In the sport of cross country, the WPIAL (or District 7, if you prefer) is one of the most balanced districts in the PIAA, with a near equal distribution of Class A, AA and AAA teams.
That balance in sheer numbers also proved to be a balance in power last fall as southwestern PA's best over hill and dale returned home with fistfuls of medals and five of the 12 team trophies awarded in Hershey, including four of the six given to boys' teams.
Could a trophy (and medal) haul similar to 2018 happen again on the first Saturday in November? The most recent MileSplit 50 rankings show at least one WPIAL team in the top three of each classification, but before that happens, teams and individuals must punch their ticket to Parkview at Thursday's district championships at California University of Pennsylvania.
Thursday's schedule has the girls' races first, with Class A at 12:45 p.m., AA at 1:30 and AAA at 2:15. The Class A boys will run at 3 p.m., with AA 45 minutes later and AAA wrapping things up at 4:30.
Both of the Class A races will advance the top four teams to Hershey, along with the top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team. Each of the AA and AAA races will send the three lowest scoring teams and top 15 non-team individuals to the PIAA meet.
The lone wild card for each of the races, particularly the final boys' 5Ks, will be the condition of the course. Mud and slippery conditions were mentioned by runners after last week's TSTCA championship on the same course. Today's showers are to give way to drying conditions through race time so the challenging layout will have a chance to firm up in advance of the six races.