If the boys AAA race for the individual state title did not have a favorite, after Saturday’s Brown race, it had a big one.
Colin Abert of Easton had been waiting in the wings for this opportunity since setting the PTXC course record on September 6th in 15:21. During that time, his performance was #1 on the state list until last Saturday. Abert earned that spot back in a big way! Abert pulled away early from a star studded field once he discovered that no one was going to take the pace. At the mile mark, he was already 30 meters ahead of the pack. From that moment on, it was him against the clock. When the smoke had cleared, Abert reclaimed his number 1 spot in the state and the Northeast region with a Paul Short meet record time of 14:55! The time is the 3rd fastest performance on the Lehigh University 5000 meter course, and is the fastest PA performance since the 2006 season!
Griffin Molino of South Williamsport finished 3rd with a personal best 15:18, while Paul Power of Spring Ford followed up his big PIAA Foundation performance with a 4th place finish in 15:24!
Just like the individual race, the team title race wasn’t close either. PA#1 Malvern Prep had two top ten finishers in Jaxson Hoey and Billy McDevitt help solidify their top ranking with a big 118-165 win over Cumberland Valley. Malvern had a 50 second spread between their 1st and 5th runner, the 3rd best in the race, with both Hoey and McDevitt running 15:40 or faster. Easton finished 3rd with 200 points and Hershey finished 4th with 218 points.
The boys white race introduced us to Gabriel Allgayer of Mercersburg Academy, who was able to hold off the in-form Julian Degroot-Lutzner of Masterman to win the white race in a 45 second personal best of 15:50! Downingtown East was the latest team to keep Holy Ghost Prep off the top of the team medal stand. The District 1 AAA squad placed five in the top 40 and managed to hold off Holy Ghost Prep and their 47 second spread to win the team title 116-135.
The girls Brown race became an instant classic, as Marissa Sheva of Pennridge, Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley, and Olivia Sargent of Pennsbury all battled it out for the chance to win individual gold. The trio were together through a mile and a half, before Sheva made her move to pull away. Clahane held her own and hung tough with the senior up until the last 150 meters, where Clahane went to make her final push, only for Sheva to find enough strength to hold her off and claim her 3rd win of the season! Sheva’s time of 17:34 was 2 seconds better than Clahane, and it was her fastest performance for nearly two years. Clahane’s 17:36 was the 2nd best time of her career. Sargent ran 17:52 to finish 3rd.
The race also saw the 5000 meter debut of Pennsbury, who went head to head with Cardinal O’Hara, who were entering the race undefeated against PA competition in four invitational performances. O’Hara ran their best 1-5 spread of the season with a race best 34 seconds with two in the top 10. Pennsbury had two in the top ten as well, but had a 3rd in 12th overall. That edge was just enough to hold off O’Hara 97-108 to win the team title.
In the white race, Kayla Connelly of Lansdale Catholic earned her 2nd invitational victory of her career, running 18:39 to win by a narrow 3 seconds. Owen J Roberts were the only team with three finishers inside the top 15 overall places, which was enough to hold off Downingtown East and their 59 second spread by a score of 92-105.
Girls Brown Preview by Bill Coren
This race will be very competitive. There are at least 10 fairly strong teams, although the TOP 3 appear to be stronger than the rest! As for the other 7, they all have had some success this season.
STRATH HAVEN--1st ABINGTON-!st BULLDOG SMALL-4th FOUNDATION GOLD-2nd BULL RUN ELITE
CONESTOGA--Beat STRATH HAVEN in a dual meet-3rd at CHEROKEE
CUMBERLAND VALLEY--1st PTX6 GOLD-4th CARLISLE CHALLENGE
ELK LAKE--3rd PTX6 BLUE-1st FOUNDATION WHITE
HOLY CROSS--1st NORTHAMPTON-2nd FOUNDATION WHITE
PERKIOMEN VALLEY--2nd PTX6 GOLD-1st FRETZ
OWEN J ROBERTS--2nd TWIN VALLEY-2nd FRETZ
The TOP 3 are likely to finish 1-2-3. PENNSBURY, PADUA(DEL), and CARDINAL OHARA all look better than the rest.
PENNSBURY--2nd at CHEROKEE(to UNIONVILLE)
PADUA--1st WHITE CLAY-1st CARLISLE CHALLENGE
OHARA--1st TWIN VALLEY-1st BRIARWOOD CHAMPIONSHIP-1st FOUNDATION GOLD-2nd CARLISLE CHALLENGE
PADUA beat OHARA at CARLISLE, but it was a battle. PADUA’s top 2 girls appear stronger than OHARA’s top girls, but OHARA’s strength is its pack, and in a quality race like this, that may put them past PADUA.
PENNSBURY is as always PENNSBURY!!!! They are well coached and have runners with big race experience, and they will be running their 1st 2014 Invitational!!! Expect them to win PAUL SHORT and set them up for another shot at a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP and a NATIONAL berth!
