Boys Preview - PIAA District 1 Championships
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 1
It's going to be another Jenkintown show in the D1-A race. Last year, the Drakes scored the minimum 15 points before going on to run away with the state title. Despite the loss of graduated talent, Jenkintown is strong once again and should easily take the district title and compete for a high finish at states.
Luke Miller, the younger brother of last year's 1A state champ Jack Miller, is the one to beat from the Drakes. He has a few wins on the season and a 16:01 from Paul Short. Sub-16 could be on the mind of the BAL champ. Aiden Michell, Oliver Michell (just a freshman), and Carter Geer make up some of the depth that this squad brings to the postseason.
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 1
It will be a close race for the win in the D1-AA race. The race could come down to Pottsgrove's Brandon Henriksen and New Hope Solebury's Owen Nettles. The pair haven't raced yet this season, so it will be an interesting battle up front on Friday. Both were the top AA finishers at their respective conference meets last week.
PJP's Jack Brosius is the top returner from a year ago -- he was second in 2019 -- and he cannot be counted out here. Lower Moreland's tight pack, which was paced by Justin Sandler at BALs, should get in the mix near the front, as well.
The team race should get interesting with just one state spot up for grabs. Lower Moreland may be the team to beat here. They were third in the BAL and had just a 24-second 1-5 gap at that meet last week. Look for that pack to work together in a small field.
Pottsgrove was top AA team at the PAC Championships. They have a lowstick and will look for its backend of varsity to get them in contention with LM. Pope John Paul II comes in as the defending champs. They will look for a big day at Lehigh to have a shot at making a run at the title again. New Hope-Solebury was fourth in the BAL. The Lions could be in the mix as well with a strong race.
- State Qualifying Spots For Teams: 6
Unionville's Cole Walker will look to repeat as District 1 champion. The senior won it last year with a strong kick as a junior. Now a senior, Walker is in the midst of a huge season that included wins at Carlisle and mot recently a dominating Ches Mont performance. He'll be tough to beat, but he'll surely have challengers.
Downingtown West's Aiden Barnhill was a close second to Walker at Carlisle. He was the top PA boy at Manhattan (ninth) and has become the next top dog in a long line of D-West talent. He could make a run at the win. Garnet Valley's Sean Garrett has had a breakthrough month of October that included a 15:23 (the fastest time of any D1 runner) at Paul Short and a Central League win. He'll be a major factor. Walker's teammate Ethan McIntyre (second at Ches Monts) is also having a strong season and would love to make it a 1-2 U'Ville finish at Lehigh.
After that, there is no shortage of depth. PAC champion Tyler Clifford of Perkiomen Valley should be in the mix near the front. Boyertown's Christian McComb was third in the district last year as a junior and had a nice confidence-boosting PAC race that could be him in contention. Haverford's Mike Donnelly was 15th at states last year and will be battling it out near the front.
Look for the likes of Pennridge's Diego Lera-Lozano, Penncrest's duo of Patrick Theveny and Jalen Chin, Lower Merion's Joey Litvin, Harriton's Sam Kartsonis, Hatboro's Devon Comber, Oxford Area's Bruce Trimmer, Council Rock North's Pat Bierach, West Chester East's Joshua Lewin, OJR's Thomas Damiani and Andrew McGonigle, and Downingtown West's solid group of Declan Rymer, Ben Datte, and Holden Betz to be right up there in what should be a massive pack of quick runners at the mile mark.
In the team race, Downingtown West, the PA No. 2 squad, will be the big favorite to take the win its third straight District 1 title and fourth in the last five years. It's hard to imagine anyone coming close to the Whippets on Friday. D-West has the frontrunner in Barnhill and some terrific depth after him, with a number of boys that will be around the top 20.
But there are five other state spots on the line. Who's ready to snag a spot in Hershey?
Owen J. Roberts (PA No. 6) scored 48 to win the PAC title last week. With a 36-second spread, OJR is a deep squad with big potential to make a big splash over the next few weeks.
Penncrest (PA No. 8) won the Central League title in a close one. This senior-heavy squad is a team to keep an eye on. Haverford Township was second to Penncrest in the Central League and looks to be coming together at the right time. Lower Merion, which made a big statement in September winning at Foundation, will also be in the hunt for a top six spot and a trip back to Hershey. The Aces were third in that Central League title race.
While D-West didn't race at Ches Monts, Unionville (PA No. 10) seized the opportunity and ran to the win. This team has as good a top two as you'll find and will rely on an improving 3-4-5 to get in the top six of the team standings on Friday. Downingtown East has had a strong season, too. The Ches Mont runners-up are firmly on the bubble and will look for a big day at Lehigh. West Chester Henderson (third at Ches Monts) has missed states each of the last two years after a long-running streak of state meet appearances before that. The Warriors have depth this year, and always have the peaking ability to make a run at state qualification.
Hatboro-Horsham, Council Rock South, and North Penn were SOL conference champs last week at Lehigh. They return to the course this Friday with state aspirations. Hatboro and South both have good depth and solid 1-5 spreads. If North Penn gets Noah Demis back, who was fourth in the district last year, it could get a big boost. Perkiomen Valley, Central Bucks East, Conestoga, and Great Valley could surprise with big days.