The Kennett High School cross country team gave archrival Unionville a run for its money last week, especially in the boys meet. But in the end, it wasn't quite enough.Unionville swept the Ches-Mont League opener with the Blue Demons last Wednesday on a humid afternoon at New Garden Township Park.

The Unionville boys fended off a tough challenge, edging Kennett by a score of 27-30. Unionville's girls, meanwhile, who have been a top-10 team in the state each of the last five years, defeated Kennett by a score of 22-33.

"It just goes to show how much our program is improving," said Kennett head coach John Ferraro, who was happy with the way the Blue Demons competed.

Octorara also participated in the Ches-Mont League tri-meet last week. Unionville rolled past them 15-50 (boys) and 15-50 (girls). Kennett did the same, easily dispatching of the Braves by scores of 16-42 (boys) and 15-50 (girls).

Unionville's boys and girls are now both 2-0 overall, while Kennett's boys and girls each improved to 3-1 overall on the young season.

The boys meet was won by Unionville's Adam Cantini in a time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds. Cantini just beat out Kennett's Steve Hyland, who finished in second place just a tick back. Kennett's Glen Williams (18:21) took third, and Unionville's Matt Fisher (18:45) was fourth. Pat Nash of Kennett crossed in fifth place (18:54), but Unionville took the next two spots behind Clay Burkhart (18:55) and Nick Guarino (19:22).

"Kennett has a couple of very good runners, and they've made some big improvements as a program, which is a credit to them," said Unionville head coach Mark Lacianca. "We really had to work from the mile on."

Said Ferraro, "We just lack a little bit of depth as we get into our fifth, sixth and seventh runners. Our top-four ran right with Unionville, and that's a real positive sign. Hopefully we'll keep improving."

In the girls meet, Octorara's Maria Stickley took first overall with a time of 22 minutes, 43 seconds. Kathleen Insetta of Unionville was second (23:02) and Kennett's Cathy Walsh finished right behind her in third place (23:03). Unionville's Rachel Bremer (23:45) and Lauren Mills (25:01) were fourth and fifth respectively. Kennett's Mallory Austin (25:19) was sixth and Unionville's Ryann Diehl (25:27) finished seventh.

"Last year was one of the first winning seasons we've had in a while with girls cross country at Kennett," said Ferraro. "It's very much a young team that's growing and learning to be successful and competitive."

Their performance against Unionville should help in the confidence department. Unionville has been one of the most successful girls cross country programs in the state for years now. They won the PIAA Class AAA state title in 2004. Expectations are always high with the squad.

"The goal is to get back to states again this year," said Lacianca, "but we have some serious work to do and the kids know it. We are young and really inexperienced this season, and we haven't been in that position in a long time."

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