- Summer Hill stood ankle-deep in the mud of a rain-saturated Elk Lake cross country course.
One of the best runners in the history of Honesdale's storied program, Hill had just finished sixth at the District Two Championships. This meant two things: a fourth straight D-2 medal and a fourth straight trip to states.
For Summer, there would be very little time for celebration. After all, there was still unfinished business awaiting her in Hershey.
"This is my last year and my last chance and I want to bring home a medal," she said. "I'm going to train as hard as I can and I'm going to leave it all out on that course."
As it turns out, Hill was as good as her word. Summer traveled to Hershey this past weekend and added a final line to her dazzling Lady Hornet resume ... that of PIAA medalist.
She finished sixth overall in the Class AA race, stopping the clock at 19:30.
"Summer absolutely ran the race of her life," Coach Lindsey Pender said. "She went out fast, she was aggressive and she attacked every hill. She was still picking people off with less than a mile to go."
When Hill reached the finish line, she was greeted by Pender and her assistant coaches Wayne Baldwin and Kevin Kloss .... none of whom could control their emotions after seeing Summer close out her record-shattering career.
"It was a pretty intense couple of minutes," Coach Pender said. "At first we were all laughing and smiling and jumping around. Then, like a minute later, we were all crying. It was just an awesome experience."
Page 2 of 3 - Hill has been nothing short of dominant at the local and district levels these past four years.
However, an elite performance had always eluded her on the Commonwealth's biggest scholastic stage.
She placed 78th as a freshman and 47th as a sophomore. Hill improved to 30th last fall, but still out of medal contention. That all changed on Saturday.
"Summer is on a mission this year," veteran North Pocono coach Marc Gaughan said while watching her run at districts. "Barring an injury, I really don't think anything is going to get in her way."
Coach Pender concurred.
"Summer was incredibly focused this time," she said. "She set some pretty lofty goals for herself right at the start of the season and then went out and achieved them."
More than 230 of PA's elite high school runners competed on the rugged Parkview Course in the Class AA race. Hill jetted out to a fast start, then settled in with two other area runners also expected to contend for state medals.
Regan Rome is the 3-time reigning District Two champion. A junior from Dallas Area, Rome participates each summer in the Perkins Memorial Race, held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.
On Saturday, Rome turned in yet another stellar effort, crossing the finish line in 19:14. That time was good enough for third in the overall AA standings.
Kaitlyn Lewis also ran stride-for-stride with Hill through the 2-mile marker. The North Pocono sophomore faded over the final mile, though, and wound up 15th (19:50).
Hill couldn't keep pace with Rome, but broke away from Lewis to carve out her place among the Top 10.
Page 3 of 3 - Summer was 14th at the mile marker (5:45) and moved up to 10th through two miles. She made her final push over the final 1.1 miles, finishing up in a time of 19:30.
Adair Gennocro, a senior from St. Mary's Area in District Nine captured the individual crown in 19:00 even.
Elizabeth Chikotas of Saucon Valley (19:08), Rome (19:14), Holy Redeemer's Marissa Durako (19:21) and Rachel Sowinski (19:24) rounded out the front five.
"I'm so proud of her," Coach Pender said. "Summer is leaving behind an amazing legacy and finally getting that state medal just tops it all off."