Central League Championships
Conestoga's Dominique Shultz will look to defend her CAL title on Saturday. Shultz pulled away last year to take the win and she'll be a strong favorite to take the repeat as a senior. The West Point commit was fifth at Briarwood and tenth at Paul Short this season after opening her season with a win at the Cherokee Challenge in NJ.
Shultz will also lead the team favorites into Saturday. Nia Goddard, Emily DeSantis, and Anna Twomey make for a formidable top group that should rack up some medals. They're also a major contender for one of the five state bids out of District 1. Goddard ran 19:19 at Paul Short.
Lower Merion has a pair of strong runners that will look to challenge for the win on Saturday. Sarah Hurst and Eliza Keefe finished sixth and seventh in the White Race at Paul Short a few weeks ago. Hurst, a freshman, has really emerged onto the scene in her first season, while Keefe is a senior in the midst of a breakthrough season.
Harriton's Michelle Qin is coming off a strong race at Tennent and will look to contend up front on Saturday. Strath Haven's Taylor Barkdoll, Ridley's Jamie Green (the 2015 CAL champ), Radnor's Caroline Ditrolio are among the other top five hopefuls set for Saturday.
While 'Stoga are the team favorites, Strath Haven will look to challenge. Haven are the defending champs and have a way of coming alive at this time of the year. Lower Merion, Haverford, and Radnor are among the other teams that will look for strong performances as well.
Photo by Abby Huber
Five of the top six finishers from last year's Central League Champs have either graduated or transferred, making Penncrest's Avery Lederer (PA#13) the heavy favorite on Saturday. Lederer is fresh off a win at DELCOs last week and he'll look for another win to keep his strong postseason going.
So who could challenge him? Maybe Ridley's Zack Forney, who was second top Lederer at DELCOs last week. Forney was 28th at CALs last week, but is running much better this season. Forney will look to reverse his fortune on Lederer and capture the league title.
Jake Robinson of Conestoga could make a good run, too. He went 16:02 at Paul Short and was seventh in the league last season. He's running the best of his career and could make some noise on Saturday. Lower Merion's Charlie Herrmann and the Penncrest duo of Justin Senackerib and Patrick Theveny are among the other individual contenders.
After a big DELCO win, Penncrest will look to grab the team title at CALs, too. With Lederer providing a low stick and the likes of Senackerib and Theveny, they'll be tough to beat. Lower Merion and Strath Haven are among the teams with the best shot at the upset.
Lower Merion are the defending champs. Along with Herrmann, Danny Gabor and Joey Litvin have developed into solid 2-3 runners. Haven, which was just six points better than LM at Paul Short, have a very tight pack (top five separated by just 23 seconds at Paul Short) led by Peter Armour and Cole Wirth.
GIRLS PREVIEW (By Bill Coren, Strath Haven girls' coach)
TEAM TITLE--- There are 12 Central League teams. CONESTOGA will at least share the title after going 11-0 in the league as they defeated STRATH HAVEN(10-1) back on 9-6. CONESTOGA ran great at PAUL SHORT and is likely a STATE qualifying team!! Battling for 2nd will be STRATH HAVEN, HAVERFORD, LOWER MERION, and RADNOR.
PREDICTION!-CONESTOGA defeats STRATH HAVEN and HAVERFORD and fairly handily wins the CHAMPIONSHIP!!
INDIVIDUAL---The TOP 7 Girls make 1st team ALL-CENTRAL. It looks like these 2 girls will definitely make it-Shultz(CON)(12)(1st 2016) and Green(RID)(12)(4th 2016). The other 5 spots have a number of girls vying for a high finish. Among them are Keefe(LM)(12)-Hurst(LM)(9)-DiT
As for the individual champion--Shultz(CON)(12)(1st 2016) is the defending champ and the overwhelming favorite to be the Central League Champion.
PREDICTION!!-Shultz(CON)(12) easily defends her title!!