Class A Girls Individual Preview - PIAA State Championships
There is a big list of contenders in Class A season on the individual side. Last year's champion Haley Hamilton has graduated. The top A time of the season belongs to Melissa Riggins, the multi-time state champion on the track, who went 18:13 in his first and only career XC race at the Red, White & Blue Classic in September. But the senior has decided to focus solely on soccer for the rest of this fall. She would have been the big favorite if she took a run at the trails.
Looking for redemption in this race is Lauren Shaffer of Portage Area. The junior was second in the state as a freshman in 2018, and then last year led through about the midway point before fading to 50th. She won her second straight District 6 title this past week, and also won at Altoona. She has the talent to go after the win on Saturday.
The contingent from western Pennsylvania, though, figures to be right up near the front. Let's start in District 10. Hannah Wagner from Reynolds ran to the district crown on Saturday in Titusville in 18:44, the fastest 5K time of all Class A qualifiers. 11th last year, Wagner looks to be even better this fall and should put herself right in the conversation. Mercer Area's Willow Myers was a solid second to Wagner in D10 and has emerged as a contender in her sophomore year. Then there's Wilmington's Grace Mason. She was second to Hamilton at states last year and has good experience at Hershey. She will aim to move up a spot and claim the title this time around.
WPIAL champion Carmen Medvit of Shenango is having a terrific season, and will be very motivated to make a run at the title on Saturday. After an unfortunate DNF at the D7 meet last year, she didn't qualify for the state meet. But the senior looks ready to roll with three big meet wins on the season and will look to close out her XC career on the highest of notes. Corinn Brewer of Greensburg Central Catholic was second to Medvit in the WPIAL. She was third last year at states, running her what was probably her best race of the season. She has the ability to hang up near the front.
Penns Valley's Kelsey Hull has had a great season, registering three second place finishes. She was second to Shaffer at Altoona and District 6, and second to Mason at Foundation. Could this be the week she bucks that trend and moves up to No. 1? District 3 champion Braetan Peters of Annville-Cleona was 12th at states, and has some good momentum coming off a god run at Big Spring this past week. Kathleen Simander of Saint Joseph's Catholic Academy was third in District 6 on Saturday and will look to spin that into a big state meet race.
Other top contenders include District 1 champion Emily Greenup of New Hope-Solebury, District 2 champion Lacey Danilovitz of Riverside, District 4 champion Kennedy Marsh of Montgomery, District 5 champion Ava Whysong, District 9 champion Jenna Gregory of Smethport, District 11 champion Samantha Masser of Tri-Valley, District 11 runner-up Natalie Mosier of Palmerton, and District 10 fourth place finisher Ashley Post of Seneca.
Elk Lake's Krista Jones (fourth), Mountain View's Kathryn Long (13th), Notre Dame-Green Pond's Grace Medei (17th), Jenkintown's Olivia Spoerl (19th), Montrose's Paige Brewer (21st), and Oswayo Valley's Cheyenne Mehl (22nd) are the 2019 state medalists back this fall in Class A that are worth keeping an eye on.
There are certainly some favorites to keep an eye on, but there could be plenty of surprises here. With limited races and invitationals in addition to a peculiar state meet race format, there's certainly room for something unexpected to come our way in the first races of the day.