Photo by Don Rich
PIAA Class A
Individuals - Can Mazza Repeat?
Saint Joseph's Catholic's Sera Mazza dethroned three-time state champion Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian Academy last year, but now the journey to a repeat for the rising junior begins. Mazza had a strong spring and will look to carry that into the fall. It won't be easy, though, as a host of returners from inside the top ten will be looking for the win as well.
The one to watch is Pine Grove Area's Christina Difalco. The rising junior burst onto the scene last fall and grabbed a surprise second place finish to Mazza. She ran a quick 10:47 for 3200 meters to win the AA state title and an 18:08 at NBNO a few weeks ago. Now she seems primed for an XC crown.
Holy Cross's Lexi Walsh missed the second half of last season and would have likely been a contender for the Class title. She'll return for her senior season and should be up there.
New Brighton's Alyssa Campbell, Marian Catholic's Tina Capparell, Country Day of the Sacred Heart's Emma Seifried, Shady Side's Jeanne Lauer, Union City's Abbie Anaya, and Fairfield Area's Lindsey Lytle all took home top ten finishes last year and will be looking to improve upon that this fall.
Teams - Lots Of Returners For 2-Time Defending Champs SJCA
Saint Joseph's Catholic Academy pulled off its incredible second straight state title in dramatic fashion last fall. SJCA tied Elk Lake for the state title, but the Wolves, led by the first place finish by Mazza, took the win with a better sixth runner.
Now SJCA returns five of seven, including its top four. A three-peat is certainly in the cards and they are no strangers to performing on the big stage. Vincentian Academy (fourth in 2016), the favorites headed into states last year, lose its #1 in Abdalah, but bring back the rest of its top seven.
Marion Center (third in 2016) loses Taya Whitfield, but returns five of seven. Elk Lake and Holy Cross will have another epic battle for the lone District 2 state qualifying spot with the winner likely to contend for the win at states. Country Day of the Sacred Heart should also contend behind a very powerful top three led by Seifried.