Class A Boys Teams Preview - PIAA State Championships
Winchester Thurston will look to win the program's third state title of the decade and return to the top of the podium for the first time since its dominant 2016 run at Hershey.
The Bears look to have the pieces to do so and enter the weekend as the team to beat in Class A. WT rolled the WPIAL team title, scoring just 37 points and putting its top five in the top 15. Last year, the Bears took second to an historically strong Jenkintown team. This season, WT has returned its top five from that squad and each member seems to have gotten stronger. Routledge is the leader, but Thurston will have a shot to put four others on the medal stand, similar to what Jenkintown did last season.
Thurston won at Foundation and seems like its in a good spot to claim another Hershey victory on the season.
Some teams could make a run at them, though. The aforementioned Jenkintown still has plenty of firepower back from last year's title team, including three returning medalists. Miller has stepped into the leader's role while Aiden Michell and freshman Oliver Michell have made for a strong pair. The Drakes, which dominated at District 1 were third at Foundation and have a strong core to make a run at a high finish and maybe even the win with a big day.
Wyalusing Valley Area was second to Winchester Thurston at Foundation, just 13 points back of the Bears. Patton and Laudermilch are a terrific 1-2 for the Rams, which took the win in District 4 last week. Depth could be an issue for this squad, but Justin Hiduk, the team's No. 5 at Foundation who hasn't raced yet in October, is among the entries. If he toes the line and is in good shape, that could make Wyalusing an even more dangerous squad.
WPIAL runners-up Riverview are a strong team that should push for a high placing. They were second to Thurston in District 7 and have some solid depth led by Ochs, a top five individual contender. Penns Valley Area, the 2017 state champs that took fourth last season, are also running strong at the right time. PV has the ultimate 1-2 punch in Sands and Colwell and has seen its 3-4-5 developing well as the season has progressed. This team is a legitimate contender.
Cochranton and Cambridge Springs make up a strong District 10 pair that should put up some lower scores. Cochranton won the district by five points over Cambridge Springs, but both qualified for Hershey. Those two teams have completely different makeups (Cochranton has the lower sticks, while Cambridge Springs had a 55-second gap at D10), but both will make a good run in this field. Holy Cross is another team with a good top two in Healey and Jumper. The District 2 champs will look for a big day from the backend of its varsity squad to get in the hunt for a top five finish.
Cranberry was impressive against a solid District 9 field, winning the district by 35 points last week. Look for this team to compete well against the rest of Class A's best. District 6 runners-up Saint Joseph's Catholic Academy were the top Class A team at mid-October's TSTCA meet and should perform well, too, on Saturday.
Winchester Thurston will have the target on its back coming into Saturday. It will take the other squad's best shot at the Bears to score the upset.