Upper St. Clair made history when its girls team qualified for the PIAA championships. It is the first time in school history that the Lady Panthers advanced to the state meet as a team.
The Lady Panthers finished third in the team standing with 122 points.
North Allegheny won the team title with a 42 score. Seneca Valley followed as the runner-up with 89 points.
“We are super proud of the ladies and how they ran,” said USC skipper Doug Petrick.
“They all raced as they have all season,” he continued. “I think the key was they were calm. They were excited and they kind of bonded with each other and had a tremendous performance.”
Claire Hoffman, Molly Maher and Vianna Shiry finished within two seconds of each other and placed 18th, 20th and 21st overall. Sophia Shi and Jillian Fishell were neck and neck at the finish line with a one-second separation to finish 31st and 32nd.
Jaclyn Martinelli and Carly Abraham completed the pack as USC’s times ranged from 20:36 to 22:59.
The Lady Panthers have modest hopes for the state finals. USC wants to finish in the Top 10 in the Class AAA division.
“It’s a good mix,” Petrick said of his line-up, which includes a pair of seniors, juniors and sophomores and one freshman. “It’s 100 percent a great foundation for the future but we won’t look forward to next year until after states. But we we are very pleased with the culture created here and it’s helped to move things forward.”
Hodgson to states
Alison Hodgson of Mt. Lebanon earned a berth in the PIAA championships. The junior placed 23rd during the WPIAL finals with a 20:42 time.
According to Oscar Schutt, Hodgson sealed her state berth with a strong showing in the third mile of the race.
“She ran strong there and put herself in a good position,” said the Lebo head coach. “We are really excited for Allison,” he added.
A standout 800-meter runner in track, Hodgson is out for cross country for the first time. She was a state qualifier in the 800 this past spring.
“Alison wants to enhance her running,” Schutt said of her decision to run cross country. “This is the next step to try and get her to reach that next level. We are very excited to see what the state meet holds and the track season this spring.”
Emily Carter captured the bronze medal in the highly competitive Class AAA girls’ race. The Bethel Park junior clocked a 19:04 to finish behind WPIAL champion Mia Cochran of Moon (18:14) and Hannah Lindgren of North Allegheny (18:59).
In other girls’ action, Theresa Lyle from Seton LaSalle and Erin LaQuarta from Bishop Canevin earned berths in the PIAA Class A championships.
A junior, Lyle placed 12th overall with a 22:25 time.
A sophomore, LaQuartra finished 18th with a 22:53 time.
Also for the Crusaders, Trey Varley qualified in the Class A boys’ competition. The sophomore clocked in at 18:33 for a Top 26 finish.