5 Pine-Richland runners test themselves at indoor nationals

Saturday, March 6, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Five distance runners from Pine-Richland traveled to Virginia last month to test themselves against some of the best high school competition in the country and came home with solid results.

Meredith Price, Audrey DeKunder, Elizabeth Hunkele, Angelina Hunkele and Natalie McLean competed at the 2021 Adidas Indoor Nationals on Feb. 26-28 in Virginia Beach. All five qualified for nationals for the first time and are underclassmen.

Price finished ninth in the 5K in the championship division. Angelina Hunkele, a freshman, placed 10th in the 2-mile run in the open division, and as a group, they placed sixth in the 3,200 relay.

“It was a pretty unforgettable experience,” Price said. “I’ve never really competed against that many competitive girls before. It was challenging in some ways but overall more enjoyable. It was also fun to spend time with my teammates. We got to go to the beach for a morning, and we did well in the relay together.”

A sixth runner, Danielle Bryant, qualified for the 60-meter hurdles in the championship division but did not compete because of a minor injury. Pine-Richland track coach Mark Hunkele said Bryant, a Duke recruit and the 2019 WPIAL 300-meter hurdles champion, will be ready to go when outdoor track season begins in late March.

Price also competed in the 2-mile championship event. She finished the 5k at 18 minutes, 1 second, which met her goal.

“It was fun to see what it was like to compete at that level,” Price said. “I wasn’t too worried about what place I got. I was more focused on getting a good time. I didn’t quite do that in (the 2-mile) race, but I was happy with my time in the 5K. All of my teammates had the same goal of focusing on getting good times.”

Angelina Hunkele’s time of 11:29 in the 2-mile open race was the third best by any freshman. McLean was 20th in the 2-mile championship race at 11:05.18, which Coach Hunkele said was a strong performance for a sophomore in a deep field of upperclassmen.

Price wasn’t surprised to see her teammates shine.

“They are both really talented young runners,” Price said. “Natalie came back from an injury during cross country season, and that was a really strong comeback to run those fast of times, especially at nationals.

“Angelina is a really good competitor. I couldn’t run that fast when I was a freshman. To come into indoor track and run times that fast is really impressive.”

All five girls compete together during cross country as well as indoor and outdoor and have formed a strong bond. They’re hopeful that they can take the performance at nationals into the WPIAL outdoor season after last season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve got so close to my teammates,” Price said. “Being around them, training with them and supporting each other is so much fun. We all enjoy seeing ourselves improve. We all like getting faster times and seeing that progress is really enjoyable.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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