---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG -- From the start of their respective high school careers, Danville's Mackenzie Jones and Shikellamy's Treicy Cedeno have been nipping at each other's heels time and again.
Regardless of whether the sport was cross country or track and field, the two sophomores have had to share the limelight with each other.
But in Thursday's District 4 Championship Meet held at Bloomsburg University, it was Cedeno's time to shine once again.
Cedeno repeated as the Class AA champion by winning the race in 19 minutes and 8 seconds, more than half a minute ahead of Jones, who finished second in 19:46.
In addition to her second consecutive runner-up showing at districts, Jones helped lead Danville to the Class AA team title, 32-63, over Lewisburg.
Still, it was Cedeno who stole the show on the day.
"I felt really good today, although the weather wasn't the best, but I fought through it," said Cedeno. "Mackenzie did really good, too, but I'm happy that I was able to run a good race today.
"My time wasn't better than my time last year (18:42)," added Cedeno. "But I'm still happy. I got first and that's worth it."
Cedeno wasted little time getting out to the lead along with Jones and Lewisburg's Allison Graham. And once Cedeno got to the front, she stayed there for the remainder of the race.
"I tried getting a good start this time, and I think that helped me get a good lead," said Cedeno, who won't be the only member of her family to run in the PIAA Championship Meet next Saturday.
Cedeno's younger sister, Yoangelys, also qualified for states by virtue of her third-place finish in 20:02.
"I'm like really excited to go to states and run against everyone, and I'm happy I get to go with my sister," Yoangelys said. "I tried my hardest (to keep up with Treicy), but me and Mackenzie worked together.
"(Mackenzie) was behind me and then she passed me, and I tried to stay with her and close the gap," added Yoangelys. "I think we both worked together and we both did really good."
The cold and blustery conditions on the day made running difficult for some, including Jones, who finished 22 seconds off her time from a year ago.
"I thought the weather really made my legs tight, but I decided I was going to go out and just run," said Jones. "When (Treicy) started out I knew where I should be, and I was like 'I'll go with her and run my race and run the pace I need.'
"It's always nice to know that there's somebody out there better than you, so you have a reason to train and so your head doesn't get too big," Jones added. "I know I definitely would not be as good of a runner I am now if I didn't have (Treicy) to race against."
Led by Jones, Danville had its first five runners place among the top 10 -- Emily Haney (5th, 30:24), Maddy Messa (6th, 20:37), Katelyn Maffei (9th, 21:21) and Hannah Maize (10th, 21:22) -- while Sara Turner and Abby Raup brought up the rear for the Ironmen in places 15 and 21.
"Our grouping was good, and it was perhaps the best grouping we've had all year. That was the key," said Danville coach Jeff Brandt. "Our depth is tremendous. Our seventh runner did a great job, so we have a lot of depth.
"We are hopefully going to use this win as a huge stepping stone for states. Last year we were sixth, and we like to improve on that."
Danville needed its depth to beat Lewisburg, which got a pair of top-10 finishes from sophomore Allison Graham (7th, 20:40) and freshman Jordan Hartzel (8th, 21:09).
Following close behind for the Green Dragons were Blake Baylor (12th, 21:24), Katie Edwards (17th, 21:47) and Jenna Farmer (23rd, 22:13). Kara Devine and Rachel Ziegler were 31st and 39th, respectively.
After a third-place finish at districts year ago, Lewisburg is once again back in the state meet.
"I'm real happy to have them (back in states). They ran a real aggressive race today and they did what they needed to do," said Lewisburg coach Mark Sundberg. "We didn't have everybody have a best day. I think that there's more there, but we were happy to get by with (how we ran Thursday).
To get that team back (into states), the girls are ecstatic," added Sundberg.
Other state qualifiers from the area in Class AA included Mifflinburg junior Sarah Lemon (4th, 20:31), Milton sophomore Kaylee Long (11th, 21:23), plus Selinsgrove freshman Ashley Blair (16th, 21:46) and senior Rachael Laubscher (19th, 22:03).
In Class A, Mansfield won the team title over Wellsboro, 38-54.
Individually, Mount Carmel senior Lauren Hause qualified for the state meet by finishing 7th in 21:36.