CENTER VALLEY — Ever since the Lackawanna League began its emphasis on "cluster meets," weekend invitationals have taken on ever-growing importance.
In the absence of ages-old dual meets, local coaches have begun taking their teams on the road to gain that invaluable experience en route to the District Two Championships.
Coach Lindsey Pender led her Honesdale runners to Center Valley this past weekend to compete in the DeSales University Centaur Invitational. This 34th annual event attracted elite programs from all over the state.
"I'm absolutely thrilled with how we did," Coach Pender told TWI Sports.
"You never know what will happen when you take a bunch of high school kids to a huge event live that. "You could do really well or you could get shut out. Thankfully, we did extremely well...better even than I ever expected. I'm incredibly proud of these kids."
Honesdale's girls varsity team led the way with a 5th place finish. The Lady Hornets accrued 166 points, just 26 behind 4th place Northwestern Lehigh.
Archbishop Wood (located in Warminster, just south of Doylestown in Bucks County) captured the overall crown with a score of just 90. Parkland was second at 100, while Boyertown wound up in third with 112.
The boys team put up a ferocious fight in a field of 24 teams, but finished up 20th with a score of 521. Parkland copped the title by placing all five of its runners among the top 35.
William Tennett (107), Perkiomen Valley (137), Bethlehem Freedom (190) and Holy Ghost (191) rounded out the top five.
Honesdale was slated to be back in action Tuesday evening for a cluster meet at Western Wayne. Stay tuned to TWI Sports for complete coverage in an upcoming edition.
Local distance running fans have become increasingly familiar with the name Summer Hill over the past six years.
A Honesdale senior, Hill authored a brilliant junior high career before moving up to varsity and dominating the Lackawanna League competition. Summer has already made three trips to the PIAA State Championships in cross country and track. This fall, she is poised to make yet another appearance on high school's biggest stage.
"Summer is an amazing runner," Coach Pender said. "She works so hard...and yet she's very humble, too. I think Summer is ready for a huge season. She's more relaxed and comfortable than I've ever seen her."
Hill brought all of her considerable talents to bear on the competition at DeSales and with electrifying results. Summer ran stride-for-stride with Bangor's Meredith Colton right from the start. Then, with the finish line just a few hundred meters away, she made her move.
"Those two were neck & neck the whole race," Coach Pender said. "Then, Summer kicked for home and the other girl didn't go with her. She just couldn't. It was amazing to see."
Page 2 of 2 - Hill stopped the clock at 19:39.62, good for the individual title and a 14-second magin of victory over Colton. To Coach Pender's knowledge, Summer is the first Lady Hornet ever to win at DeSales.
Katie Miller was next in for Honesdale, crossing the line at 21:46 in 25th place. She was chased home by teammate Haley West, who finished up at 21:53 (28th).
Lindsay Hilton also cracked the Top 40, posting a time of 22:16 (39th). Sydney Miller (25:17), Kelli Jackson (25:25) and Maggie O'Day (25:29) rounded out Honesdale's scoring.
"I'm very pleased with where we are at this point in the season," Coach Pender said. "The girls still have a long way to go, but I'm happy with the progress I'm seeing."
Honesdale's boys varsity squad battled fiercely in a huge field and finished up 20th overall.
"We have a solid front five right now for the first time in a couple of years," Coach Pender said. "I think we'll be okay this season, but I'm really excited to see where things go next year. We're bulding something special here."
Mark Tetonis paced the Red & Black attack. A hard-working junior, Tetonis sprinted home in a time of 19:24, good for 71st place. Greg Senft, Evan Kennedy, Logan Miller, Gavin Canfield and Thomas Wolfe rounded out the Hornet attack.
Senft (99th) carded a time of 20:11. Kennedy (117) came across in 20:48, while Miller (121) stopped the clock at 21:00. Canfield (127) posted a 21:15 and Wolfe (148) ended up at 22:12.