Tamaqua's girls learned a valuable lesson during the Schuylkill League Cross Country Championships.
It is this: when the chip is down, pick it up and keep going.
Led by Amber Carroll's second place finish, the Lady Raiders were able to edge Blue Mountain for their first Schuylkill All-League Meet title since 2004.
The Schuylkill Meet returned to Tuscarora State Park in Barnesville after a one-year absence, and race conditions were ideal Wednesday on the 3.1 mile course, with sunny skies and warm, 60 degree temperatures, not to mention the flaming fall foliage.
Individually, Pottsville's Paige Stoner captured the girls varsity race, while North Schuylkill's Brendan Shearn was the boys varsity champ.
Since capturing the Truskey Memorial 5K Run on much the same course in August, Stoner, the Crimson Tide's freshman phenom, has been breaking course records on a regular basis. She did it again this time, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 57 seconds, over two minutes ahead of Carroll, who was clocked at 20:08.
The old course record was 18:48.4, set by Tamaqua's Liz Manness in 1999.
"I felt really good," said Stoner. "I wanted to beat my Truskey Run time (18:40). I think this is a real confidence booster for Districts (which will be held Oct. 28 at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course)."
Tamaqua boasted two former league meet champs in its line-up with Carroll, the 2008 winner, and Schuyler Schmidt, who took the gold in 2007, and had swept unbeaten to the Division I crown.
Once the race started, however, Schmidt realized that she had lost the microchip attached to her shoe. The chip is used by the electronic scoring system to record the race results. Schmidt stopped and retrieve it, although it cost her some extra seconds.
"Luckily, Schuyler was smart enough to run back and grab it," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger.
Schmidt's wayward chip wasn't the lone obstacle for the Raiders.
"We have some health issues, but I can't complain," said Kanger after watching the Lady Tams edge Blue Mountain 53-57 to add the 2010 league meet title to those won in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2004. "It's nice to be able to come here and win when we're not at 100 percent."
"For the past two weeks, I've had a hip injury and it seems to be getting worse," related Carroll, who said she is scheduled for an MRI next week. "I'm glad I was able to do what I did today."
The Raiders packed their top five runners in the top 20. Following Carroll were Colleen Rorke (ninth), Schmidt (11th), Cecily Kohlmeir (15th) and Dana Ansbach (20th). Rounding out the Tamaqua contingent were Emily Bumbulsky (22nd) and Jessica Leiby (31st).
"I don't think we ran that great, but as long as we win, that's all that matters," said Schmidt.
"I'm happy we got this, but we could have done better," said Ansbach. "We want to show what we can do at Districts."
Among other TIMES NEWS area runners, Panther Valley senior Sindle Griffiths ran a strong fourth in 20:43, her best finish since placing second as a freshman.
"I'm so happy," said Griffiths, who has battled asthma and acid reflux problems that interfere with her breathing when she runs. "Mentally, I knew I could do it, but I didn't know about physically. I proved that I could still do it."
Jim Thorpe's Kayla Susko finished sixth overall at 21:07 in leading the Olympians to a fifth place team finish.
Marian was led by Molly Balliet's 13th place, while Weatherly's top runner was Devon Bizarre, who placed 33rd.
Vack, Thorpe lead
North Schuylkill's Shearn took top honors among the boys at 16:16, almost a minute faster than the runner-up, Kyler Burke of Pine Grove.
"I'm happy with that," said Shearn. "I wanted to go out real hard and finish strong."
Pottsville captured its first league meet title since 2002, edging Division I rival Blue Mountain in a tight race, 51-59.
The top TN area finisher in the boys race was Weatherly's Andrew Vack, who finished 16th at 18:18.
"It was a good race for me, and this is my best time so far," noted Vack. "I like this course. I've been here several times, and it's almost as memorable for me as my own home course."
Jim Thorpe packed its seven runners just 1:02 seconds apart, starting with Josh Williams at 17th and including Chris Boyd (22nd), Adam Dachowicz (23rd), Matt Curran (24th), Christian Fields (28th), Nathanial Flick (29th) and Zach Nace (31st). That led the Olympians to a third place finish in the team race with 114 points.
"We really came together as a pack and had our best race of the season," said Williams as Thorpe's top five were separated by just 44 seconds.
Marian's top runner was Connor Schleicher (32nd), and Tamaqua was topped by Joe Rudy (33rd). Panther Valley was led by Austin Karnish in 60th place.
JV, junior high
In the JV boys race, Thorpe's Darren Gehres and Weatherly's Cody Hoffman placed second and third, respectively, behind winner Chey Jones of Pottsville.
In girls JV, Tamaqua's Juliana Lesniak was runner-up to North Schuylkill's Brooke Ennis.
Jim Thorpe won the junior high boys team race with 36 points, ahead of Blue Mountain's 61.Jacob Saxon of Thorpe was the overall winner in 11:50.
In girls junior high, Tamaqua's Claire Frank was the top area finisher in seventh place.