For Jenna Lang of Bethel Park, it was runner-up or bust during the WPIAL Class AAA championship race at White Oak Park in McKeesport.
So she made a mad dash for the finish line.
“I really wanted to get second,” Lang said. “So the last 100 meters, I sprinted it in.”
The strategy worked. Lang finished ahead of everybody except Mia Cochran of Moon. The junior easily defended her WPIAL title, covering the 5-kilometer course in 17:46.
Lang followed with a silver-medal time of 18:22.
“I feel really good,” Lang said. “It was definitely a battle. Towards the last 800 was when I started to really kick it in.”
Though only a freshman, Lang has been tuned into running since she was 7. She started competing with the Pacers and in USA track and field events two years later. When she entered high school this fall, however, she focused completely on the cross country season.
She started the 2020 campaign taking third during the Red, White and Blue Classic. After winning the Mingo Classic, Lang finished second in the TSTCA championships held a week prior to the district finals.
“I have definitely been pushing hard this season to get to where I am,” Lang said.
For the PIAA championships, held Nov. 7 at the Parkview Cross Country Course in the Hershey Giant Center Complex, Lang had modest expectations. She knows the competition is stiff and features Cochran, who is the defending state champion.
“My goals are to get all-state,” Lang said. “Maybe even top 5.”
Within three years, however, Lang plans to claim the bigger prize.
“Definitely,” she said. “My goal is to win a WPIAL title and state championship.”
Lebo, USC in top 10
In the Class AAA team standings, the Lebo girls finished fourth while Upper St. Clair was eighth.
North Allegheny won the championship while Pine-Richland took runner-up honors and Seneca Valley took third.
For the Blue Devils, Caroline Adams led the way. She finished 19th overall with a 19:48 time.
Other contributors for the Lebo ladies were: Grace Goslin, Alison Hodgson, Logan St. John-Kletter, Grace Kreamer and Isabella Primm.
The Blue Devils’ future is bright as Adams, Goslin and John-Kletter are all freshmen and finished among the top 33 runners. Additionally, Kraemer is a sophomore. Hodgson and Primm are seniors.
Senior Claire Hoffman paced the Panthers, finishing 28th overall in 20:09. Juniors Molly Maher and Jaclyn Martinelli placed in the top 35 with times of 20:23 and 20:40, respectively.
Other top finishers were Lydia Rhodes, Morgan Meddings, Sophia Shi and Jillian Fishell.
The USC boys finished in 10th place as a team. Ryan Sarkett was the top finisher in 17th position with a 16:47 time.
Other contributors included Robert Shontz, Cole Jooste, Felipe Molacuri, Carter Gerlach, Evan Sarkett and Mark Moawad.