4x800 Meter Relay
This event has been dominated by the teams in District 1. They hold all of the top 8 spots in the division, and they ran the 7 fastest times during the district meets. Pennsbury has been the best team in the event from the middle of the winter to now. Led by 1:51 runner Alek Sauer, Pennsbury has run 7:43.50, good for US#2 this season. Central Bucks West has run US#10 7:45.72 to move up to PA#2. Abington has also run under 7:50 (7:49.17) and were silver medalists in this event 4 years ago. Pennridge was 5th a year ago ahead of 6th place Pennsbury, and will look to improve on their standing. Outside of District 1, Cedar Crest and Altoona have the best chance to break up the district's dominance. All 8 teams qualified from the district have a chance to make the finals.
The high hurdles could be the best race of the entire meet. No one stands out as a favorite, and the contenders are very close together. Kornelius Klah of Pennsbury has been on top of the state leaderboard since the 1st of the month, surpassing the likes of Charles Bowman Jr of Central Dauphin East, Ori Rinaman of Mars Area, Mason Weh and Akeim Thomas of Upper Darby, and Cordell Richardson of Cheltenham. All of these athletes have season bests between 14.27 and 14.40. Only Weh has made the medal stand in this event (6th in 2014) and with a teammate alongside him in Thomas and after a 1-2 finish at district 1, they would feel good about their chances. Rinaman has been the best hurdler out west, Bowman has been the best in the center of the state, and Klah and Richardson have been battling all season.
100 Meter Dash
2014 bronze medalist Christian Brissett of Cheltenham has been the best sprinter in the state since the beginning of the winter. But he will have his work cut out for him this weekend, as new stars has emerged to challenge the favorite. Brian Zimmerman of Mifflinburg has been on a tear this season in all sprint events. He has a season best of 10.63 and has come the closest of beating the state leader head to head. Pat Monahan of North Pocono (10.73) and freshman Julian Liaci of Nazareth Area (10.79) have broken 10.80 this season. Dan Chisena of Downingtown East came within an eyelash of beating Brissett at District 1. He's run 10.82 on the season. Brissett will have to be at his beat to fight off this crop of stars looking for their first big state moment.
1600 Meter Run
Before districts, the 1600 meter run was missing that big race. Some individual had run fast, but until Thursday, there wasn't a 'wow' factor in the event. Then 2014 bronze medalist Jeff Van Kooten of Pittsburgh Central Catholic blasted out a 4:10.72 to top the state lead and hold off Mike Kolor of Seneca Valley (4:11.21) at District 7. To repeat that feat, the two of them will have to shake off the defending champion Zach Brehm of Carlisle, the Hoey brothers Jaxson and Josh of Downingtown West along with teammate Ryan Barton. The top challengers have all run between 4:10 and 4:15, and it may take a meet record 4:07.32 to be crowned champion.
4x100 Meter Relay
Two time defending champions Gateway may be back, but they are not at the form that dazzled the crowd the past two years. On top of that, top ranked Cheltenham failed to get the stick around legally at District 1. So who will step up to take Gateway's place on top of the mountain? Upper Darby have been the closest to Cheltenham, running 41.79, but they finished behind the Downingtown Schools at Districts. Central Dauphin East has been the best sprint relay team in the center of the state and they have a top five time in the division behind the District 1 powerhouses (42.10). As proven at District 1, you have to get the stick around, and the team that can do that the best will win the title.
400 Meter Dash
Top of the state John Lewis has opted to run the 800 meter run. Peter Hughey of James Buchanan finished ahead of Lewis at this meet last year and was 3rd overall. This season, he has the 2nd best time in the division at 48.12. Charles Bowman Jr will step into the 400 with a 48.40 personal best and has run in the 48s twice this season. 5th place medalist Jeronimo Rodriguez of Lebanon has run 48.69 so far this season and has a great chance of breaking the top 5. District 1 champion Donovan St Louis of Upper Darby ran 48.38 for the win last week and will feel confident of securing a gold medal. Brian Zimmerman of Mifflinburg will be a wild card in this one.
300 Meter Hurdles
Dave Marrington of Neshaminy spent the season exchanging the state's top spot with John Lewis. With Lewis running the 800, the 2014 bronze medalist Marrington will be the favorite to bring home the title. Marrington has run 37.36 and has set the state lead in his last 3 appearances. Ori Rinaman of Mars has been the best out west, running 37.89 for the 3rd best mark in AAA. Andrew Dillon of Norristown (38.34) and Akeim Thomas of Upper Darby (38.42) have dipped under 38.50. Dillon has great speed while Thomas has great technique. Colyn Todd of Roman Catholic will be a sleeper in this event with his consistency in the mid 38 second range.
800 Meter Run
For anyone who got to see it, John Lewis of Cheltenham blazed a solo 1:49.15 to win the district 1 800 and move to US#2 for 2015. With the 4x8 and 4x1s of Cheltenham not making the state meet, he will be fresh for the 800 meter final on Saturday. The 1:49.31 meet record and the state all-time best 1:48.82 could both be broken by 2pm on Saturday afternoon. 5th place medalist Alek Sauer of Pennsbury, Elias Graca of Fox Chapel are a pair of sub 1:53 guys who can get to 1:50 or faster at states. Zach Brehm was the 2013 champion and was 4th a year ago and has run 1:53.64 this season along with teammate Matt Wisner. Dylan Eddinger of Boyertown has risen to the occasion of a big race, and the race won't get bigger than Saturday's final.
