PA Pre-Season Preview Central
Pre-Season Rankings are posted on each story
Altoona and North Allegheny rely on depth - North Hills has a scary good top three. And with NXN and Foot Locker experience - is this Gil's year?
With graduation hitting several teams hard, the AAA boys picture is a little fuzzy.
With the season already underway, last year’s fourth place team, Altoona, is the pre-season favorite. They return four of their top seven, including two-time state medalist, Wade Endress. Altoona has been churning out track state titles for the last few years and will look to add another cross country state championship to the list during their recent resurgence – state champion cross country. Last year, Altoona’s 4-7 were 20 seconds apart at the state meet, they did lose a senior from that bunch, but their tight grouping will remain. Combining the front running of Endress and a strong 2-7, Altoona has very high hopes to hang XC State Championship banner to their gym’s rafters.
Since 2005, North Allegheny has had a steady progression in their state finishes, 2005-6th, 2006-5th, 2007-3rd, 2008-3rd, and 2009-2nd, which speaks volumes about the depth of their team. They return three of seven from last year’s team, led by third-place finisher, Ryan Gil. If they are able to replace the talent they had last year coupled with a top-five finish from Gil, they will be hard to beat. They also have the experience of being an NXN team in 2008, and Gil was a Foot Locker finalist last year.
If North Hills can find fourth and fifth runners to complement, the most potent 1-3 punch in the state, they will run away with the state title. Last year, they scored 33 points through three runners, the only team under 40 points for their top three. The next closest was Altoona’s 48. They were able to parlay those 33 points to an 8th place finish, but it could have been more. We will know very soon if they are, or are not a contender.
Conrad Weiser has five coming back from their 11th place team a year ago. The defending District III champs looked poised to make a run at the podium.
And don’t count out the defending champs, West Chester Henderson. They return four of seven from last year’s title team. They also return six of seven from a J.V. team that used a 17:26 average and 29-second spread to score 22 points to win the J.V. District I title. They are always in the mix of teams that could win a trophy.
Other Teams to watch (2009 finish, returnees) in alpha order Baldwin (5th, 4 of 7), Cardinal O’Hara (18th, 5 of 5), Council Rock North (12th, 4 of 7), Cumberland Valley (13th, 4 of 7), and Tunkhannock (16th, 5 of 7).
Twelve of the top twenty-five return from last year, including half of the top ten, led by North Allegheny’s Ryan Gil. Of those twelve, ten were on scoring teams and will be counted on again to deliver those low points to give their teams the best shot at finishing high. Gil was the runner-up in the outdoor 3200 (9:03) and looks poised to close out his stellar career with a state title, but he has quite the juggernaut to go through to do so.
The North Hills Trio of Joe Kush (5th), Juris Silenieks (13th), and Zach Hebda (27th) have the huge luxury of pushing each other every day in practice. Getting exposed to that level of talent on a daily basis will continue to help them improve and be a big advantage on race day when they help each other get to the top.
Two guys looking for redemption from last year’s race are Altoona’s Wade Endress (20th) and Grove City’s Jacob Kildoo (45th). Both looked like top five guys all last season, but didn’t have the race they had hoped for in Hershey. They will need to turn it around this year as it is their last shot at an XC title.
Council Rock North’s Chris Campbell (7th), Governor Mifflin’s Logan Mohn, and Tunkhannock’s Reece Ayers (9th) complete the returnees from the top ten. Campbell did a great job of moving up late in the race last year as he was not in the top 15 at two miles. Mohn broke away from the pack he was with at two miles and was the only one in the group to crack the top ten. Ayers was tied for fourth at two miles, two seconds behind the leaders, but faded a little over the last mile. All three will use what they learned in 2009 to make a push for the top spot.
-only 4 of the top 10 return at least 4 runners from 2009
-Conrad Weiser (11) and Council Rock North (12) north are the only teams in the top 15 who return 5 runners
-It took 16:42 to earn a medal, 8 seconds faster than 2008
-17 scorers in top 25, 10 were underclass
Individuals-Returning Medalists (12)
Ryan Gil, North Allegheny 3rd
Joe Kush, North Hills 5th
Chris Campbell, Council Rock North 7th
Logan Mohn, Governor Mifflin 8th
Reece Ayers, Tunkhannock 9th
Sam Hibbs, Hatboro Horsham 12th
Juris Silenieks, North Hills, 13th
Matt Kacyon, Whitehall 17th
Wade Endress, Altoona, 20th
Glen Burkhardt, Unionville 22nd
Bobby Bishop Baldwin 23rd
Logan Steiner, Meadville 25th
PTXC Pre-Season: Overall Top 10
2. North Allegheny
4. Council Rock North
6. North Hills
7. Cardinal O'Hara
8. Cumberland Valley
T-10. Council Rock South