D1-AAA Boys - Team & Individuals Breakdown
- Preseason Rankings: Team | Individual
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 6
- State Qualifying Spots For Non-Team Individuals: 30
- 2018 Individual Champion: Cole Walker (Unionville) - 15:34
- 2018 Team Champion: Downingtown West - 71 points
The front pack at the crowded District 1 Class AAA race is usually filled with senior boys. That wasn't the case last season, though, as nine of the top 13 finishers were non-seniors. That means that 2019 will be a very competitive -- and very fast -- race.
The defending champion, Cole Walker of Unionville, is back to defend his title. He went 15:34 on Lehigh's course to kick to the victory last season. He placed 11th at states, and will be looking for a repeat effort this season, and he'll be in the mix for the state title in AAA.
Boyertown's Christian McComb, North Penn's Noah Demis, and Unionville's Ethan McIntyre are also back from the top five in the district from last season. Each had very strong seasons last year, but none of them got medals at the state meet. Expect that to change this season. McIntyre was the closest of that trio to the top 25, taking 29th, and he'll look to bridge the gap up to his team's leader Walker.
Haverford Township's Mike Donnelly is the only other D1 returner besides Walker to have grabbed a medal last fall at states. He took seventh at districts and then took 15th at states. Donnelly will certainly be one to watch in his senior season to improve upon those finishes.
D1 is packed with a number of others who could make that push into "elite" status. Perkiomen Valley's Tyler Clifford, Downingtown West's Aiden Barnhill, Lower Merion's Joey Litvin, Penncrest's Patrick Theveny, and North Penn's Samir Razi make up that group. Each of these boys have the potential to move up into the top ten of the state with a strong season. West Chester East's Joshua Lewin, a 4:15 miler, should be in the mix, and his closing speed makes him dangerous.
As always, plenty of boys will make some noise and run some quick times from District 1 Class AAA. It will be an interesting season. With so many talented returners back in the fold, these boys will push each other throughout the season leading up to districts and states.
Downingtown West has long proven throughout this decade to be the state's most consistently strong boys squad. It's no surprise that the Whippets will be strong again in 2019. D-West has won the last two D1-AAA team titles and three of the last four (it was second in 2016, the year it didn't win). The team has also been third at states each of the last three years since winning the AAA state title in 2015.
Now Downingtown West will have another shot to return to the top of the state this fall. They graduate four of its varsity boys from last year's state team, but they have a great pool of talent at the JV level to turn to to make an impact. Barnhill is a strong runner, while Ben Datte (the highest placed returning Whippet from states last year), and Holden Betz will also be solid. Declan Rymer is one to watch on this team; he ran 9:30 for 3200 meters this past spring and could very well lead this team this fall.
A few teams will look to have a crack at stopping D-West's bid for three straight district titles. West Chester Henderson (eighth at districts last year) has missed states each of the last two years after making it ten straight years before that. Not only should the Warriors return to Hershey this season, but it will be a contender for a high states finish and maybe more. Five varsity boys are back and Henderson has a deep group of JV runners from last year that should make an impact. Gavin Brophy, a freshman, led the way last year for Henderson, so look for him to be even better this fall.
Penncrest will be strong, too. The Lions were ninth at districts last season, but return all seven varsity boys this season, led by the strong Theveny. Penncrest will be hungry to get to Hershey and place high. Unionville will also be in the mix after a big 2018, which saw it place second in the district and sixth at states. Walker and McIntyre are as good a 1-2 punch as you'll see in PA. U'Ville will look to add some depth with the team losing a pair of top 20 district finishers from last year, but expect them to contend.
Council Rock South loses its top two from last year's team that was third in the district and seventh in the state. But the Hawks have some strong returning talent. It may lack a frontrunner, but it will make up for it with depth and should make a run at the state meet again.
After that, there's a big bunch of teams that will be making a run for the top six and the state meet. Among the Hershey hopefuls is North Penn, with a strong top two of Demis and Razi. Oxford Area, Owen J. Roberts, Lower Merion, and Wissahickon also has the talent to go after states qualification.
It's relatively wide open in spots four through about 15 or so in D1-AAA, so that means it will come down to depth and finding boys to improve in big ways. That will be the difference maker in what will be another great year in D1.