By Lex Mercado
Girls - Teams
Last season, 3 points are all that separated the AA team champions and their challengers. Those champions have earned the right to defend those championships. The competition chasing them is fierce and repeating will be difficult.
Defending girls champions Palmyra have had a solid season and are being led by Miranda Salvo, the District 3 champion. They have a top five invitiational finish at Carlisle and at the Mid-Penn Conference Championships. They will be returning to the state meet with a tough mountain to climb, as they will be chasing District 3 team champions and last year's 5th place finishers York Suburban, who have run with a sub 60 second 1-5 spread to not only beat Palmyra at District 3, but also back in September at the Carlisle Invitational. The sophomore combination of Olivia Gettle and Emma Leik lead the way and should feel confident entering Saturday's race.
District 2 champions Dallas return looking to make up for that 3 point defeat to Palmyra last season, although it has been a tricky road back to Hershey. Last year's 3rd place state finisher Regan Rome has been limiting her competition schedule this season while trying to return from nagging injuries. But her team has picked up the slack in her absence and have performed well in their last two meets, taking home their league and district titles in comfortable fashion. In fact, they went one-two-three at District 2.
District 10 champions and 2012 4th place finishers Villa Maria Academy enter this meet as one of the favorites to win the title. They've had a solid season throughout and along with a district title and a top five finish at the early season Red White and Blue Invitational, they were crownded Tri-States Coaches Association champions, defeating a field of 60 plus teams, including some of AAA's best teams in Western PA. The team has a top seven with zero seniors but plenty of experience, including members of last season's outdoor state 4x800 meter relay champions.
But the last time they were at the Hershey course, they finished 2nd in the blue race to AA rivals Archbishop Wood. The district 12 champions return to Hershey looking to finally come away with a state championship after a couple of top ten finishes in AA and AAA, matching their best state finish in history last year (7th). They also won at Salesianum and finished in 3rd place in a big invitational in Rhode Island. Recently, they took the AAA District 12 champions to a tiebreaker in their league championship. The team is full of experience led by sisters Megan and Katie Connell, Kasey Brown and Casey Ortiz to accompany two freshmen and a sophomore. Their top five have finished within 1:10 of each other, the best of the top five ranked teams this season and may be the key to bringing home the title on Saturday.
Girls - Individuals
Elizabeth Chikotas of Saucon Valley and Alexis O'Shea of West Allegheny have the best performances in the AA division in 2013. Chikotas was 2nd (season best 18:03) at the PTXC 5 Invitational behind only Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic and finished ahead of accomplished runners such as Marissa Sheva of Pennridge, Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley and Regan Rome of Dallas. She also won the Colonial League and District 11 titles this season. O'Shea has run a more packed schedule, but has three victories and two runner up performances in her seven invitational appearances, including a personal best 18:05 at the Red White and Blue Invitational to finish 4th. Regan Rome of Dallas was 3rd at this meet a year ago and the Foot Locker Finalist will want to make the most of her last opportunity to win a gold medal and aim to score that one team point for the 2nd year in a row. She missed much of the season training with a shin-split, but returned to win District 2 last week. The 1-2 combination of Veronica Wheeler and Karli Visconto of Nazareth Academy have finished 1-2 in their past two competitions and their teamwork can be tough for anyone to overcome. Meg Connell of Archbishop Wood has top three finishes in her league and district championships and her experience will be a big boost for her having a successful race.
I. 1 Veronica Wheeler, Sr 19:04 6:09 Nazareth Academy
II. 1 Regan Rome, Sr 19:03 Dallas
III. 1 Salvo Miranda, Jr 9:17 19:15 6:12 Palmyra
IV. 1 Treicy Cedeno, So 19:08 6:10 Shikellamy
V. Competed in District 6
VI. 1 652 Hannah Dorian Westmont Hilltop 19:04.1
VII. 1 Alexis O'Shea, Jr 19:12 6:11 West Allegheny
VIII. No AA Teams
IX. 1 Boddorf, Juliann 12 Punxsutawney Area 20:19.30
X. 1 Lexi Bible, So 2:53 6:00 12:42 19:37 6:20 Hickory
XI. 1 Elizabeth Chikotas, Sr 5:44 18:26 5:57 Saucon Valley
XII. 1 Connelly, Kayla 9 Lansdale Catholic 19:15.90
455 2 Elizabeth Chikotas, Jr 5:41 11:57 19:08 6:10 Saucon Valley (11)
258 3 1 Regan Rome, Jr 5:32 11:47 19:14 6:12 Dallas (2)
390 8 Alexis O'Shea, So 5:39 12:10 19:37 6:20 West Allegheny (7)
276 9 5 Maria Tukis, So 5:45 12:17 19:40 6:20 Palmyra (3)
279 10 6 Miranda Salvo, So 5:51 12:24 19:43 6:21 Palmyra (3)
439 11 7 Colleen Daday, Fr 5:42 12:10 19:43 6:22 Allentown C C (11)
405 12 8 Bernadette Prichard, Fr 5:39 12:14 19:45 6:22 Villa Maria (10)
340 14 Treicy Cedeno, Fr 5:39 12:15 19:50 6:24 Shikellamy (4)
269 15 Kaitlyn Lewis, So 5:45 12:19 19:50 6:24 North Pocono (2)
303 16 Lillie Brown, Sr 5:50 12:28 19:51 6:24 Boiling Springs (3)
315 17 10 Mackenzie Jones, Fr 5:47 12:27 19:51 6:24 Danville (4)
261 18 11 Ally Rome, Fr 5:50 12:23 19:51 6:24 Dallas (2)
363 19 12 Julie Gerber, Jr 5:55 12:30 19:52 6:24 Uniontown Area (7)
306 21 Kayla White, So 6:04 12:39 19:55 6:25 Kennard Dale (3)
274 22 Maggie Toczko, Fr 5:52 12:23 19:57 6:26 Tunkhannock (2)
304 23 Kirsetn Lebo, Jr 5:52 12:28 19:57 6:26 Conrad Weiser (3)
431 25 13 Haley Yost, Jr 6:03 12:29 19:59 6:27 Northwestern Lehigh 1