The weather presented a true challenge on Wednesday at the Schuylkill League Cross Country Championships.
On top of the wet and windy conditions at Tuscarora State Park, the competition didn't make things any easier on the 3.1 mile course at for the TIMES NEWS area harriers involved.
Even two-time league medalists Amber Carroll of Tamaqua admitted the competition has improved over the years. That didn't stop the Blue Raider senior from coming away with another league medal, however.
Carroll, who captured gold as a freshman and silver as a junior, picked up a bronze medal yesterday.
"The league is a lot more difficult now than when I was a freshman," Carroll said. "I'm just happy with coming away with another medal in my final league meet."
For the second year in a row, it was Pottsville's Paige Stoner who beat Carroll to the finish line for top honors.
This time around though, Carroll watched Stoner's teammate Grace Casey grab the silver medal.
Tamaqua's Kelsey Patrick made her first and last Schuylkill League Championships a memorable one by following right behind her classmate.
The Blue Raider senior finished in fourth a second behind Carroll and was one of six local girls to earn top-20 medals. Jim Thorpe's Caitlin Liscinski, Erin Bucci and Courtney Capper finished 16th, 17th and 19th respectively while Tamaqua's Cecily Kohlmeir was 20th.
"The weather wasn't the greatest," Patrick said. "It was definitely slippery. So, it made it hard at times.
"It definitely means a lot to medal. I didn't even expect winning a medal today."
Runners from North Schuylkill, Pottsville, Blue Mountain, Mahanoy Area and Pine Grove made things difficult for any local boy to steal the Schuylkill League championship spotlight.
It was the Spartans' Brendan Shearn who blew away the field with a first-place finish in a time of 15:39. The Tides' Jake Plachko was over a minute behind to finish in second-place.
Jim Thorpe's Jonathan Condly led the way for the locals by sprinting side-by-side with Marian's Phil Marzen to the finish line. The Olympian freshman edged the Colts' junior by a mere second as the two finished 13th and 14th respectively.
The Olympians' Chris Boyd and Christian Fields also earned medals finishing in 16th and 18th place respectively.
Condly was all smiles when talking about his first appearance at the league championships.
"It's amazing," Condly said. "It just feels great to finish the way I did today."
For Marzen, it wasn't the way he thought the league meet would pan out. Still, the Colt stated this will serve as motivation for next week's events at the District 11 meet at Bethlehem Municipal.
"I really know now how much I have to work for districts next week," Marzen said. "Honestly, district is what really counts for me now because of the state qualifying time and everything like that. So, I know I have to really try harder than what I did today.
"On one side, I'm proud of myself because I had a good time. But, at the same time, 14th place wasn't anywhere close to what I was looking at. I was looking at something a lot better than that."
1. Pottsville 21, 2. North Schuylkill 76, 3. Blue Mountain 96, 4. Tamaqua 114, 5. Jim Thorpe 126, 6. Mahanoy Area 134, 7. Minersville 174, 8. Shenandoah Valley 224, 9. Marian Catholic 268, 10. Pine Grove Area 277, 11. Schuylkill Haven 289, 12. Weatherly 294.
1. Paige Stoner (P) 18:30, 2. Grace Casey (P) 19:57, 3. Amber Carroll (T) 20:19, 4. Kelsey Patrick (T) 20:20, 5. Haylee Burnhauser (P) 20:37.
16. Caitlin Liscinski (JT) 22:03, 17. Erin Bucci (JT) 22:09, 19. Courtney Capper (JT) 22:25, 20. Cecily Kohlmeir (T), 24. Kayla Susko (JT) 23:01, 26. Emma Boyle (Marian) 23:11, 31. Emily Bumbulsky (T) 23:37, 38. Molly Balliet (Marian) 23:57, 43. Andrea Dietrich (W) 24:21, 50. Breanna Gehres (JT) 24:57, 51. Emily Ruffa (JT) 25:01, 52. Suzanne Reigle (W) 25:10, 53. Caitlin Henninger (JT) 25:20, 56. Alexandria Miller (T) 25:38, 58. Stefanie Gensure (T) 25:46, 60. Briana O'Donnell (Marian) 25:59, 61. Tiana Genetti (W) 26:01, 69. Devon Bizarre (W) 27:24, 70. Amanda Srinivasan (Marian) 27:41, 71. Erin Dougherty (W) 28:14, 75. Katlin Vack (W) 29:32, 77. Mary Susan McAndrew (Marian) 31:19.
1. Pottsville 34, 2. North Schuylkill 70, 3. Blue Mountain 82, 4. Jim Thorpe 94, 5. Mahanoy Area 140, 6. Schuylkill Haven 202, 7. Pine Grove Area 207, 8. Tamaqua 234, 9. Marian Catholic 239, 10. Minersville 279, 11. Weatherly 292, 12. Nativity BVM 320, 13. Shenandoah Valley 335.
1. Brendan Shearn (NS) 15:39, 2. Jake Plachko (P) 16:50, 3. Sam Kantner (BM) 17:01, 4. Doug Wells (MA) 17:16, 5. Codi Wood (P) 17:46.
13. Johnathan Condly (JT) 18:36, 14. Phil Marzen (Marian) 18:37, 16. Chris Boyd (JT) 18:46, 18. Christian Fields (JT) 19:00, 23. Jacob Saxon (JT) 19:15, 24. Zach Nace (JT) 19:26, 28. Robert Taylor (JT) 19:39, 30. Darren Gehres (JT) 19:46, 34. Dave Fredericks (T) 20:00, 35. Zachary Oliveria (T) 20:14, 41. Nicholas Hopeck (Marian) 20:38, 42. Matt Caccese (W) 20:40, 47. Steven Matukonis (T) 20:59, 51. Dylan Hascher (Marian) 21:11, 52. Cody Hoffman (W) 21:12, 54. Robert Slovik (T) 21:25, 55. Alex Sirkot (W) 21:28, 64. Matt Stahler (T) 22:01, 65. Thomas Betzler (T) 22:11, 66. Jordynn Fatzinger (T) 22:17, 70. Christian Nonnemacher (Marian) 22:39, 71. Lucas Rinker (W) 22:53, 72. Matt Cullen (W) 23:18, 73. Michael Embick (W) 23:31, 75. Jared Nyler (W) 24:35