Cross Country season is once again upon us, and so it is time for the XC diehards at Milesplit to share with you our thoughts on the upcoming season. There are championships to defend and new champions to crown, and so what follows is our yearly attempt to inform you of those teams and individuals with the best chance of finishing atop the standings at the end of the season. Alas, this IS Cross Country, a sport in which anything can and will happen. It is also a sport in which a relative unknown can rise to the top in spectacular fashion, which is why we all love it.
So read the previews, watch the races, and enjoy the pure beauty of the sport as the season unfolds.
AA Girls Team
A battle will be brewing at the front of the AA pack this year with last year’s state championship team returning a talented squad (Left at 2007 Altoona Inv) sans star Carly Seymour, and Lewisburg (Below right) looking for a championship to call their own. Central Cambria returns 6 runners from last year led by Annie Cekada and Kelsey Seymour, and they will be looking to repeat. Central Cambria was so strong that even without Carly they would have won last year. Lewisburg is strong up front, led by Sophia Ziemian and Kiah Hardcastle, but also return 2 strong sophomore runners from last year.
They will not be adding 800 sensation Kalyn Fisher, who has opted for soccer. Union City and West Middlesex return all runners from their strong finishes of 4th and 5th respectively and could move up the ranks this season. St. Basil Academy returns 6 runners led by Colleen Gilmore, and always find a way to finish in the top of the pile in the state meet. Danville returns 5 runners from last year and could work their way into the top 5.
Lauren Zarger, Harbor Creek, is the top returner from last season, having placed 4th behind 3 seniors, and running a 10:41.90 3200 for 3rd at states in track means she has improved even more. Lauren has been a steady performer, finishing 2nd as a freshman, 3rd as a sophomore, and 4th last year. All of the runners that bested Lauren are gone, leaving the opportunity open for her to close out her high school career with a state championship. She will have some competition from 2 strong Lewisburg runners in Sophia Ziemian and Kiah Hardcastle. Sophia had an excellent spring with a 17:34.98 5k at NON. Also at NON, Kiah ran a time of 18:00.10 for the 5k distance. Cecelia Forshee, Phil-Mont Christian, is the 2nd returner, and after a 5:10.16 mile this spring, she looks ready for a top-5 finish this year. Also competing for a top-10 finish are 10 runners who were separated by 15 seconds in last year’s state championship race. Kayleigh Perry, Eastern Lebanon, (state 1600 runner-up), Leah Anne Wirfel, Forest Hills, (5:06.95), Colleen Gilmore, St. Basil, (18:50), Heather Weiss, Tulpehocken, (5:07.53), Katie Sick, Millville, (18:54.59), Kady Schrann, York Catholic, (19:01), Ciara Shorts, Fort Leboeuf, (19:23), Annie Cekada, Central Cambria, (19:34), Kelsey Seymour, Central Cambria, (2:14.55), and Kendall Seymour, Central Cambria, (19:27).