T-D HS Cross Country

Simendinger, Dorian and Red Devils claim gold

By: Cory Isenberg

SIDMAN — Penn Cambria’s Arlee Simendinger and Westmont Hilltop’s Hannah Dorian were first-time champions at Saturday’s District 6 Cross Country Championships, but the winning tradition is something that the Central Cambria team is very familiar with.
“This is the ninth consecutive district championship and the 12th in my 14 years,” said Red Devils coach Randy Wilson after his team claimed the Class A crown. “This has to be one of the sweetest. We have no seniors on the team in the top seven.
“It doesn’t get old, but this year is probably more special because both the girls and boys teams won. This is the fourth time since I’ve been here that that’s happened. I told the kids that I wanted two things for my birthday which was on Monday - two district titles - and they brought them home in pretty dominant fashion.”
The Red Devils finished with 35 points while Penn Cambria was second with 83 points and also will advance to the state meet which is set for Saturday in Hershey. Penns Valley (93 points), Marion Center (95) and Cambria Heights (144) rounded out the top five.
Central Cambria’s highest finisher was freshman Samantha Koss, who was second in 19:38.8. The other Red Devils finishers included: Emma Wess (third), Sydney Gilkey (sixth), Jordan Hayward (12th), Jackie Bracken (15th), Kaitlyn McKeel (16th) and Hannah Swope (17th).
Simendinger, who won the Class A crown in 19:27.7, said she was very honored to win the district title and make her second trip to the state championships.
“I never thought this would happen,” she said. “This wasn’t my best time, but I’ll take it. I definitely felt that the home stretch was the strongest part of the course for me. I could definitely increase my speed.”
The Panthers runner said the race was very nerve-wracking for her.
“I didn’t look back but I was on my edge for someone to come up on me,” she said. “There were some rough patches on the course that you had to be careful of your footing.”
Penn Cambria’s Sara Clauto was 10th overall. The other Panthers team qualifiers are: Shelly Pompa (21st), Danielle Pompa (28th), Monica Lee (30th), Sarah Hurley (54th) and Alli Reese (65th).
The other area qualifiers for the state meet in Class A are: Allyson Kopera of Northern Cambria, Tori Kocsis of Richland, Ryleigh Ludwig of United and Harley Nelen of Cambria Heights.
In Class AA, Dorian won in 19:04.1 and will make her second trip to the state meet.
“This was my goal since my freshman year, to one day be district champ,” Dorian said. “My last finish at the conference meet was a little faster than today, but I still felt that I was able to push. Definitely, knowing the course helped out and once we started out, I felt good so I just kept picking it up.”
The Hilltoppers runner had her own personal cheering section in attendance for her race.
“There’s a wedding this evening and I have a big family with 10 siblings,” Dorian said. “Both my parents have nine siblings, so they were all dispersed throughout the crowd.”
Somerset was the team champion in Class AA with 42 points followed by Westmont Hilltop (54), Ligonier Valley (91), Forest Hills (100) and Bellefonte (120).
“Last year was the first time the girls won the team title,” Somerset coach Tom Minnick said. “To do it again this year is big for the girls. They put a lot of work and effort into it this year. Earlier in the year, we weren’t running quite as well. It was sort of the same MO as last year that we had been beaten by a lot of LHAC during the year and came on during the conference meet and were able to squeeze past a good Westmont team today at districts.”
The highest Golden Eagles finisher was Jane Woy, who was second in 20:14.6. The other Somerset finishers were: Haylee Rohrer (third), Rebecca Herwig (fifth), Caroline Heckman (15th), Lexi Overcash (17th), Sarah Strope (25th) and Anna Chan (28th).
The other area qualifiers for the state meet in Class AA are Dorian’s Westmont teammate Maura Glennon and Tricia Varner of Forest Hills.