Photo by Don Rich
Mid-Penn Conference Championships - Meet Preview
Nothing has come close to standing in the way of Marlee Starliper this season. The Northern freshman will look to add another win at Big Spring on Saturday. Starliper rolled to wins at Enos Yeager, Ben Bloser, and most recently Carlisle, where she blasted a 16:50. Firmly on the national radar, Starliper will be the heavy favorite to take the Mid-Penn title.
The defending Mid-Penn champ, however, is in this race and can't be forgotten about. Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks hasn't raced much this season (just two out-of-state invitationals), but we'll she what kind of shape the sophomore and reigning 2A state champ is in.
Chambersburg senior Abby Yourkavitch is also in the field. She won earlier this season at PTXC9 and then captured the Gettysburg win last week. Look for her to be in the mix. Hershey's Andrea Demko was second to Yourkavitch at Gettysburg and will likely also put herself in amongst the leaders.
On the team side, the State College Area girls will go for its third straight Mid-Penn title. The District 6 stalwarts sit at PA#5 coming into the weekend. Kane has emerged into a strong #1 runner as a junior after winning the conference's JV crown last fall. Emma Simon, Jordan Reed, Cailin Saylor, and Gabbi Bock make for a powerful squad.
Hershey will be State College's biggest threat. The District 3 squad won last week at Gettysburg and is coming around nicely with Demko and Mark making up a solid top two. Chambersburg, led by Yourkavitch could also pose a nice challenge. It will also be a nice test for 2A squad Northern, which surely has some high hopes for the postseason behind the heavy favorite of Starliper. Carlisle could also mix it up with those top teams.
The individual matchup for the Mid-Penn title will be between Mechanicsburg's Morgan Cupp and State College's Mitchell Etter. Cupp took runner-up finishes at both the Council Rock Invitational and the Carlisle Invitational, so you have to figure the senior is hungry for a win. Etter, meanwhile, won at Penn State and then took fourth in the Gold Race at the Foundation Invite in Hershey. This should be a good battle between these two.
Carlisle's Jack Wisner could get in that fight, too. After taking 13th at his home invite, he was third at Salesianum last week and will look to get a crucial low stick for his team. Mifflin County has a pair of strong runners that should get in the mix, too. Brayden Harris has been one of the state's top freshman and will look to keep it going into Saturday. His teammate Chayce Macknair will also look for a strong day on the course.
Mechanicsburg's Brandan Knepper, Cumberland Valley's Andrew Brown, Palmyra's Matt Carroll, and State College's Owen Isham are among the other individuals with a good shot at a top five finish on Saturday.
The team race will help give us a better idea about which teams could be the ones to beat in both District 3 and District 6. The Mid-Penn title, however, will be close between D3's Carlisle and D6's State College Area.
State College beat Carlisle 65-77 at early September's Spiked Shoe Invite at Penn State, but Carlisle has looked strong since then. Despite the loss of the Affolder brothers and Isaac Kole, Carlisle retooled nicely. Led by Wisner, it will try to repeat as conference champs with contributions from Drew Barefield and Cade Rush. For SC, Etter will supply a low stick and Isham and transfer Erik Boethius will be crucial.
Cumberland Valley, Palmyra, Lower Dauphin, and Mifflin County are among the other strong squads (and state meet hopefuls) that will try to make a big impression on Saturday in what should be an intriguing conference championship for sure.