DIMOCK – Pittston Area bumped up from Class AA to AAA in girls cross country last season and Wallenpaupack’s Alyssa LaFave stood in the way of a potential District 2-4 Subregional title for Tara Johnson.
The now four-time state qualifier and district medalist turned the tables on LaFave Oct. 31 at Elk Lake.
The same two runners occupied the top two spots, but Johnson reversed the order to win by 27 seconds when she completed the 3.1-mile course in 19:21.
A year ago, LaFave beat Johnson by 18 seconds.
“I knew she went out fast, so I just wanted to stay with her,” Johnson said.
Johnson accomplished that over the first half of the race and, by the two-mile mark, was beginning to open a significant lead.
The title continued an outstanding senior season for Johnson.
“I really did all my summer mileage,” Johnson said. “I worked really hard in the summer and then I just made sure I was doing everything I was capable of in my workouts.”
Johnson led Pittston Area into team title contention, but Hazleton Area pulled out a 54-60 victory.
Patriots freshman Bailey Loyack came within one place and six seconds of earning a state berth when she placed seventh in the 52-runner field in 21:20.
Arianna Boccardi also cracked the top 10, placing ninth in 21:46.
Jessica Tighe and Genevieve English completed the five-runner team score by coming in a second apart in 21st and 22nd.
Mary Silinskie was another second behind them to take 23rd.
Only five runners count in a team total, but seven can used to push back the finish by other teams.
Pittston Area had the deepest seven-runner team with Delaney Power also making the top half of the field in 26th.
That depth allowed the Patriots to finish ahead of six other teams on the day with a lineup that featured three freshmen and a sophomore, the second-youngest combination of the eight teams in Class AAA. Johnson was the only senior.
Pittston Area did not enter a full boys team.
It entered just three runners, led by Michael Felter in 50th place.
Wyoming Area, which competed in District 2 Class AA, had only a full boys team and entered its girls as individuals.
The Warriors finished 15th out of 16 teams.
Ryan Marvin made the top half of the 109-runner field in 54th place.
Addison Orzel made the top half of the Class AA girls field, placing 41st out of 94 to lead Wyoming Area.