Girls' Gold (AAA) Race Preview - PIAA Foundation Invitational
Race Time: 10:30 A.M.
Last year's Gold Race at Foundation featured each of the top eight ranked girls' squads in the state (per our rankings). It's not quite like that this year, but it's pretty close. Four of the top five girls teams will clash on Saturday, which will tell us quite a bit about where these teams stack up right now.
PA#1 North Allegheny enters as the favorite after a big team effort at Red, White & Blue a few weeks ago. NA took third against some of Ohio's best at Boardman last week. Hannah Lindgren is a strong No. 1 and Keeley Misutka and Caroline Daggett have proven to be a solid 2-3 for the Tigers. They defeated PA#3 Fox Chapel Area at RWB. FCA won the state title last season after taking second at Foundation last year. Sarena Seeger and Grace Sisson led this team to a second place finish at RWB.
Central Bucks West (PA#2) will be in the mix for the team win. After a second place finish to Loudoun Valley (VA) at PTXC 10, West looks very strong coming into the weekend. Julia Flood and Piper Wilson are a strong top two that will look to pace this squad past western PA's best. Meanwhile, State College Area (PA#5) comes in with two invite wins to their name on the season. After a Big Valley victory, SC beat West Virginia power University High at Penn State. This is a deep and talented team, led by Kileigh Kane and Jordan Reed, ready to roll against a deep field.
Strath Haven won its opener in Maryland, and on Saturday, we'll see how this team stacks up against PA's top squads. Owen J. Roberts, Seneca Valley, Central Bucks East, and Woodgrove (VA) are among the other top teams in the field.
The individual field looks to be wide open with no clear-cut favorite, but many contenders. The most interesting name in the field is Strath Haven's Grace Forbes (PA#11). The junior placed second in her XC career debut in MD a few weeks ago. Now she'll hope to conquer Hershey on her first try. Seeger from Fox Chapel (PA#10) will be in the mix, as well, after taking second at RWB. Lindgren of NA (PA#12) and Sisson from Fox Chapel were also inside the top five there. Another interesting girls to watch for is Mia Cochran of Moon Area, who dropped a surprise 18:58 in the freshmen race at RWB.
Flood, Wilson, and Emmi Simon, all from CB West should post lowsticks around the top 10. State College's Kane (PA#17) was 12th at states last year and should factor in near the front on Saturday. Pine Grove Area's Christina DiFalco will be attempting a rare double on Saturday. The senior will be racing in her home invite at Pine Grove in the morning and then the plan is for her to come back and race her second race of the day in the Gold Race.