Before heading west, Pine-Richland runner caps decorated high school cross country career

Sunday, November 14, 2021 | 11:01 AM

On Nov. 10, Meredith Price signed a letter of intent for track and cross country at Utah State, so this coming fall she’ll be running in the Rocky Mountains.

The last few years she’s proven she’s had no problem navigating the hills of Pennsylvania.

Price placed 17th in the PIAA Class 3A cross country championships and led Pine-Richland to a seventh-place finish in the team standings Nov. 6 in Hershey.

She also had an eighth-place finish at WPIALs the week prior.

Those two results capped a career in which she earned three WPIAL medals and two state medals.

“When I was a freshman, I would look at state medals and think, ‘Wow, it would be such a dream to have one of them,’ so it motivated me to be one of the top runners in the state,” Price said. “Every workout I tried to get better. Now, a few years later, it’s pretty crazy that I’ve accomplished all of these goals. It’s exciting to see all of the hard work pay off.”

The Rams were runners-up at the WPIAL championship behind North Allegheny. Natalie McLean joined Price in the top 10 at WPIALs, placing ninth.

At states, McLean finished 84th, Elizabeth Hunkele was 90th, Angelina Hunkele finished 130th, Audrey DeKunder was 151st, Breanna Franchak placed 159th, and Marie Claire Daniello ended up 166th.

Nick Labuda was the lone Pine-Richland boys runner to qualify for states, and he placed 166th.

At the beginning of the season, the girls team had hopes of competing for the state title, but injuries derailed them for the majority of the year.

Price was one of the only girls runners to not miss any time due to injury. Most of the team returned to action prior to WPIALs and earned their way to states.

“I couldn’t have asked to finish my season in another way. My teammates and I got even closer throughout the season and worked really hard,” Price said. “We did have some bumps throughout the season with some injuries to some teammates, but at the end, we came through it strong.

“We qualified for states as a team, which was one of our goals. Throughout the season girls placed well in individual meets and we won the Legends Meet (in Ohio). It was a pretty successful season for the team, which was what I wanted going into my senior season.”

Price has the indoor and outdoor track seasons to look forward to with the Rams. After that, she’s headed west. Her love for the west started when she visited older siblings who went to college in that part of the country.

Now she’s excited to make her own move and enjoy the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop while she runs.

“Every time I visited them, I just loved it,” Price said. “I’m an outdoors person. This summer, I visited the campus at Utah State and I fell in love with it. The mountains are beautiful there, which is a big thing for me. As I got to the know the team and the coaches, it felt like somewhere I was supposed to be and where I belonged. After that visit I really couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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