Competing against the best of the best in track is usually left until a runner gets to the high school ranks. For six Lionville Middle School runners, they will get the opportunity before setting foot in high school.
Logan Carey, Corinne Lillis, Cassie and Alania Stouchausen, and Tory Mullane will compete in the 4 x 800 relay at the national meet in Virginia from July 29-Aug. 5. Jack Morgenthaler will also compete for the Exton Track Club in the 1500 meters.
"The girls had one of the top 50 times in the nation in 4 x 800 in indoor and outdoor," said Coach Dave Wiedlich. "Jack is in the top 30 for sub-youth in the nation for the 1500."
The girls relay team is seeded tenth going into nationals with a few regions still to be seeded and Morgenthaler is also seeded tenth. The top eight finishers earn a medal at the meet.
Wiedlich and Kathleen Ferry started the cross country program at Lionville two years ago and still have two more years until they are an officially recognized PIAA sport.
"Last year we had 55 participants in cross country, more than the football team had," said Wiedlich.
In order to qualify for nationals, the runners had to finish in the top six at the District meet, which is made up of Pennsylvania and Delaware teams. Morgenthaler won the meet and the girls finished second and each received an automatic bid to run at the Regional meet. The region consists of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware.
"Jack finished fourth, 8/10 of second out of second place," said Wiedlich. "The girls finished third. The top four qualify for nationals."
Wiedlich believes the girls have a very good shot at medaling.
They have a possibility at medaling," he said. "Four seconds separate the fourth through 15th seeds."
In order to prepare the kids to run in high heat and humidity in the early morning at nationals, Wiedlich and Ferry have been holding practice at 7:15 a.m. throughout the week.
"We're trying to get the kids ready to run at 8 a.m.," he said.
Aside from competing in their first national meet, the runners are all excited to be among the best of the best.
"We're excited," said Lillis. "We've been training a lot, so we're ready."
"It's gonna be a really fun experience," said Carey. "We all want to get our personal best."
This is Morgenthaler first full year of training in track and is glad to be among the best so early.
"I feel pretty excited," he said. "I came in not knowing what I was doing, I feel pretty lucky."