She made her presence felt when she placed eighth overall but her time was just a few seconds under 19 minutes.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, Wilson solidified her reputation as one of the premier runners in the state when she captured the bronze medal at Friday morning's District 1 Girls' Class AAA Championships. She crossed with a time of 18:22 and was the top area finisher in the huge district meet at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus.

"I wanted to go out hard so I could stay with the front pack," said Wilson. "It was a packed start so I had to get out fast. My mile time was average and I was probably fifth at the mile. The Unionville girl (winner Katie Thaeder) was out front and then was a pack.

"I was in second place for most of the race - leading a pack of about 10. It was challenging. I was trying to close on Thaeder. It helped to have her out there because it kept me moving.

"I was also trying to open a gap on the pack because I knew the finish would be real hard. But every time I picked it up, they went with me. The Downingtown West girl (Joanna Horstmann) passed me in the last 200. She was going. I was sprinting and she came right by me."

Wilson qualified for next Saturday's PIAA Class AAA Championships as did her teammate Serita Lachesis, who was 38th at 19:23. The Trojans finished ninth in the team standings with 335 points.

Unionville won the district title with 62, followed by West Chester Henderson (184), Council Rock North (203), Strath Haven (208), Hatboro Horsham (273), Upper Dublin (289), Great Valley (309) and North Penn (311). The top six were team qualifiers for the state meet.

"This is great," said Upper Dublin coach Paul Vandegrift. "This is my first team in six years that qualified for states. All of our girls ran really well today."

The Cardinals' scorers were by Heather Calisto (eighth, 18:31), Lauren Bowles (20th, 19:03), Nadia McMillan (69th, 19:52), Alexandra McMillan (96th, 20:14) and Jarlene Choy (114th, 20:25).

"I liked this course because it was more flat," said Calisto. "But the race got harder each mile. I was in fourth place at the two-mile and then started to feel it during the third mile. Two girls passed me in the last half-mile."

Other individual qualifiers for the PIAA meet next week were Upper Merion's Allison Andreyko (12th, 18:45), Perkiomen Valley's Brittany Long (17th, 18:56), Norristown's Melissa Koebel (31st, 19:14), Mount Saint Joseph's Katie McClernand (39th, 19:25) and North Penn's Cheryl Dingman (40th, 19:25).

"My mile was 5:40 and that's the fastest I've run all season," said Long. "I felt great. I was starting to pick it up and almost caught up to Upper Perk's Kristin Reed. Then, the more I picked it up, the more I got tired. But, I wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of making states."

In the Class AA Championships, Gwynedd-Mercy Academy finished second with 56 points while St. Basil's Academy took the title with 38. Gwynedd's scorers were Kate Vernon (fifth), Kate Ross (eighth), Kelly McEldrew (10th), Cristina Kramer (15th) and Caitlin McEldrew (18th).

"This wasn't a good race for me," said Vernon. "There was a tight pack until the last mile. That was good because it was pulling me through. But, I definitely lost the race in the last mile."

Upper Merion's Ronak Patel and Wissahickon's Jordan Hill were the area's top two runners at last week's Suburban One League American Conference Championships with Patel getting the bronze medal and Hill finishing one place better in second.

At Friday's District 1 Boys' Class AAA Championships at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus, Patel turned the tables on hill. The Upper Merion senior placed 22nd with a clocking of 16:00.

The only other area finishers in the top 30 were North Penn's Sean Doyle (24th, 16:01) and Cody Edling (30th, 16:04). All three qualified for next Saturday's PIAA Class AAA Championships at Hershey.

"I went out slow and was pretty far back at the mile," said Patel. "There were so many people ahead of me. Then I picked up the pace in the second mile.

"I was running in a big pack and was around 30th at the two-mile. I started picking off more people in the third mile. And my kick was really good today. I passed three people in the last 100 meters."

Edling, a North Penn junior, said, "My race was all right - 25 seconds faster than last year. I felt good for the first one-and-a-half to two miles but the third mile killed me. I was mentally tired.

"I was in the top 15 at they mile and around 20th at the two-mile. I dropped back a bit but then came back and picked off three people in the last 800. I need track to get my speed back."

Coatesville won the team title with 73 points and was joined in the top 10 by Council Rock South (196), Council Rock North (225), West Chester East (228), Hatboro-Horsham (253), Downingtown West (260), Central Bucks South (322), Souderton (344), Pennridge (351) and Unionville (353). North Penn was 12th at 357 and Wissahickon 13th at 390.

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