Mid-Penn Conference Championships - Meet Preview
Marlee Starliper and Taryn Parks are familiar rivals. But the junior pair, who have dominated PA distance running since they emerged onto the scene as freshman over two years ago, have yet to square off this season. Illness prevented an early-season PTXC 10 matchup, and Starliper raced at Paul Short this year, whereas Parks ran Carlisle.
But now PA#1 Starliper of Northern and PA#2 Parks of Greencastle-Antrim will square off at Big Spring, where they will meet two weeks later for the District 3 Championships. Parks is a two-time Mid-Penn champ, while Starliper was fourth as a freshman, but didn't race it last year. Starliper is definitely a go for this Saturday, though.
It should be an interesting race between these two AA stalwarts. Parks is running the best of her career, while Starliper has notched a pair of high-profile wins already this season.
The race features two other ranked runners with PA#19 Makenna Krebs of Central Dauphin East and PA#24 Kileigh Kane of State College Area. But this field is full of other upstarts. Carlisle's Sophia Toti has been impressive this season. So has the Hershey duo of Katie Jones and Faith Mark. Cedar Cliff's Corinne Firestone may be the fastest rising of the bunch. She won at Gettysburg last week and could be in line for another breakthrough at Big Spring.
In the team race, the ones to beat are the PA#5 State College Area girls, which will be going for its fourth straight Mid-Penn crown. Jordan Reed and Lizzie Gilpatrick led the way for SC at Carlisle where it placed fifth. After that, it's a free-for-all between some of the top District 3 squads. Northern, a AA team, has looked strong all season long, showing some impressive depth after lowstick Starliper. Carlisle, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, and Cumberland Valley will all be looking to get a leg-up before the district meet.
Expect a close one at Big Spring on the boys' side, as central PA looks to sort itself out a little more ahead of the District 3/District 6 Championships in two weeks.
The State College Area boys are the team favorites coming in. The consistently solid District 6 squad was last seen taking fourth at Foundation. This team has a tight 1-5 gap, but the PA#8 team will be challenged by some D3 teams looking to assert themselves. Carlisle is coming off a fourth place finish at its home invitational two weeks ago and then a strong showing in Delaware. The Herd have a lowstick in Jack Wisner, and will need the rest of its top five to have a big day for a chance to repeat as Mid-Penn champs.
Palmyra, one of the more interesting teams in the Mid-Penn, will be a team worth watching for. Chambersburg has looked strong this season, as well. Mifflin County, Cumberland Valley, Mechanicsburg, and Hershey are among the other teams with state aspirations this season that will be looking for a good showing on Saturday.
Individually, it will be a good one. Wisner from Carlisle was the top PA finisher at both Carlisle and Salesianum (DE) in consecutive weeks. He's running great this season and looks to be the one to beat. But he'll have company up front. Mifflin County's Brayden Harris was third at Carlisle and won at Gettysburg last week. Expect him to battle with Wisner.
Cumberland Valley's Luke Klingenberg will be one to watch. The senior transfer from California took fifth at Carlisle and third at Gettysburg. Mifflin County's Chayce Macknair, Mechanicsburg's Brandan Knepper, Palmyra's Jakolby Fackler, and Chambersburg's Trentin Overcash are among the others in this deep field. The State College duo of Bennett Norton and Owen Isham should figure in near the front for the team favorites.