Ones to Watch PIAA 3A: Rising Boys and Teams

Sophomore Jack Bertram finishes 13th at the 2021 PIAA 3A Championship

Boys Top 250 Returners in PIAA 3A.

It might be too early to pick favorites at the state level, but we want to give you the rundown of individuals/teams to keep an eye on heading into the early season. There is no doubt that many individuals and teams are worthy of this list, but we have picked a few that we would like to highlight.

Today, we released a list of our Boys Top 250 Returners to PIAA 3A. That list compared runners on the same course to give a more accurate objective ranking.

Ones to Watch:

Drew Griffith (Butler) and Matthew O'Brien (Susquehannock) are set to duel it out in 3A this year after Susquehannock was reclassified to 3A. 

Griffith enjoyed a breakout season in 2021 and finished runner-up at last year's 3A State Championship. He added a 9:04 3200m to finish fourth at the AAA State Outdoor Track and Field Championships and edged out O'Brien, who finished seventh.

O'Brien turned in a fourth-place showing at the 2021 PIAA 2A State Championship meet. He ran 16:08 at the Hershey Parkview Course and 15:48 earlier in the season at the Carlisle Invitational.

The two have never raced head-to-head during the cross-country season, so it will be riveting to see how they square up towards the end of the season. 

It would be best if you did not overlook Brian DiCola (Hatboro Horsham), who may enjoy another convincing season. DiCola may be the favorite by the season's midpoint, especially after he beat Griffith and O'Brien at the 3A State Outdoor Track and Field championship this May.

DiCola is coming off a season that saw him ranked first in the state in the 3000m, fourth in the Mile, and fourth in the 3200m. After winning the District 1 Championship in the Mile and 3200m, he placed third in the state 3200m championship.

Last year he ran 15:26 at the Paul Short Run.

Aidan Hodge (Hempfield (3)) returns with some of the quickest times in the field. His 15:16 5k personal best is the fastest returning time in the field. This spring, he added a 4:13 1600m and a 9:10 3200m.

With an eerily similar resume, Timothy Roden (Central Dauphin) enters the season as a speed specialist. Hodge and Roden finished 20th and 21st respectively at last year's state meet, but we expect them to move up the ranks with another year of experience under their belts. 

Roden has run as fast as 15:20 over the 5k distance and placed third in the 3A state championship this spring. He followed Gary Martin and CJ Singleton.

There are murmurings out of the west that Jake Borgesi out of South Fayette is ready to take a big step forward. He started to break out last fall but began to flourish during Indoor. During that Indoor season, he finished fifth in the Boys Mile at the PTFCA State Championship.

Outdoor, he found more success, running 9:07 over 3200m to place sixth in the 3A state championship race.

Andrew McGonigle (Owen J. Roberts), Patrick Lawson (Haverford), and Jordan Tiday (Cumberland Valley) are all expected to have strong seasons.

Teams to Watch:

The race for a 3A Boys Team Title is wide open.

In 2021 North Allegheny won their third 3A title in four years. The Tigers will be the most compelling team to watch early. The squad graduated four of their starting seven, so there will be a lot of eyeballs on them to see how well they reload.

The Tigers will be led by Jack Bertram, who finished 13th at the 2021 state meet, and junior Michael Gauntner, who finished 31st.

LaSalle College High School finished runner-up to North Allegheny last year. They relied on a 30-second 1-5 split to lower their score at the state championship. Like North Allegheny, they graduated several seniors, so the question mark remains... Who can reload the fastest?

Perhaps it's not a question of who can reload but of who can improve? Hempfield (3) finished in 10th last year. But led by Aidan Hodge and Joseph Fahrney, the squad returns six of seven. Furthermore, Hempfield returns the fastest cohort, with the top five all having run 16:32 or quicker over the 5k distance. They'll rely on that speed and a tight pack to push them towards success this fall.

Haverford had a strong season on the track. Their No. 1, Patrick Lawson, finished fourth in the state in the 1600m with his 4:11. Their now-number two joined him, as Quentin Ryan finished in 14th with a 4:17.

The team saw stride and growth in several areas this spring, and that success is expected to continue into the fall, making them a team to watch.

Teams like Lower Merion, Manheim Township, Cumberland Valley, Twin Valley, and North Penn represent question marks for us heading into the season. We are having a hard time figuring out who will be where when the season begins. That unknown has us on the edge of our seats heading into September.