BETHLEHEM – Both Tyler Stelmack and Amber Carroll hung with the leader as long as they could then held on. Both were able to keep their second-place position and run to silver medals at Thursday's District 11 Cross Country Championships.
Stelmack, the Colonial League champion, ran the boys Class AA race in 17:02, finishing behind only North Schylkill's Brendan Shearn, who won the title in 16:33.
Carroll took second in the girls Class AA race in 21:01, finishing behind Katherine Downing of Notre Dame (Green Pond), who won the race in 20:34.
"We were together until like a mile and a half," Carroll said. "Then I just tried to keep my pace and not let anyone pass me."
A two-time state qualifier who missed out on states last season, Carroll was pleased with Thursday's race despite wet, sloppy conditions on the Bethlehem Municipal Course.
"I got the time I usually get and it's pretty messy out," she said. "I didn't make it (to states) last year so I just wanted to make it this year. That was my goal all season. Making it is just a relief off your shoulders."
Stelmack, in just his second season running cross country, improved upon last year's sixth-place.
He knew Shearn was the favorite and kept up until the last mile.
"I feel great," Stelmack said. "I came into this race wanting to stick with the North Schuylkill kid as long as I could and I did that. I wanted to use him as a pace and I'm happy with second place. I was about five or 10 seconds behind most of the way."
Stelmack will have a large group of teammates along with him at next week's state meet, which will be held in Hershey on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Northwestern teammate Joey Duffy qualified for states with a 14th-place finish and Northwestern's girls team placed second in Class AAA to earn a team berth into states.
Northwestern girls were led by Haley Yost's fifth-place finish. After placing 17th last season and missing a state qualifying spot by three places and five seconds, Yost set her goals for this year.
"Last year after districts I made goals for myself and one of them was top 5 at districts," said the Northwestern sophomore. "To make my goals that I planned last year feels absolutely amazing."
Northwestern's top five girls finished in the top 25 as freshmen Rachele Cerrone (12th) and Carly Pierce (16th) made the top 20, while seniors Emma Kemmerer (22nd) and Erica Sarnicky (25th) rounded out the scoring as the Lady Tigesr finished just 13 points behind district champ Parkland in the team standings.
Carroll will also have a teammate at states. Tamaqua senior Kelsey Patrick placed fifth in the girls Class AA race.
"I thought I ran all right considering the conditions," she said. "It was hard to get your footing it was so muddy. I kept slipping. I'm just happy I made it (to states)."
Patrick, who is in her first year running cross country, knew she had a good shot to make states after placing fourth at this year's Schuylkill League Championships.
Lehighton freshman JenBeers placed also earned a district medal, which went to the top 10 finishers in each race. Beers ran the girls in 21:38 for 10th place.
"I feel great about my performance," she said.
A consistent top-5 finisher in regular season meets, Beers' goal in her first district meet was to earn a state-qualifying place. She did that easily as the top 15 girls in Class AA will all run in Hershey next weekend.
Having run the Bethlehem course at last week's Mountain Valley Conference Championships, Beers decided on spikes over running sneakers on the wet course. The weather didn't bother her during the race.
"I actually liked it because I think I run better in the rain," Beers said.
Several other area runners earned qualified for states. The top 10 runners (top 11 for boys Class AA) that are not part of state qualifying teams earn a trip to next week's state championships.
In girls Class AA, Palmerton's Andrea Stevko (11th) and Northern Lehigh's Samantha Corcoran (12th) both made the cut.
"I would have liked to medal because last year I got 10th place," Corcoran said. "I would have liked to be higher, but just making it to states is fine with me."
In Class AA boys, Northwetsern's Joey Duffy earned the right to accompany his teammates next weekend in Hershey. Duffy placed 14th to earn a spot in the state meet.