The boys white race is shaping up to be a good one, as Class A teams who have had solid starts to the season look to make a big splash. Masterman enter this race as the defending champions. But the Class A runner ups know that victory here doesn’t guarantee victory in November, as the team they beat at this meet came back to beat them at states. Julian DeGroot-Lutzner will lead the way for the District 12 champions. He will be hoping to earn his 3rd win in as many weeks. He will be challenged by Colten Tremble of South Side and Nick Sweet of Sayre for the individual gold.
Avonworth earned a big win at Slippery Rock last week and are looking to build on that momentum of taking down one of the hot teams in the division, Our Lady of Sacred Heart. Penns Valley have one 2nd and one 3rd place finish so far this season, but they will bring on a top three that can put them in the mix at this meet, with the three of them all breaking 18 minutes this season.
In the blue race, Dominic Hockenbury of Lake Lehman is back after taking last weekend off to rest. The junior will be looking for his 2nd win of the season. He has broken 16 minutes in both of his appearances, with his latest 15:58 earning him a runner up finish at PTXC 6. As the favorite in AA for the state crown, a good race could set him apart from the rest. Aaron Benka of Grove City and Noah Smith of Ringgold will challenge Hockenbury and look to stay strong after their own successful starts of the season.
Benka’s Grove City squad were excellent in their lone invitational appearance, which was a victory at Red White and Blue. They placed five in the top 15 in the AA division on that day. Another strong performance like that will make them tough to beat. Bishop Shanahan is coming off of a win at Rose Tree Park and have quickly put themselves in the conversation for District 1 AA glory. Seamus Breslin will lead the team in green. Mount Carmel finished in the top 7 at Desales last week, with Holy Ghost Prep the only AA squad to beat them. A solid top two finished in the top 20 in that race and they will look to duplicate that success on Saturday.
The Gold race will be the highly anticipated matchup between North Allegheny and Cardinal O’Hara. Both teams are coming off tough races last week, so a win would be a big boost going forward. North Allegheny’s 1-2 punch of Matt McGoey and Hunter Wharrey have not finished worse than 3rd in any race so far. If the rest of the squad closes the gap on those two, they will be tough to beat.
O’Hara has had great success at this meet and will be looking for more of the same after a runner up finish at Briarwood. Kevin James will challenge up front with McGoey and Wharrey, while Jake Brophy of Central Bucks East will also duke it out with the black and gold combo. State College and Mount Lebanon will look to make a name for themselves against two of PA’s biggest teams. Maryland AAA Champions Severna Park returns to PA after winning PTXC 6 two weeks ago.
The white race will have a great matchup at the top with Class A state champion Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian Academy dueling with Mackenzie Greenfield and Lexi Walsh of Class A team champions Holy Cross. Abdalah was victorious at Slippery Rock last weekend, while Greenfield was a big winner at Northampton two weeks ago, and her teammate Walsh was under 19 minutes. A win for any of these competitors will be a huge boost to their championship aspirations. Greenfield’s Holy Cross team were very impressive in their victory at Northampton. The champions are the only team in Class A with two sub 19 minute runners. Penns Valley could have a top three can mix it up with Holy Cross, with Alyssa Limbaugh leading the way.
In the blue race, Villa Maria Academy could send a big statement to the rest of the division with a victory on Saturday. The District 10 champions have been solid in the early going, finishing 2nd overall at Red White and Blue and Slippery Rock behind only Mount Lebanon. The core of Claire Brown and Grace Trucilla have been boosted by newcomer Hannah Ricci. Northwestern Lehigh have been impressive on the other side of the state, recently finishing 2nd at the Centaur Invitational behind Parkland. They have a 42 second spread with all five breaking 21 minutes this season.
The individual race for gold should be a close one. Hannah Ricci of Villa Maria Academy has been one of the top freshmen this season, helping teammate Claire Brown at the front of races. Claudia and Gabrielle Sacks of Allentown Central Catholic are the latest 1-2 punch looking to make a splash. Jenna Farmer of Lewisburg will also be in the mix.
GOLD RACE PREVIEW BY BILL COREN
TEAMS---There are 7 Teams that could be up there at the always tough “STATES” course. The favorites are in alphabetical order--CARDINAL OHARA, CENTRAL BUCKS EAST, GREAT VALLEY, MOUNT LEBANON, NORTH ALLEGHENY, SENECA VALLEY, and STRATH HAVEN. Here are those 7 teams Invitational results so far this season with last year’s finish here as well.
OH(7th 2013)---1st Briarwood Champs
CBE---1st Sharp--1st CBE--3rd Briarwood Champs
GV---2nd Briarwood Champs
MT LEB(2nd 2013)---1st Red,White, Blue--1st Cal.U of P
NALL(4th 2013)---2nd Red,White, Blue
SENV---3rd Red,White, Blue
SH(3rd 2013)---1st Abington--1st Bulldog Small
Even though SH is projected first by the Virtual Meets Rankings, this is based on their fast times at Bulldog. They are a strong team, but it would be a major upset if they actually won this race, especially with their 5th runner pretty far back. SENV is also a long shot. They have a runner who should be Top 10, but the other Top teams appear to be slightly stronger than them. NALL may have the individual race winner, and that 1 point really helps your team score especially in a large, talented field. NALL also is fairly deep, but still look like they are not as strong as the top 4. OH, CBE, GV, and MT LEB appear to be the class of the field!!! All 4 teams have both strong fifths and sixths as well as runners near the front. CBE got out of the gate fast, but stumbled at Briarwood. After a league meet against rival CBW on Weds.,they should be pumped up to climb poop-out hill. GV ran well at Briarwood and their pack is tight. They have experience and veteran girls who have run this course well. MT LEB is unbeaten this year and could start out with as little as 2 points for their #1. Runner-ups last year, they have a strong chance to bring home the gold from the GOLD race. My prediction for the winner will be OH. With 2 freshmen, 2 sophs, and a strong, confident junior they may shortly be able to challenge the UNV and PENNS teams!!!! Their race at Briarwood proved they are the real deal. By the way the freshmen are twins and they are the sister of the junior. This race will be a GREAT one----30 teams and plenty of good runners on a CHALLENGING course!!
INDIVIDUALS-----There are 3 young ladies who could be way out front of the field---Potts(MT LEB (2nd 2013)--Sheva(PENNR)(3rd 2013)--and Davison(NALL)(4th 2013). Potts was 2nd at Red,White, Blue and is very tough! Sheva is undefeated this year, winning at Sharp and PTX6. When she is healthy, she is outstanding. Also, her kick is the best in the field--if she is close her speed will win out. However, the favorite appears to be Davison. 1st at Red, White, Blue with a 17:35!!!! Enough said!! Can she break 18:00 at the Hershey course? We’ll see?????