REEDSVILLE - Though Central Cambria has continued to dominate the girls team competition in the post-Seymour era, the Lady Red Devils haven't crowned an individual champion in recent years.
Alyssa Brandis, a top-tier runner in the area since she was a freshman, finally captured her first District 6 Class A title with a time of 18:57 as a senior Saturday at the cross country championships.
Photo for the Mirror by Buffie Boyer
Central Cambria’s Alyssa Brandis wins her first District 6 title with a time of 18:57 on Saturday.
"It feels really good, and I'm really proud," Brandis said. "Everyone said I was going to do it, but I still had to go out and run my race, and I did."
Brandis' victory was the most lopsided of the day in either boys or girls competition. Marion Center's Hannah Fulton finished second in 20:02.
"Alyssa has been in the shadows of this person or that person," Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said. "It's huge for her to get this. She has worked really hard and really earned this."
Brandis' win along with the top-10 efforts of Hannah Swope, Jackie Bracken and Jordan Hayward helped Central Cambria win its eighth consecutive district title but its first in the new Class A classification.
"Every year the pressure grows, and these guys ran with pressure on them all year," Wilson said. "Alyssa was really keyed up for the race, and it feels great. We only have one option or it's a terrible day. We have to win or it's terrible, and that's a lot of pressure."
Joining Central Cambria at the PIAA Championships in Hershey next Saturday for the second consecutive year will be runner-up Penn Cambria, which lost 33-48 to its Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference rival.
"It feels good to be in company with Central Cambria, a well-coached, great program," Penn Cambria coach Todd Niebauer said. "We have unbelievable support from families and great numbers coming up through our system. We're starting to get there."
Sophomore Arlee Simendinger's fourth-place finish in 20:27 led the Lady Panthers.
"I'm thrilled," Simendinger said. "I wanted to do my best, like always, and that's what happened. The whole first mile, I was locked in [with a group], but after that I took off and no one went with me."
Allyson Kopera, of Northern Cambria, and Khristina Slobodnik, of Bishop Guilfoyle, also advanced to the state meet in Class A.
"All the hard work I put in all year running paid off," Slobodnik said. "My first goal was to make it to states, and I did it. I felt great. My legs felt awesome, and the weather was great. I'm going to feel so proud to go to school and tell everyone."
A trio of area girls qualified for the state competition in Class AA highlighted by Tyrone's Jordan Wiser, who took second as a freshman in 20:06 behind Haylee Rohrer of Somerset.
"I stayed a little bit behind at the start, and I just started passing the girls one by one," Wiser said. "I ended up third and then on the final hill, it helped, because our home course in Tyrone is hills, so that helped me pass the second-place girl.
"I'm very happy, especially because I'm only a freshman."
Bedford's Emilee Fierro and Carrie Baker, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, also made the cut.
"I'm happy to go to states for the third time," Baker said. "It was one of my goals in fall sports. It's a lot bigger and more competitive to what we're used to in District 5, but it makes it more rewarding to move on."
In the team competition, Somerset topped Westmont Hilltop, 56-61. Bedford finished third with 74.
In Class AAA, State College dominated the competition, topping Altoona, 15-66, and picking up the first five positions in the race.
Hayley Weaver (sixth) and Morgan Pensyl (10th) moved on to the state meet for Altoona, and Hollidaysburg's Emily Ansley (eighth) and Lauren Pheasant (ninth) will also be making return trips to Hershey.
TEAM RESULTS (TOP TWO TEAMS ADVANCE): 1, Central Cambria (CC), 33; 2, Penn Cambria (PC), 48; 3, Marion Center (MC), 77; 4, Bishop McCort (BM), 101; 5, Cambria Heights (CH), 153; 6, Penns Valley (PV), 164; 7, United (U), 213, 8, Penns Manor (PM), 224; 9, Juniata Valley (JV), 228; 10, West Branch (WB), 241; 11, Bald Eagle Area (BEA), 310.
INDIVIDUALS (TOP 10 MINUS ADVANCING TEAMS ADVANCE): 1, Brandis, CC, 18:57; 2, Fulton, MC, 20:02; 3, Paynter, Homer-Center, 20:04; 4, Limbaugh, PV, 20:11; 5, Simendinger, PC, 20:27; 6, Hilliard, Purchase Line, 20:45; 7, Swope, CC, 20:52; 8, Kopera, Northern Cambria, 20:59; 9, Bracken, CC, 21:01; 10, Slobodnik, Bishop Guilfoyle, 21:07; 11, McGarry, PC, 21:08; 12, Hayward, CC, 21:13; 13, Olson, MC, 21:17; 14, Roberts, PC, 21:32; 15, Clauto, PC, 21:34; 16, Karcher, BM, 21:38; 17, Lipnic, CC, 21:39; 18, Federinko, PV, 21:41; 19, Winfield, BM, 21:55.
OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 25: 20, Pompa, PC, 22:00; 22, Link, CH, 22:12; 25, Schaefer, CH, 22:20.
TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES): 1, Somerset (S), 56; 2, Westmont Hilltop (WH), 61; 3, Bedford (B), 74; 4, Forest Hills (FH), 92; 5, Ligonier Valley (LV), 130; 6, Tyrone (T), 157; 7, Bellefonte (B), 163; 8, Central (C), 191.
INDIVIDUALS (TOP FIVE MINUS ADVANCING TEAM MEMBERS ADVANCE): 1, Rohrer, S, 19:54; 2, Wiser, T, 20:06; 3, Erb, FH, 20:17; 4, Fierro, B, 20:22; 5, Baker, B, 20:33; 6, Dorian, WH, 20:36.
OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 25: 11, Diehl, B, 21:24; 24, Clark, C, 22:30; 25, Grimes, B, 22:33.
TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES): 1, State College (SC), 15; 2, Altoona (A), 66; 3, Hollidaysburg (H), 86; 4, Mifflin County (MC), 104; 5, Central Mountain (CM), 107.
INDIVIDUALS (TOP FIVE MINUS ADVANCING TEAM MEMBERS ADVANCE): 1, Cousins, SC, 19:40; 2, Grubb, SC, 19:53; 3, Almarzooqi, SC, 19:55; 4, Catalano, SC, 19:58; 5, Fedkina, SC, 20:12; 6, Weaver, A, 10:16; 7, Yoder, SC, 20:17; 8, Ansley, H, 20:36; 9, Pheasant, H, 20:39; 10, Pensyl, A, 20:39; 11, Sausman, SC, 20:40; 12, Moyer, CM, 21:04.
OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 25: 13, Geist, A, 21:37; 18, Port, A, 22:00; 19, Sohmer, A, 22:05; 20, Delozier, A, 22:06; 22, Wilkinson, H, 22:13; 23, McClain, H, 22:33; 24, Lance, H, 22:43; 25, Debernardis, A, 22:50.