Scranton freshman Bella Noreika won the Class 3A girls race at the District 2 Cross Country Championships. She covered the 3.1-mile course at Lakeland High School in 19 minutes, 55.0 seconds and beat defending champion Lydia Smith of Williamsport by 18.6 seconds.
She also helped the Lady Knights finish second in the team standings, just eight points in back of Abington Heights.
Here is more from Noreika’s Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Track and field
Athletes I admire: High school distance runner Katelyn Tuohy and marathoner Eliud Kipchoge. Katelyn is really fast and she’s only a junior or senior (in New York) and Eliud broke two hours in the marathon (in Vienna).
Favorite food: Sushi
Superstitions and rituals: I always wear pink socks and I always eat an Asian salad the day before a race.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: YouTube personality David Dobrik, Eliud Kipchoge, Taylor Swift
Post-graduation plans: I’d like to run at a Division I college.
Were you surprised you were able to pull away from Smith over the second half of the race and win by as wide a margin as you did? I didn’t expect to get that much of a lead. I thought we’d be only a few seconds apart.
When did you know you had the race in hand? I could tell I was farther ahead. I don’t know what mile it was, but it was the last part where you go around the baseball field. I kind of saw (the lead I had) and I kind of knew I had it.
You ran the PIAA Foundation race in Hershey earlier this year and finished 30th. How do you think that will help you for the state meet? Now I know how the hills are; the hills on that course are really hard. So I have an idea of what they’re like.
Two of you teammates, Amelia King and Emily Hopkins, also qualified for states: It’s good that they’re coming so I won’t be alone. I’m really happy they made it because no we’ll have experience for the next years.
Scranton has a young team with a lot of underclassmen. How excited are you for the team’s future? Over the next few years, we’ll get really good. We have an eighth grader that’s really good coming up and our other teammates are freshmen and one sophomore. So we’re going to be together for a while. We’d really like to go to states as a team.
How did you get into running? I started in seventh grade. I didn’t really have a reason, I just thought it would be fun. I started getting good in eighth grade.
During more than 30 years at The Times-Tribune, Scott has covered everything from high schools to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His current beats include motor sports, local colleges and high school cross country. He also is a copy editor and page designer. His articles have won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Eastern Motorsports Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Keystone Press. He also has been honored by the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and the Minor League Football Alliance. In 2016, he was presented the Media Service Award by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A Long Island, New York, native, Scott graduated from the University of Scranton in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He lives in Peckville with his wife, Andrea, and daughters, Bridget and Emily. Contact him at email@example.com; 570-348-9100, x5109; or @swalshTT on Twitter