PTXC's Takes from the conference meets

Boys AAA title chase is anybody’s to win

By this time of the season, most fans have a good idea on which 2 or 3 teams they think will win the state championships available. The AAA boys race may have 6 or 7 contenders instead of the traditional 2 or 3, as teams have struggled to emerge as a favorite to win the title, and with one meet left before states, it’ll take a big performance from a team to change that.

Conestoga has been the first name that comes to mind when fans think of title contenders. They have one of the favorites to score a top five finish in Andrew Marston. They had five break 16 minute for 3 miles at McQuaid in late September, which resulted in a 3rd place finish against two nationally ranked top ten teams. A blip at Manhattan followed, but a win at their league championship has them back on track. They’ll be the favorite entering the District 1 title race on Friday, but can they make a statement as the team to beat on November 1?

If they don’t, who else is there? Downingtown West edged champions West Chester Henderson by just 4 points at last week’s Ches-Mont title race, with Henderson representing four of the top nine finishers. An improvement from the number 5 position for Henderson makes that meet a different story. Winning the Ches-Mont league is still a big confidence booster for Downingtown West, and we will see what they do with that momentum on a fast course on Friday.

Easton has the individual favorite in Colin Abert and a 15:40 runner in the number 2 position. Having two runners earn low scores can have a big impact in the state final. Cumberland Valley have come on very strong in October, with a top two that can work together and team up against other team’s number 1 runners. North Allegheny can do the same thing, but the depth of the 2013 team is not on the 2014 squad, as the Tigers have not recorded a sub 60 second spread all season.

The fact that there isn’t a heavy favorite will make the end of this season one to remember. Each team will have to be at their best in these final two weeks to reach the promise land. We will all have fun watching them leave everything out on the course.


Will Pennsbury and Unionville girls find their best form in time?

We have reached the point in the season where we will now see what the top two teams on the girls’ side will finally meet head to head for 5000 meters in a race that means a lot to both teams. AAA champions Unionville and runners up Pennsbury will look for an edge over their opponents by winning Friday’s District 1 title race at Lehigh.

Pennsbury is coming off a perfect performance at the SOL National title race, taking the first 7 places with a 1:20 spread. Unionville repeated as Ches-Mont champions on a dreary Columbus Day, where all teams competing had difficulty making through a difficult day.

With both teams biding their time to get their 5000 meter season underway, and with both looking to find their best form, will they be able to find it in time before the big meets? Not only will they feel the pressure to do it, but waiting in the wings to snatch victory from the favorites is Cardinal O’Hara and their opposite approach.

The Delco and Catholic League champions have competed in an invitational race in each of the past seven weekends, winning five and finishing 2nd in two, losing by under 10 points in both competitions. Their team is very young, with no seniors in the top five, and their pack running has improved to an impressive 25 seconds from their last performance. They will be ready for any slip ups that take place.

Let’s all hope that all three teams are at their very best these next two weeks so that fans can potentially see the closest title race in recent memory. The whole story could change by this time next week, so let the fun begin!


Grove City trying to stay close to York Suburban

Ever since York Suburban’s PIAA Foundation Blue race victory over Grove City, York Suburban have not slowed down, finishing as the top PA team in each invitational meet since. Grove City have had to step up since they were unbeaten prior to that defeat and so far they have managed to keep themselves in the hunt for state glory.

While York Suburban was placing five runners in the top ten at the YAIAA Championships, Grove City came one place away from completing a perfect score at the Mercer County championships with a 35 second spread. The challenge for Grove City will be challenging the York Suburban front two of Brady Wilt and Donovan Mears, who can run low 16s together, making Aaron Benka’s work up front for Grove City very important to their title chances.

York Suburban will see the state course on Wednesday at the District 3 championships. They will look to snap a bad trend in the district, as most teams who do compete well at districts struggle ten days later at states. Can York Suburban snap the voodoo? Grove City will be ready to take advantage if they don’t.


Central Cambria girls got a big performance from their #5

The tale of the girls Class A season has seen some twists and turns. First, it was Elk Lake upsetting district rivals and state champions Holy Cross at PIAA Foundation. Next was Holy Cross getting revenge in a big way at Paul Short with a top ten finish in the Brown Race. Their next head to head match up will be on Wednesday at the District 2 championships.

Meanwhile, Central Cambria made their strongest statement of the season in the Class A title race, as they cruised to a comfortable win at the Laurel Highlands conference meet. Winning is nothing new for the Red Devils, as they have gone perfect for the season. What was new was the big improvement in their 1-5 spread.

Before Thursday, Central Cambria did not have a sub 20 minute #5 runner. Then on Thursday, number 5 runner, freshman Carly Kaschalk, ran a 70 second personal best to finish 8th at the league championship going from a 20:32 to a 19:22 in a six week period.

Now Central Cambria have a 5th runner that can accompany the excellent pack of four sophomores they have up front. Their spread in that race was 36 seconds, by far the best in the division in any race. With Elk Lake and Holy Cross having spreads of 1:45 and larger, Central Cambria’s pack running may be enough for them to become the new champions.

The two District 2 squads will certainly have something to say about that in these final two weeks, but it will be fun to watch three young teams go at it for this year’s state title and the opportunity to start a dynasty in future seasons.