Gonoude repeats as CL champ
In last season's league meet, Salisbury's Kyle Gonoude crossed the finished line 13 seconds before any other runner to earn the top spot in the Colonial league.
Not much changed at the top of this year's finishers, but the way Gonoude captured his second straight league title was even more impressive than 2013. He finished with a time of 16:51.44, nearly 29 seconds in front of second-place finisher Joe Espinal of Wilson on Wednesday at DeSales University.
It was just another day at the office for Gonoude, who earned another first-place finish after winning five of six regular season meets.
"There are a couple really good runners that have repeated and won twice," Kyle Gonoude said. "My heel stopped hurting today by some miracle. Everything has been great."
Gonoude and Espinal were basically neck-and-neck for the first two miles of the race, a sight that many expected coming into competition. Both have been among the league leaders all season long, and those two were among the favorites to culminate the regular season with a gold medal.
But when the two entered the final stretch of the course in the cornfields, Gonoude separated himself from his competitor. He never looked back.
"I felt great," Kyle Gonoude said. "I had Joe with me for the first two miles. He was running well with me. Unfortunately, he was hurting too much on the cornfield hill after the two-mile mark. That's' where I started pushing a little harder."
Gonoude took a slight step back through about the first mile, pacing himself behind a trio of runners early. When the course's first hill was in sight, he pushed a little harder to take over the lead.
"I was sitting behind [Northwestern's] Braden Heller, [Bangor's Brandon] Tocket and Espinal until the first mile mark," Kyle Gonoude said. "Then I found my hills and started running fast.
"This is probably my favorite course out of all of the ones that we run, except for the one at states."
Tocket came in third behind Gonoude and Espinal to round out the top three. Saucon Valley finished first as a team with five runners in the top 26.
Joseph Fainor (24), Greg Fry (42), Sam DeFrank (54) and Pete DuBois (78) were the other finishers counted toward the Falcons' eighth-place finish as a team.
A year removed from an eighth-place finish at leagues, Kelly Gonoude paced the Salisbury girl finishers by placing seventh with a time of 20:38.75 this year. Her time was over seven seconds better than last year's mark.
"I was really trying to shoot for top 10, and obviously do better than last year," Kelly Gonoude said. "I felt that the league has gotten better since last year, so it was tough to see what place I was going to get."
After a number of the top runners separated themselves after the first mile of the course, Gonoude stuck with the second pack of competitors for the remainder of the race.
"I worked with two others girls [Carly Pierce of Northwestern and Allyson Yanega of Southern Lehigh] for the last half of the race," Kelly Gonoude said. "That's what really kept me going.
"I tried to stick with the people I usually did in the regular season meets. That resulted with a pretty good place. I'm happy with that."
Salisbury's Brooke Rogers (49), Sydney Utesch (51), Holly Szita (54) and Ruby Weiner (57) finished in the top 60.
Southern Lehigh's Meseret Hart came in first place. Palisades' Sophie Doman placed second. Pen Argyl's Brianna Biondo rounded out the top three. The Northwestern girls finished first as a team with eight runners in the top 17.
The District 11 Cross Country Championships are on Wednesday at Bethlehem Municipal Park.
The Class AA boys race begins at 4:10 p.m., with the Class AA girls starting at 4:40 p.m.