Team Breakdown: PIAA District 1 Boys

D1-AAA Boys - Team Breakdown

For the first time since 1999, a state title returned to Council Rock, as the boys from Council Rock North left no doubt about who the state's best team was in 2016. CR North rolled to the win at the District 1 Championships, winning by an incredible 116 points. A week later North took the state title by 42 points.

North loses two from that powerful top five, but still have Ryan Campbell (seventh at states), Sam Earley (25th at states), and Ethan Koza (43rd at states). Kevin Ehrgott ran 16:19 at districts last year and should be a valuable contributor this season as well. It will need a strong fifth to step up---possibly Matt Mullen, who was on varsity last season to make another title a reality. North always seems to find the talent at the right time, and if it can do that again, there are few teams with the ability to stop them.

But District 1 has plenty of strong teams, who will battle it out for those five spots in the state meet.

Downingtown West, the 2015 state champs, came back in a big way last season, despite losing its top three. It loses six runners from its team at states that took third overall. The Whippets have a ton of depth, though, and led by Tyler Rollins, West should be in the mix for a high finish in the state once again.

One team you can never count out is West Chester Henderson. It has qualified for every state meet since 2007, and has a strong top runner in Spencer Smucker. Henderson loses some seniors from last year's team (which placed fifth at districts and eighth in the state), but the Warriors can retool like no other team in the state. Central Bucks West, meanwhile, loses four boys from its ninth-place states team from '16. Michael Samson and Ben Bunch are West's top returners.

Photo by Ethan Rissell

Spring Ford was the unlucky sixth in the district for the second straight year last fall, just missing the state meet once again. Looking to this year, Spring Ford returns five from last year's team; four of which will be seniors. They will have all the motivation in the world to get over that hump this season, and Spring Ford is a strong team capable of bigger things than just a state berth. North Penn will be strong as well this year. The Knights took 11th in the district last season, but it will return a lot of depth this season. It may need a frontrunner---perhaps '16 state qualifiers Colin Grace or Brendan O'Toole---but North Penn will be in the mix for a states spot for sure.

An interesting team this season will be Bishop Shanahan. It brings back its top six from last year, and up front Shanahan has Josh Hoey, who was third in the state in 2015 in XC and has run track PRs of 1:49 in the 800 meters and 4:08 in the mile. Hoey had wasn't at his best last fall, so we'll see if he can rebound this year on the trails. Logan Yoquinto and Jonah Hoey among others will be key to Shanahan's success

Led by star freshman from las year, Carlos Shultz, Conestoga will be a contender with some strong returners in addition to Shultz. Central Bucks East has a good amount of returners from last year and will look to get back to states like 2015. Boyertown, Penncrest, West Chester East and Owen J. Roberts are teams with some good sleeper potential in this always-deep District 1 AAA.