200 Meter Dash
Defending champion Christian Brissett of Cheltenham recently regained his top spot in the 200 meter dash away from Brian Zimmerman of Mifflinburg. Brissett did not win the district 1 race, as Dan Chisena of Downingtown East ran 21.66 to defeat him. Clarance Rowland of Boys Latin Charter (21.91) and Pat Monahan of North Pocono (21.96) have broken 22 seconds this season, and this group is ready to pounce on an opportunity if a vulnerable Brissett opens the door.
The race will feature two sub 9 minute performers, but even though 8th place medalist Matt McGoey of North Allegheny (8:56.43) and Jake Brophy of Central Bucks East (8:57.68) has achieved that feat, the chase pack is so talented and capable of taking them down. Kevin James ran 9:03.19 last year and finished 4th and the Cardinal O'Hara senior will be looking to earn that long awaited gold medal in his final opportunity to get one. Andrew Marston of Conestoga (9:01.25), Casey Comber of Hatboro Horsham (9:04.04), Sam Webb of Pennsbury (9:06.13), and Paul Power of Spring Ford (9:06.80) were all in the blazing Henderson 3200 meter race with Brophy and will be in the hunt in the rematch. Zach Brehm of Carlisle is looking to complete the rare feat of winning 800, 1600 and 3200 meter gold in separate years. The 8:56.29 meet record looks very vulnerable on Saturday.
4x400 Meter Relay
The one Cheltenham relay that did make it out of district 1 was the 4x4. They ran 3:15.39 in their 5th place finish at the Penn Relays Championship of America. They have been the best team in this event since Day 1, but anything is possible, and teams like 4th place Central Dauphin East (3:17.27), 5th place Upper Darby (3:17.34), and Abington (3:17.70) will be ready to pounce on any mistake made by the champions. Penn Wood sat on their heels all winter and have been getting close to that top form that got them to the runner up position last year.
Very little separates the high jump field this year, as we only have one 6-8 jumper this season and that mark belongs to 2104 8th place finisher Andrew Diehl of Conestoga. Both he and Qayyim Ali of Williamsport both cleared 6-7 at their respective district meets. Jay Whitfield of Coatesville will attempt to keep the high jump title in house. He's cleared 6-6 this season. A top 2 finish for him will be the 3rd for Coatesville in as many seasons. Alex McCord of Warwick, Anthony Cruz of East Stroudsburg North, and Troy Miller of Solanco are also 6-6 clearers.
Ryan Wilkes of Valley View has matched the all-time state record of 16-6 that was set at this meet 4 years ago. That was his first time clearing 16 feet. He is also the defending champion in this event. Last season's runner up Caleb Sanford of McDowell has cleared 15-3.50 this season for the 2nd best mark in the division. Easton Plummer of Mifflinburg is right behind him at 15-3, while the trio of Keith Steele of Northern, Hayden Fox of Hempfield (7), and Bobby Upton of North Allegheny sitting at 15 feet and all looking for their first medals in the event behind last season's top 2.
The top three in this event have had mixed fortunes this season. 2014 runner up Isaiah Brooks of Woodland Hills has been a monster during the season, but has stumbled at major competitions to reward all the hard work done in other meets. 7th place finisher Saahir Bethea of Cheltenham has battled injuries and inconsistency, but comes through in the big meets, winning indoor states and jumping a state leading 24-3 at District 1. Isa Paschall of Carlisle couldn't pop the big jump until the big meets and has a triple jump gold for his efforts from the winter. These three will battle one final time for the state's highest honor. Tyler Crum of Lehighton has a jump of 23 feet this season from late April and can find himself in the mix if he hits that mark again.
Deshawn Millington of Carlisle is back to defend his title. Him and teammate Isa Paschall are the only returning medalists in the event. The duo together can be tough for anyone to handle. Millington has jumped 48-11, while Paschall has jumped 47-5. Rayan Green of Jim Thorpe popped a big 47-9 to win District 11, while Jay Stocker of Coatesville did the same at District 1 with a 47-7.75. Brandon Stanback of Bishop McDevitt also has a 47-5 mark like Paschall. A 48 foot plus jump may be required to dethrone the champ.
This is the chance to watch the box office attraction known as Jordan Geist. The Knoch sophomore and 2014 bronze medalist has the 2nd best mark in the country at 69-1 and he has a chance to go for the meet record of 70 feet set ten years ago and the all-time record of 70-1.50. Lawson Monta of Greensburg Salem is the other returning medalist in the field (6th), while Milton Jones of Glen Mills is coming off a huge personal best throw of 57-3.50 and is in pole position for the silver medal.
Jordan Geist has improved in the discus in the past month of the season and was 5th in this event a year ago, but he is still a good distance away from Penn Relays silver medalist and 2014 state silver medalist David Lucas of Warwick. Lucas has a personal best of 199-7 from the Penn Relays and is over 20 feet better than silver medal favorite Geist (177-6). Lawson Monta is the other thrower over 170 feet (176-10).
With the shot put and the discus having heavy favorites, if close competition is what you seek, then the AAA boys javelin will have it. Six of the competitors have thrown between 200 and 206-9 this season. The top mark belongs to Drew Hess of Wilson (11). Derek Ziegenfuss of Parkland threw 204-3 back in the early part of the season and threw over 200 feet at District 11 for the first time since then. Evan Sing of Penncrest threw 202-4 before the Penn Relays, but hasn't hit 200 feet since. Mike Marsack of Stroudsburg (201-11), Grayson Hill of Cathedral Prep (200-3) and Skyler Mason of West Allegheny (200-1) make up the rest of 200 foot club.