HERSHEY – Lexi Walsh navigated the long road back to Hershey for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Cross Country Championships and when she got there, she was better than ever.
The JB Hoops alum returned from missing last year’s postseason to place fifth in the state in Class A while leading the Holy Cross girls team to an eighth-place finish Saturday.
It was a big week for Walsh, an Old Forge resident and Holy Cross senior, who on Wednesday committed to run at Temple University where she will study kinesiology.
Walsh, who won her second District 2 individual and team championships in three years just 10 days earlier, completed the 3.1-mile Parkview Course in 19:18 in her final high school cross country race.
“I was in third to fifth for the majority of the race,” said Walsh, who missed the 2016 district and state meets because of mononucleosis. “I kept going back and forth.”
Walsh was pleased to end up in that range.
“Sophomore year, I medaled in eighth, so I was just hoping to get better than that,” she said.
Once Walsh made it back from mononucleosis to play basketball and run track last year for Holy Cross, she learned she has asthma.
Getting back to the top in cross country meant managing a combination of inhaled and oral medications.
“It’s been kind of tough with ups and downs,” Walsh said. “It really puts it in perspective because I was just really exciting to be running this season.
“Then, toward the end of the season, I started to feel like I was coming around.”
After hitting the one-mile mark in seventh place in 5:52, Walsh’s time of 5:26 over the second mile was the second-fastest in the 227-runner field to move her up to third.
Her time in Hershey was the second-best of any District 2 runner in any race, behind only Georgetown recruit Katie Dammer from Abington Heights, who was fourth in Class 3A.
Walsh completed an extended run with Backcourt Hoops in Scranton and its affiliated AAU teams during the summer. Before concentrating on running in college, she still has one more year of basketball left with the Lady Crusaders.