Cross Country season is once again upon us, and so it is time for the XC diehards at Milesplit to share with you our thoughts on the upcoming season. There are championships to defend and new champions to crown, and so what follows is our yearly attempt to inform you of those teams and individuals with the best chance of finishing atop the standings at the end of the season. Alas, this IS Cross Country, a sport in which anything can and will happen. It is also a sport in which a relative unknown can rise to the top in spectacular fashion, which is why we all love it. So read the previews, watch the races, and enjoy the pure beauty of the sport as the season unfolds.
AAA Boys Team
Upper Dublin is the AAA boys best shot at denying North Penn a 2nd straight XC title, and they have a talented group of runners that will be ready for the challenge. They have four returners from last year’s squad with individual favorite Mike Palmisano leading the way. Seniors Matthew Lorenzo, Paul Reilly, and Pat Reilly all return, bringing with them the experience of racing at states last year. North Penn returns 5 runners from last year’s championship team, led by junior Brad Miles. With a pool of talent waiting for their turn to prove themselves North Penn could find themselves challenging for a spot atop the podium for the second straight year.
Penncrest and Pennridge didn’t make states last year, but both have 4 returners under 16:40. Penncrest is led by Nick Bonaventure and Pennridge is led by James Faucette. Both squads look strong enough that if they qualify for states they could challenge for a top-5 spot. Council Rock North has 6 returners from last year led by two sub-16:00 runners in Dan Wallace and Mike Mahoney. Cardinal O’Hara returns 3 runners sub-16:40 from last year with Mike DeStefano at 16:00, and will make their PIAA debut as part of District 12 this year. North Hills returns 4, including three runners under 17:00 at states last year.
Parkland and Carlisle are this year’s dark horse teams. With great coaching and a determined squad of 4 returners from last year, led by Matt Gillette, Parkland has the ability of moving into the top-10, although they would like more. Carlisle returns 6, including their top-3 from last year, and could move up significantly as the program under new coach Ed Boardman continues to improve. This Carlisle squad is more focused and trained than ever and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the top-5 this year. Coatesville returns 3 runners under from last year and should be expected to be in the mix, led by senior Chris Rosato.
FEATURE: AAA Boys – Carlisle
FEATURE: AAA Boys – Upper Dublin
AAA Boys Individual
Perkiomen Valley senior Jimmy Tarsnane is the top-returner from last year with a 8th place finish. Jimmy ran a time of 9:15.03 for 3200 meters over the spring season, so his confidence should be high as he enters his junior year of XC in search of a state title.
Baldwin senior T.J.Hobart has posted great times throughout his high school career, but cross country success has thus far eluded him. This year, with a 4:12.09 1600 PR to his name, T.J. will have the confidence that he can hang with the distance aces and focus on a fast finish to chase his first XC title. Brad Miles, a North Penn junior, has run a 15:24 5k and should have a shot of finishing in the top-3 as he leads North Penn on another quest to stand atop the podium. With Upper Dublin also looking to win a state team title, senior Mike Palmisano will be aiming to finish as high as possible to help his team. With a 4:19.18 mile and 1:52.45 800 this spring Mike should feel confident in his kick as he enters the season.
Other top-10 hopefuls include Council Rock North’s Michael Mahoney(15:43.00 XC) and Dan Wallace(15:57.00 XC), Seneca Valley’s Cam Stauffer(16:13.00 XC), Holy Ghost Prep’s Mike Pierce(15:47.00 XC), West Chester Henderson’s Will Kellar(15:47.00 XC), Coatesville’s Chris Rosato(15:48.00 XC), Penncrest’s Nick Bonaventure(15:49.00 XC), and Central Bucks South’s Tom Mallon(15:57.00 XC, 1:52.35 800). With the Catholic League merging with the PIAA the key editions to this year’s individual race will be Mike DeStefano, Cardinal O’Hara (16:00 XC), John Pickhaver, Saint Joseph’s Prep (16:21 XC), and Pat Donnelly, LaSalle (16:24 XC).