Class A Boys Individuals Preview - PIAA State Championships
A number of boys will be vying for the top spot in the first boys race of the day at the state meet. It's going to be a can't-miss race, as a number of strong runners from different corners of the state have a legitimate shot at winning it all.
Thomas Smigo of Palisades was third at the state meet last year, and now the junior will look to move up to the top spot as the classification's top returner from a year ago. He dominated at the District 11 Championships and looks to be in a good spot to chase after his first state title on Saturday.
There are a host of boys who will give Smigo a good run up front, though. Eden Christian's Sean Aiken is riding a nice hot streak into Saturday. The junior was third in three straight big races before last week's WPIAL Championships, which he won. He's improved quite a bit from last year when he took 24th and should be a factor up front. Winchester Thurston's Lance Nicholls is another strong returner. He was ninth a year ago. He logged four wins on the season -- including one at Foundation on the Hershey course -- and was second to Aiken at WPIALs. He should mix it up with the leaders.
Jenkintown's Oliver Michell was 14th a year ago at the state meet. He'll enter Saturday coming off a runaway District 1 title. He's a two-time state medalist and he's experienced on the Hershey course, and he's a contender for the win, as well. So is District 2 champion Daniel Danilovitz of Riverside. 13th last year as a freshman, he went 16:46 to win his district meet last week, and has some terrific potential in this open field.
Coudersport's Kevin Sherry has claimed five wins already this year, and he'll have a chance to make it six on the season on Saturday. He's been very strong this year, most recently winning the District 9 crown, and he's emerged as a true contender in his sophomore season. His D9 counterpart Matt Woolcock should be a factor as well, on the heels of a 16th place finish at the state meet last year. Chestnut Ridge's Calan Bollman was 17th at states last year, just behind Woolcock. He won the LHAC and then the District 5 title, and should be a force near the front pack.
There will be a solid District 4 contingent on the line Saturday. It's led by Hughesville's Morgan Gavitt, who pulled away for the district title over second Zion Laudermilch of Wyalusing Valley and third place Hunter Foust, also from Hughesville. Foust was 18th last year, while Laudermilch was 19th and Gavitt was 33rd. Look for these three to battle it out, possibly for spots in the top five with a good day. Trinity's Jasper Burd ran to the District 3 win this past Saturday. He'll be hungry for a strong finish, as he's had a great senior season.
Lakeview's Colson Jenkins weathered the mud to win the District 10 title. He's been battle-tested this fall, and is another contender for a high finish this weekend. Others to keep an eye on in this race include Riverside's Ty Fluharty, Greensburg Central Catholic's Nick Szekely (22nd at states last year), Northwest Area's Oliver Heintzelman, York Catholic's Moseley Driscoll, Minersville's Landon Boyle, and Lehigh Valley Academy's Alexander Hume.