Although there are at least 40 very strong runners in this race, only 20 will win LEHIGH shirts!!! Those 20 will all likely have to be under 19:00. As for who will be the Individual champion, only 2 girls really have a chance!! Sheva(PENNRIDGE)(12) was 1st at SHARP and 1st at PTX6 GOLD. She has run well every year after bursting on to the XC scene as a freshman. Her 400 meter speed should really help out on a course like LEHIGH. Clahane(CUMBERLAND VALLEY)(11) lost to Sheva by 11 seconds at PTX6, but she dominated on the fast CARLISLE course!! THIS WILL BE FUN TO WATCH--two PA girls going head-to-head on a fast LEHIGH course!
Girls White Preview
Class A state champions Holy Cross will be the headliners of the white race. The District 2 squad will toe the line for the first time since their September 20 defeat to rivals Elk Lake at the PIAA Foundation Invitational. Mackenzie Greenfield and Lexi Walsh will be favored to finish in one of the top positions, as they have both broken 19 minute this season. They will be chased by District 1 squads Owen J Roberts, Downingtown East, and West Chester Henderson. Henderson is coming off of a runner up finish at the Adidas XC Challenge Invitational race two weeks ago, and Maddie Bixler will be one of the contenders for gold in this race. Downingtown East is coming off a narrow 3rd place finish at last week’s Council Rock Invitational, missing 2nd place by 2 points. Lexi VanBlunk will lead the way. Owen J Roberts won the Harrier Invitational at Pottstown by 4 points over Springside Chestnut Hill last week, and missed out on gold against Perkiomen Valley by 6 points at Chris Fretz two weeks ago. Kayla Connelly of Lansdale Catholic is the other sub 19 minute runner entering the race on Saturday. The sophomore is competing for the first time since her Bulldog Invite win 3 weeks ago.
Some of 2014’s biggest stars will be going head to head in the first high school race at the Paul Short Run. A wet course may slow down the attempt at a sub 15 minute performance, but as this season has shown us, anything can happen no matter what the conditions.
The star studded lineup includes Colin Abert of Easton, the state’s top runner for virtually the entire month of September. His course record 15:21 performance at PTXC 6 was the last time Abert competed at an invitational race. The senior has been looking forward to this day since that historic day. What can he do for an encore?
Out to spoil his return to the big race scene is Germantown Friends sophomore Nick Dahl. Dahl’s finished 4th at the Adidas XC Challenge in North Carolina in 15:29. This will be Dahl’s biggest cross country race of his young career in PA. How will the talented young star handle the big spotlight race? Jaxson Hoey of Malvern Prep will look to improve from his 6th place finish at Carlisle last weekend. His seasonal best of 15:30 was on the hilly Belmont Plateau course on September 13. What can the junior do on a flat course that is favorable for fast times? Class A state champion Griffin Molino has 15:43 in both of his invitational victories. This will be the most competitive race Molino has been in since his Spiked Shoe win. Can he get under 15:43 and earn another big gold medal? Paul Power of Spring Ford is coming off the biggest race of his career when he set the meet record at the PIAA Foundation Invite two weeks ago. He beat some big time runners in that race on the hilliest course in the state. The flat and friendly Lehigh course awaits and Power will look to prove that his big win 2 weeks ago was not just a flash in the pan.
The chase for the team title will be the first of two head to head matchups between Independent school state champions Malvern Prep and Friends League champions Germantown Friends. These two programs have been the best in the Independent division for the better part of 7 years. Both have strong front runners supported by youth and experience. Malvern won the Briarwood Invitational on September 13th over Cardinal O’Hara, CB East and Lasalle. Germantown Friends finished 8th in the championship race at the Adidas XC Challenge in North Carolina. Who will draw first blood on Saturday?
Chasing them will be Parkland and Bensalem. Bensalem were victorious at the Rose Tree Invitational large school race and finished in the top ten at PIAA Foundation. Parkland were the winners of the Centaur Invitational back on September 13. Cumberland Valley and Hempfield (3) are coming off top ten finishes at Carlisle last weekend.
The boys white race will be a tight finish for the top team position. Holy Ghost Prep has been one of the busiest teams in the District 1 AA division, competing in four invitationals this season and finishing in the top ten in each of them. They will be seeking their first win of the season on Saturday against Downingtown East and Elizabethtown Area. Downingtown East had their best race of the season at the Centaur Invite, a 4th place finish where they defeated Holy Ghost Prep. Elizabethtown Area finished 4th in the Champions race at Carlisle last week with a 10 second 1-5 spread and a 15 second 1-6 spread.
Julian DeGroot-Lutzner of Masterman is the only competitor in the field that has a big meet victory under their belt. His two victories at PIAA Foundation gives him the big race experience advantage. Gabriel Allgayer of Mercersburg Academy is the lone sub 16:20 performer in the field. Ben Wilson of Central Dauphin will also be in the mix for the gold medal.