Gerlach Repeats as District Champ

To view photos of all of Friday’s action, visit the Photo Gallery by clicking on the following link:

By Ben Reese

BETHLEHEM: If one championship is nice, two is much better.

You can ask Pennridge senior Tori Gerlach about that after she captured her second straight District One girls cross country championship over the three-mile course at Lehigh University.

As it was at the Suburban One League championships a week earlier, Gerlach had to battle with North Penn's Meghan McGovern throughout the race. But there was an added obstruction to her repeat win, Strath Haven's Hannah Grossman.

The three ran together nearly the entire race until Gerlach finally broke away near the end.

“We started out in a huge pack,” she said, “and, at about the mile, we kind of broke away and it was just us three.”

That didn't make it any easier for Gerlach, however. She had several goals she wanted to hit along the way.

“I knew I was going to go out in 5:30 (for the first mile) or something,” she explained. “My goal was to just keep it up the entire way.”

And she did. As the trio headed toward the cornfield, which marks the final mile of the course, Gerlach held a slight lead over Grossman with McGovern a very close third.

Gerlach took over the lead for good when the threesome came to the straightaway which heads toward the finish line. She held onto to it to finish in 17:39.

“My goal was to try and break 17:40 and I knew I had to go out fast,” Gerlach said. “I wanted to keep pushing the entire time.”

McGovern, who was second to Gerlach in the SOL Continental race at Lehigh, got past Grossman to take second to Gerlach again, finishing five seconds behind in 17:44. Grossman ran a 17:46.

“I finished second again,” McGovern said with a slight laugh. “It's not good that I finished second but it's all right because Tori is a really good runner.

“I passed Hannah right at the end so we were all really close. I wanted to go out and be in the lead group, which was the hardest part because there were more people.

“Last year, I was seventh and my sophomore year I was second so it's good to be second. Our team got the fifth spot, so it should be good (at states).”

The fifth spot McGovern referred to is the fifth team place, which means that the North Penn team will be going to the state championships as a group. Joining McGovern will be Courtney Kern (41st), Rachel Brown (56th), Jenna Reimer (73rd) and Janki Patel (80th).

First in line in the team standings is Pennsbury, repeating its finish of last year and pointing the Falcons toward a repeat of their state team title of 2010.

Both Ann Herman and Sara Sargent finished in the top ten with Herman grabbing fifth and Sargent sixth. Erin O'Connell was 17th, Erica Gray 18th and Elizabeth Wedekind 23rd, putting all five scorers in the top 25.

“I think we've got it,” Sargent said before the final results were announced, “which is good because our spots (places) didn't turn out like they were supposed to be and we still pulled it off.”

Pennsbury finished with 69 points. That total was slightly more than half of runner-up Unionville (130). West Chester Henderson (132), Downingtown East (158) and North Penn (252) rounded out the five teams heading to states.

Individually, Suburban One teams put five runners in the top 10 places. In addition to Gerlach and McGovern, Pennridge placed Marissa Sheva in fourth while Pennsbury had Herman and Sargent.

Gerlach knows what she has to do at states, which will be held at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“The courses (district and state) are so different,” she said, “so you have to run them differently. It won't be as hard because I won't have to (kick) as much.”

For a complete list of both the team and individual results, click on the following link: