Boys Preview - PIAA District 9 Championships
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 2
Expect a terrific team and individual battle in D9-AA. Let's start with the team battle where four teams have a very good shot at just two state qualifying spots. Getting out of District 9 could mean a top five (or better) states finish this year, so the stakes are incredibly high.
At the Ridgway Invite in early October on the district course, Smethport Area edged out Elk County Catholic by just 4 points. Cranberry was third and Clarion Area was fourth, but not many points separated these squads. Frankly, this one is too close to call. This race will likely come down to depth.
Now onto the individual battle. Ben Hoffman of ECC is the reigning district champion. He also won the Ridgway (Pre-D9) Invite earlier this month. That will bode well, but he'll be challenged for sure. The Smethport Area duo of Christian Tanner and Darion Gregory will likely be knocking on his doorstep. KSAC champion Nathaniel Lerch of Clarion and KSAC runner-up freshman Matt Woolcock will also be in contention.
ECC's Isaac Wortman, Cranberry's Daniel Fisher, and Brookville Area's Ethan Brentham are among the other individual contenders in this very deep district -- likely the best 1A district in PA.
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 1
Bradford Area will look for another D9-AA team title this season. Led by Tyler Kraft has a strong squad certainly capable of earning a return trip to Hershey. The likes of Punxsutawney Area and DuBois Area should offer a strong challenge for the lone states spot.
Bradford was the top D9-AA squad at Ridgway, but Punxsy was without Owen Bartlebaugh, one of its top runners, that day. DuBois has posted some strong performances this season and could mix it up.
Individually, the battle will come down to Kraft (the top D9-AA finisher at Ridgway), Bartlebaugh, and McKellen Jaramillo of DuBois. Those are the three boys in the district that have run under 18 minutes this season.