Lady Panther wins AA cross country title

SIDMAN – Many runners who complete the 3.1-mile trek in the District 6 cross country championships have a look of exhaustion, sickness or pain on their face.

When Penn Cambria’s Arlee Simendinger went over the finish line in 19:27.7 at Forest Hills Middle School Saturday, she was smiling ear to ear.

No longer blocked from a district title by Central Cambria graduate Alyssa Brandis, Simendinger cruised to victory in her junior year, topping the Lady Devils’ Samantha Koss by more than 10 seconds to win the Class A girls championship.

“I’m just so ecstatic and happy,” Simendinger said. “I feel so honored to finally win. It shows all your hard work really does pay off.”

Koss’ runner-up finish helped lead Central Cambria to its ninth-consecutive girls District 6 team championship, 35-83, over Penn Cambria. Emma Wess took third, and Sydney Gilkey was sixth. All three are freshmen.

“There’s not one senior on our squad,” Central Cambria coach Randy Wilson said. “Every year we come here as the favorite, and it’s hard when there’s a big target on your back. They ran really well.”

For the third consecutive year, thanks in large part to Simendinger’s victory, Penn Cambria will advance to the PIAA championships as the district runner-up.

“That young lady has done what she has needed to do to put herself in this position,” Penn Cambria coach Todd Niebauer said. “She works her butt off. She’s a straight-A student, and she just does everything. She earned this.”

Simendinger was running on the Forest Hills Middle School course for the third time this season. Saturday marked the first time the event has not been held in Reedsville for years.

“Reedsville really had an intimidation factor for me, but here that isn’t the case,” Simendinger said. “It’s less intimidating here, because I have ran it so much, and it definitely feels like a second home course to me.”

In addition to the entire Central Cambria and Penn Cambria girls teams, three other local girls made it to states in Class A.

Bellwood-Antis’ Ellen Crook, running cross country for the first time as a senior, finished fifth in 20:07.2, Northern Cambria’s Allyson Kopera took eighth and Cambria Heights’ Harley Nelen secured the final spot in the field by taking 19th.

“I don’t know what hit me, but the leaders started to get further away, and I started to lag,” Crook said. “It’s awesome to still go to states though and get another chance to try and get a better placement and get my time down.”

Hannah Dorian of Westmont Hilltop captured the Class AA girls title with a time of 19:04.1, and Somerset won the team title, 42-54 over Westmont Hilltop.

Tyrone’s Jordon Wiser finished sixth in 20:42.4 to qualify for states for the second straight year.

“I wish my time would have been better,” said Wiser, who finished second a year ago. “It does feel amazing to be going back to states, though.”

State College dominated the Class AAA girls field, topping Altoona, 17-69, and capturing six of the top seven positions.

Altoona and Hollidaysburg both managed to qualify a pair of runners for states.

Lady Tigers freshman Bridget Perry was the highest local finisher, taking eighth in 20:37.5.

“I love running, and this is a dream to be going to states in my first year,” Perry said. “This was the first time I’ve run this course, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.”

Perry’s teammate Makenzie Wilkinson will join her after a 10th place finish, and Altoona’s Morgan Pensyl (ninth) and Alexandra Conrad (11th) also moved on.


TEAM RESULTS (TOP TWO TEAMS ADVANCE): 1, Central Cambria (CC), 35; 2, Penn Cambria (PC), 83; 3, Penns Valley (PV), 93; 4, Marion Center (MC), 95; 5, Cambria Heights (CH), 144; 6, United (U), 188; 7, Bishop McCort (BM), 211; 8, Northern Cambria (NC), 230; 9, Bellwood-Antis (BA), 255; 10, Richland (R), 277; 11, Bald Eagle Area (BEA), 307; 12, West Branch (WB), 317; 13, Penns Manor (PM), 340; 14, Bishop Guilfoyle (BG), 343.

INDIVIDUALS (TOP 10 MINUS ADVANCING TEAMS ADVANCE): 1, Simendinger, PC, 19:27.7; 2, Koss, CC, 19:38.8; 3, Wess, CC, 19:58.4; 4, Paynter, Homer-Center, 20:04.2; 5, Crook, BA, 20:07.2; 6, Gilkey CC, 20:21.8; 7, Limbaugh, PV, 20:25.5; 8, Kopera, NC, 20:25.6; 9, Fulton, MC, 20:44.4; 10, Clauto, PC, 20:54.9; 11, Whitfield, MC, 21:04.3; 12, Hayward, CC, 21:05.0; 13, Kocsis, R, 21:10.9; 14, Ludwig, U, 21:25.3; 15, Bracken, CC, 21:29.7; 16, McKeel, CC, 21:32.3; 17, Swope, CC, 21:38.4; 18, Wenrick, PV, 21:43.0; 19, Nelen, CH, 21:44.7.

OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 30: 21, S. Pompa, PC, 21:50.0; 26, Niebauer, CH, 22:02.1; 28, D. Pompa, PC, 22:06.6; 30, Lee, PC, 22:16.6.


TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES): 1, Somerset (S), 42; 2, Westmont Hilltop (WH), 54; 3, Ligonier Valley (LV), 91; 4, Forest Hills (FH), 100; 5, Bellefonte (BF), 120; 6, Tyrone (T), 152; 7, Bedford, (B), 187; 8, St. Joseph’s (SJ), 212; 9, Philipsburg-Osceola (PO), 225; 10, Central (C), 245.

INDIVIDUALS (TOP FIVE MINUS ADVANCING TEAM MEMBERS ADVANCE): 1, Dorian, WH, 19:04.1; 2, Woy, S, 20:14.6; 3, Rohrer, S, 20:21.7; 4, Glennon, WH, 20:25.6; 5, Herwig, S, 20:34.3; 6, Wiser, T, 20:42.4; 7, Varner, FH, 21:06.6; 8, Hoaglund, BF, 21:10.5.

OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 30: 10, Fierro, B, 21:30.6; 22, Whitehead, PO, 23:17.3; 24, Cherry, C, 23:20.8.


TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES): 1, State College (SC), 17; 2, Altoona (A), 69; 3, Mifflin County (MC), 85; 4, Hollidaysburg (H), 90; 5, Central Mountain (CM), 101.

INDIVIDUALS (TOP FIVE MINUS ADVANCING TEAM MEMBERS ADVANCE): 1, Cousins, SC, 19:19.4; 2, Burka, SC, 19:31.8; 3, Catalano, SC, 19:45.9; 4, Moyer, CM, 19:58.8; 5, Yoder, SC, 20:03.1; 6, Curtin, SC, 20:16.2; 7, Fedkina, SC, 20:32.7; 8, Perry, H, 20:37.5; 9, Pensyl, A, 20:41.1; 10, Wilkinson, H, 20:52.1; 11, Conrad, A, 20:54.1.

OTHER AREA FINISHERS IN TOP 20: 15, DeBernardis, A, 21:30.4; 16, Geist, A, 21:35.7; 18, Fama, A, 21:49.3; 19, Sohmer, A, 22:23.9.