Home Local Sports Ursuline, Salesianum cross country take first place at Joe O’Neill Invitational

Ursuline, Salesianum cross country take first place at Joe O’Neill Invitational

The boys' race at the Joe O'Neill Invitational gets under way Oct. 18 at Bellevue State Park. The state championship meet was held Nov. 9 at Killens Pond State Park in Felton. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

WILMINGTON — Ursuline sophomore Anna Pryor came down the homestretch with the rest of the field in the rearview mirror to capture the 2019 Joe O’Neill Invitational cross country race on Oct. 18 at Bellevue State Park. Pryor, with a winning time of 18:42.20, led three Raiders in the top 10 as Ursuline also took the team title.

“The Joe,” as the annual event is known, is one of the final regular-season meets before conference, county and state events occur. It is the largest cross country race, with teams from all over the state participating regardless of whether they are Division I or Division II.

Anna Pryor of Ursuline crosses the finish line to win the girls’ race. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Pryor said this race is a good way to prepare for the Catholic meet, which is Oct. 24 at Bellevue, but she was happy to win.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, but I was happy that I had people to push me, and my teammates. I couldn’t do it without them,” she said.

The other Raiders who scored were Alaina McGonigle, sixth place; Clare Kornacki, 10th; Emily Rzucidlo, 23rd; and Isabella Lindia, 26th.

Tiffany Herrera of Saint Mark’s placed second, 10.5 seconds behind Pryor. Herrera said she feels good about the Spartans’ chances in the Division II state meet, which is scheduled for Nov. 9 at Killens Pond State Park in Felton.

“We keep improving a lot each and every weekend, and our team has such a close bond, so if we just give it our all, I think we have a good chance of winning,” she said.

Natalie Donaldson placed seventh overall. Also scoring for the Spartans were Stephanie Herrera, 22nd; Jordan Ormsby, 29th; and Kaleigh Brady, 43rd.

Padua finished third to wrap up a Catholic school sweep of the top three spots. Mary Dorsey was the top Panda in 15th place. The other four Pandas finished within 12 spots of each other and all were in the top 30.

Archmere’s girls placed 10th, and the top Auk was Ryan Vitola, who came in 20th. St. Elizabeth had two runners participate but did not receive a team score. A total of 210 runners from 37 teams finished the race.

Aidan Higley of Salesianum came in second for the boys. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

In the boys’ race, Aidan Higley of Salesianum came in second overall behind Andrew Avila of the Charter School of Wilmington. The Sals’ Ryan Banko captured fourth place, and Salesianum went home with the boys’ team title.

Higley’s time of 15:52.70 was 24.4 seconds behind Avila.

The other Sals to score included Michael Migliore, 12th; Conor Ryan, 17th; and Matthew Filliben, 32nd. The team’s score of 67 was easily low enough to defeat runner-up Charter by a comfortable margin.

Archmere placed ninth, just behind Wilmington Friends. Owen Phillips was the Auks’ top finisher in 20th place. Connor Hesler came in 15th to lead Saint Mark’s, which placed 13th. St. Elizabeth finished in 30th place, with Daniel Steenkamer leading them with an 80th-place finish.

A total of 39 teams and 243 runners took part in the boys’ event.