2012 Class A Girls Preview:
Central Cambria v Elk Lake -
No shadows for Kennedy Weisner to chase.
By Lex Mercado
2012 will forever go down in Pennsylvania cross country as the first time that 3 divisions will be contested at the state championships. For all class A competitors and teams, they have the chance to become the first ever champions, a title that will never be taken away from them. Despite the new classification, all of the squads should be familiar with one another.
Many teams will be familiar with the 2011 AA state runner up team, Elk Lake. Led by last year's senior leader Maria Trowbridge, Elk Lake came within 3 points of winning the title. Consistent performances set them up for the state meet and they will need that again. Jenny VanEtten enters her sophomore season as the top runner after finishing 15th at states last year. Her talent along with four returning seniors could be the formula to a championship.
Central Cambria finished in 8th place at the 2011 AA championships, but having won this meet three times in a row from 2007-2009, you can never count them out. Alyssa Brandis is a returning medalist after finishing 12th last year and they bring back the entire varsity squad to the mix. They have an incredible middle school program, and when the pieces fit again, they'll be the Red Devils of the three-time champs.
West Middlesex also cracked the top ten in the AA championship race last season and they were led by two freshmen, Chloe Tyillian and Alyson Pierce. The team only had one senior in the top five and they had the best 1-5 spread in the state finals (50 seconds). Elk County Catholic finished right behind West Middlesex last year and they return with the top individual placer in the state meet last year.
2012 may be the year for Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner. Weisner has always been a solid runner in her first two seasons. But this will be the first year that she will no longer have to chase arguably the best female runner PA has ever produced, Angel Piccirillo. In the 2011-2012 season, Weisner finished 2nd to Angel in cross country, and in both the 1600 and 800 meter runs. While Angel was setting state meet records of 4:39 and 2:09, Weisner ran one of the best silver medalist doubles you may ever see, running 4:48 in the 1600 and 2:11 in the 800, performances that win most years.
Other runners who will be looking to make a name for themselves in the new Class A will be VanEtten of Elk Lake and Alyssa Brandis of Central Cambria, who were both medalists in AA in 2011. Erika Huffman of Wyalusing Area finished just outside of the medal places, earning 27th. Kristi Krishak and Kirsten Hollister of Elk Lake will be looking for medal places to help their team to gold.
TOP 25 RETURNERS
2012 Class A Boys Preview:
Can Canton do it? -
Jones, Galassi, Smathers chase gold.
By Lex Mercado
2012 is a new beginning for the schools and athletes in class A. It's a new chance for their own state glory individually and as a team. It is also an opportunity to be the first to win a state title in this division. A lot of the talent from AA last season have entered this new class.
Canton Area enter the new season after finishing 6th in the AA state race last season. This season's team will return four seniors and one sophomore from that team. They will also be the only team in class A to return five runners with lifetime 5000 meter bests under 18 minutes and they have the best 1-5 spread returning.
Vincentian Academy were 12th last season and will be led by 10th place finisher Ryan Archer and were the 3rd District VII finisher from the state meet. The squad returns all seven runners - Ryan's brother Alex also got a taste of the medal stand last season with a 15th place finish.
West Middlesex and Masterman both shared the same score for 4th place last season with Masterman winning the tie breaker to earn their best finish in program history. Five of the seven runners come back for Masterman. The graduation of Keaton Naff will make things a little bit tougher for a team that has two top ten finishes in the past four years. West Middlesex also returns five of their top seven, including two freshmen from the 2011 squad.
The individual competition for the gold medal will be headlined by the duo of Curt Jewett and Sam Williams of Northeast Bradford. Both runners earned top twenty finishes at states in AA with Sam Williams finishing 4th. The two also had solid track seasons, with Curt Jewett earning a silver medal in the AA 1600 meter run and Sam earning a medal in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Luke Jones of Elk Lake was the runner-up last year behind Brendan Shearn (AA) and he also earned a medal in the 3200 meter run in AA last spring. Jones also enters 2012 with the best 5000 meter time in 2011 (15:31). Rico Galassi of Holy Cross was the bronze medalist last season and was also the silver medalist in the AA 3200 meter run. Ryan Smathers of North East was 5th last year in cross country and arguably had one of the better spring seasons entering the 2012 season. Smathers ran 4:12.39 in the 1600 meter run and had seven sub 4:20 performances.
TOP 25 RETURNERS