Maybe it was the heat, and maybe it was the hills, but the Lehigh Valley Conference Girls Cross Country Championship Meet was a slow race by most standards last week at the Bethlehem Municipal Field.
"Usually, they go out really hard. It was a strange start. The top ten were together for a good part of the race," said Freedom junior, Shaina Palmer, who placed seventh in 20:33.
Also in the top ten was Freedom freshman, Olivia Salerno, who placed eighth in 20:41.
Freedom's number one singles player, Flannery Johnston, shared third place honors with East Stroudsburg South's Kaitlyn Poje after the District XI Singles Tennis Tournament last week at West End Racquet Club in Allentown.
Unlike in years past, a consolation match was not played for third place.
"I'm happy I made it as far as last year," Johnston said.
Johnston had lost to eventual winner, Brittany Poje of East Stroudsburg South, in the semifinal 0-6, 3-6, but the Patriot junior was realistic about the outcome.
In the final rivalry game of boys soccer season, it was pay back time as Freedom defeated Liberty 2-1 last Thursday, in return for a loss earlier this year to the Hurricanes.
Freedom midfielder, Nigel Long, scored the winning goal on an assist by Jarrett Clymer in the second overtime for the Patriots.
Liberty had a 1-0 lead at the half, after Stelios Koutsoumbis scored on a penalty kick in the first period. Freedom's Mezen Abdulla tied the game on an assist by Quinn Ackerman in the second half.
Revenge was sweet for Freedom's number three doubles tennis players, Corrine Marchese and Kaitlyn Swint, who captured third place and the bronze medal in the Lehigh Valley Conference Tennis Championships on Sept. 30 at Parkland High School.
After defeating Allen's Mary Gilbert and Karina Mendez 8-0, the Patriots then defeated Whitehall's Shadimon Navarro and Amanda Endy 8-1.
A lineup change during overtime resulted in a winning goal for Bethlehem Catholic last week, as Marisa Iannelli scored for the Hawks with six minutes remaining in their game against the Liberty Hurricanes.
Iannelli, a senior defender, said, "I was pushed up to midfield for overtime to help with the attack. Once I realized no one was marking me on the throw-in, I called for the ball. I had a lot of room to shoot. It looked like slow motion, and it looked like [Amelia Sapirman, the Liberty goalkeeper] thought it was going out of bounds."
As predicted, Freedom and Liberty's girls cross country teams battled it out for an end-of-season victory over their neighboring rival, resulting in a 26-29 win for the Patriots last week.
The Patriots also defeated Allen (15-50) and Dieruff (19-45), and the Hurricanes were victorious over Allen (15-50) and Dieruff (20-43).
Winning the race at Illick's Mill in 19:55 was Freedom junior, Shaina Palmer.
Cross country runners, Roberto Marrero and Will Alpaugh, have been running together for weeks, pacing each other, sharing tips when appropriate, and consistently placing well in dual meets.
Both, however, are neighboring rivals. Marrero is a Liberty senior, and Alpaugh is a Freedom sophomore.
As the cross country season progressed, Marrero and Alpaugh found themselves relatively even in dual meets, using that to push each other and themselves.
Freedom tennis player, Kayleigh DiNoto, did her homework and saw it pay off with a silver medal at number two singles in the Lehigh Valley Conference Tennis Tournament on Monday at Parkland High School.
"It's good. It's nice, and it's really exciting," DiNoto said.
DiNoto's first match ended in an 8-4 victory over Bethlehem Catholic's Emily Hozza.
"I was consistent, and that was good," DiNoto said.
Expecting a tough match from her second opponent, Catherine Garrity of Emmaus, DiNoto learned Garrity's style of play.
All the pieces came together for Liberty tennis player, Samantha Peterson, when the Hurricane sophomore won the silver medal at number one singles in the Lehigh Valley Conference Tennis Tournament on Monday at Parkland High School.
"I just kind of went for it no matter what. My ground strokes, in general, and my forehand were good today," Peterson said.
Peterson began the day with an 8-3 victory over Northampton's Leah Hodge.
"I played pretty consistent [against Hodge]," she said.
In the final rivalry match of the girls tennis season, Freedom defeated Liberty 7-0 last week at Freedom.
Flannery Johnston defeated Samantha Peterson 6-1, 6-0 at number one singles, Kayleigh DiNoto defeated Madelyn Conrad 6-1, 6-2 at number two singles, and Federica Maranzana defeated Emily Moss 6-0, 6-0 at number three singles.
Maranzana said, "Last year we lost against Liberty, so [winning] is always nice. We're definitely doing better than last year. I feel like our three singles [players] are strong, and our [team] record is much better."