger girls. The team's second pack of runners was led by Erin Ondush (12th), with Katrina Hartman (15th) and Zoe Strickland (16th) closely behind her.
Yost wasn't the only Tiger runner not at 100 percent on Wednesday. Tyler Stelmack, considered one of the favorites, finished a surprising fourth on the boys side. Stelmack ran his normal race, staying just off the lead at the two-mile mark. But he wasn't able to overtake Wilson's Jaryd Flank, the eventual winner, down the stretch and was also passed by Salisbury's Kyle Gonoude and Catasauqua's Anthony Brinkley.
Stelmack's finish was still tops among area runners and he'll also look to improve his performance at districts next Wednesday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.
"I was trying to work the hills as best I could, and I kind of did," Stelmack said. "But I'm not a great downhill runner and they got me on the downhills and kind of broke away.
"I think a lot of it was a mental thing. I was extremely nervous coming into this race today and I think that played a factor."
The Tiger boys finished second to Bangor in the team standings, falling 50-59. Ryan Cerrone took eighth to earn a medal, while Patrick Strobel (14th), Brayden Heller (15th) and Thomas Duffy (18th) rounded out the top five.
1. Northwestern (NW) 42, 2. Notre Dame Green Pond (NDGP) 83, 3. Bangor (B) 106, 4. Southern Lehigh (SL) 106, 5. Wilson (W) 118, 6. Saucon Valley (SV) 125, 7. Notre Dame East Stroudsburg (NDES) 209, 8. Moravian Academy (MA) 235, 9. Palmerton (Palm) 253, 10. Palisades (Pali) 254, 11. Salisbury (S) 270, 12. Northern Lehigh (NL) 272
1. Elizabeth Chikotas (SV) 19:26.8, 2. Meredith Colton (B) 19:37.68, 3. Haley Yost (NW) 20:04.17, 4. Shelby White (SL) 20:14.5, 5. Rachel Cerrone (NW) 20:27.8, 6. Meseret Hart (SL) 20:38.75, 7. Carly Pierce (NW) 20:42.11, 8. Sydney Brannon (W) 20:43.69, 9. Katherine Downing (NDGP) 21:04.04, 10. Erika Edwards (NDGP) 21:38.02, 11. Vianna Crowley (B) 22:09.53, 12. Erin Ondush (NW) 22:12.35, 13. Julia Sjodahl (W) 22:19.05, 14. Christina Scartellia (NDGP) 22:24.56, 15. Katrina Hartman (NW) 22:25.18, 16, 16. Zoe Strickland (NW) 22:25.66, 17. Kieran Madden (MA) 22:31.52, 18. Lauren Alden (NW) 22:32.92,19. Angelica Bertola (NDES) 22:40.87, 20. Courtney Krechel (NDES) 22:42.76
Other local finishers in the top 50
26. Rachel Hendrix (NL) 23:05.55, 47. Kyla Rodrigues (Palm) 24:29.9, 49. Nina Schnyder (NL) 24:41.67, 50. Amanda Mann (Palm)24::41.99
1. Bangor (B) 50, 2. Northwestern (NW) 59, 3. Salisbury (S) 114, 4. Catasauqua (C) 119, 5. Wilson (W) 129, 6. Southern Lehigh (SL) 166, 7. Notre Dame Green Pond (NDGP) 176, 8. Moravian Academy (MA) 190, 9. Saucon Valley (SV) 224, 10. Northern Lehigh (NL) 226, 11. Palmerton (Palm) 256, 12. Notre Dame East Stroudsburg (NDES) 268, 13. Palisades (Pali) 332, 14. Pen Argyl (PA) 421
1. Jaryd Flank (W) 16:59.42, 2. Kyle Gonoude (S) 17:09.66, 3. Anthony Brinkley (C) 17:22.91, 4. Tyler Stelmack (NW) 17:34.07, 5. Ryan McGinty (SL) 17.39.73, 6. Charlie Sell (B) 17:41.67, 7. Shane Reider (B) 17:44.8, 8. Ryan Cerrone (NW) 17:47.57, 9. Michael Koons (NDGP) 17:50.07, 10. Wade White (B) 17:51.35, 11. Brandon Tocket (B) 17:53.62, 12. Nathan Fritzinger (SV) 17.57.1, 13. Garrett Collins (S) 17:59.48, 14. Patrick Strobel (NW) 18:05.33, 15. Brayden Heller (NW) 18:08.42, 16. Andrew Mitchell (B) 18:13.88, 17. Anthony Calantoni (W) 18:26.58, 18. Thomas Duffy (NW) 18:27.05, 19. Greg Fry (S) 18:27.53, 20. Jarett White (NW) 18:28.61
Other local finishers in the top 50
25. Matt Pender (NL) 18:39.55, 27. Gavin Kemrey (NL) 18:47.09, 33. Mitchell Evans (NW) 19:02.82, 34. Sean Seiler (Palm) 19:04.99, 40. David Fitzpatrick (Palm) 19:11.96, 43. Alex Hoffner (NL) 19:15.96, 45. Zach Svetik (Palm) 19:17.46