Loyalsock’s Isabel Sagar wins first cross-country district title for Lancers

Isabel Sagar, of Loyalsock, finishes in first place during the District 4 Girls Class A Cross County Championships at Bloomsburg University on Thursday morning.

BLOOMSBURG — Thursday was the first time Isabel Sagar had to wear gloves and a hat for a race. The blustery conditions on Mount Olympus at Bloomsburg University were all new to the Loyalsock sophomore.

She’s lived in Pennsylvania for only two months, moving here from San Antonio, Texas, just before the season started when he dad got a new job. So the sub-freezing wind chill coupled with a rain which seemed to blow in runners’ faces no matter which direction they ran, just was not optimal for Sagar.

She made the best of it, though. She took a positive mindset into yesterday’s District 4 Cross Country Championships on what felt like the first day of winter and turned it into her first district title. Sagar bested returning district champion Tori Ross, of Warrior Run, in the Class A race to give Loyalsock the first district cross country champion in Loyalsock’s history.

Although, the Lancers didn’t have to wait long for its second champion as Quinn Serfass won the boys Class AA race later in the day.

“This is pretty cool,” Sagar said as she tried to warm up under a jacket. “I’m very humbled and blessed to be able to do this.”

Troy won the Class A team title and will move on to the state meet No. 5 in Hershey. Southern Columbia’s Haley Scopelliti (third), Northeast Bradford’s Karli Moyer (fourth) and Wyalusing’s Hannah Corson (fifth) all qualified for the state meet as individuals.

In the Class AA race, Danville bested Selinsgrove, 55-79, to win the team title. Both teams will compete in Hershey. Milton’s Arianne Raymond (sixth), Cowanesque Valley’s Jules Jones (seventh), Jersey Shore’s Sidney Trunzo (10th) and Abby Gerst (11th), Lewisburg’s Ruby Auman (12th) and Lauren Michaels (16th) and Montoursville’s Kayla Trimble (13th) all qualified for states as individuals.

The girls Class A race was a two-runner race from the outset as Ross and Sagar sprinter to the front of the field. But before the first loop of the course finished, Sagar had built a 20-meter lead over Ross, who finished 30th in the state meet last fall.

That lead for Sagar never diminished and stretched to as much as 40 meters over the final loop of the course. As Sagar traversed the final stretch of the course into a gusting head wind, she had an insurmountable lead and cruised to the win.

Sagar finished in 20 minutes, 15 seconds, with a 6:32 per mile pace. Ross, who also qualified for the state meet, finished in 20:37, nearly 30 seconds behind her winning time from a year ago.

Sagar was a Class 5A state qualifier in Texas last year as a freshman, finishing 88th in a 151-runner field for Boerne Champion High School. Sagar said the training has been different under Loyalsock coach Nicole Reed than it was under her coach in Texas, but she’s found success with both programs.

She arrived at Loyalsock about only a week prior to the Lancers’ first meet of the season. But being a part of the cross country team helped Sagar assimilate to her new school.

“That was the number one thing which helped me moving here,” she said. “It’s hard enough just moving. But when you already have a group before school starts to speak to and sit with at lunch, it made everything 10 times easier.”

What wasn’t easy were the conditions at Bloomsburg University. A steady overnight rain made the course slick, especially in the turns where mud patches had formed. The wind carried the runners to the hospital loop part of the course, and was like running into a wall during the closing stretch of the loop.

“I felt like I wasn’t moving for a lot of it. It definitely was hard,” Sagar said of the closing stretch. “I was worried that Tori was going to catch up to me. I felt like I was moving very slow. But luckily I was able to push through.”

When Sagar stepped outside Thursday morning, she knew it wasn’t going to be the most advantageous day to run. And the temperature was 50 degrees cooler than it was in San Antonio yesterday. But she tried to stay as positive as she could, even when getting used to running with gloves and a hat.

“I definitely had to get used to that. And all the hills because Texas is very flat,” Sagar said. “I just tried to stay positive. It sounds like a poster line, but it helps me to think that I can make the most of this. When I’m running, I’m thinking I can make the most of this. And that helps with my stride and my confidence.”