By DENNY DYROFF
For 21st Century MediaCOATESVILLE — Oxford Area High School has been collecting hardware at invitational meets this year on a regular basis. Saturday morning, the Hornets added to their collection of trophies when they won the team title at the 39th Annual Steel City Girls Cross Country Invitational at Coatesville.
The Oxford girls placed all five scorers in the top nine to finish with 29 points. Host Coatesville captured the runner-up trophy with 35 points. Cheltenham was third with 90 and Bishop Shanahan placed fourth with 109.
Coatesville placed three girls in the top six -- including race-winner Erin Boulger. The speedy sophomore finished with a time of 21:13.
Ironically, Boulger would not have even competed in the race if Coatesville's girls varsity soccer team had a game scheduled. Boulger is a starter for the team, so cross country has to take a supplementary role.
"I'm on the soccer team so I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to run today,' said Boulger. "My soccer coach allows me to run cross country as long as it doesn't interfere with games or practices. This was only my second cross country meet this season.
"The first was the Big Valley Invitational. This is a hard course, so I just wanted to go out and have fun and finish. My mile time -- 6:06 - was pretty good for this course. I led the whole way, but it was still pretty tight at the mile.
"The second mile was slower because there are more hills. But, my breathing was good. The humidity made it tough. In the third mile, I opened up my stride because it's downhill and flat.'
Oxford's Elaine Estes finished second at 21:40 and her teammate Olivia Quinci was third with a time of 22:02.
"My race was O.K.,' said Estes, a junior. "This was the first time I ran in this meet and my teammates warned me about the steep hill. I pushed superfast up the hill but it was killing. Downhill running is my favorite and this is a good course for that. Olivia and I ran neck-and-neck for a long time and then I went ahead at the end.'
Quinci, a sophomore, said, "I went out pretty hard. The Coatesville girl (Boulger) was a little ahead at the mile and Elaine was right behind me. The first mile felt really fast and then the second mile was slow because of the hill. It felt good to be coming down the hill. I had a strong finish.'
The Hornets' other finishers were Zibby Harvey, seventh at 22:56; Alyssa Sniechoski, eighth at 23:03; Emma Wilkinson, ninth with a time of 23:12; Sarah Hershey, 11th at 23:22; and Jocelyn Golly, who crossed in 13th place with a time of 23:38.
"We placed first at the Fair Hill Invitational in Maryland,' said Oxford coach Duffy Sample. "Then, we finished second at Lebanon Valley's Dutchman Invitational. We're doing really well as a unit. This is a strong group to work with.'
Coatesville's list of runners in the race also featured Corinne Gallagher, who was fourth at 22:17; Nastalie Thomas, sixth at 22:37; Johanna Lamb, 10th with a time of 23:18; Makayla Eberly, 14th at 24:08; Danielle McFadien, 16th with a clocking of 24:19; and Taylor Riisen, who placed 22nd at 25:23.
Bishop Shanahan's top finisher was Emily Bracken, who came across in 12th place with a time of 23:25.