PIAA Championship Preview: Class AAA Girls

Mock Team Scores

Welcome to the 2022 preview of the 3A Girls PIAA XC State Championship meet.

Throughout the week, we'll be providing full previews of each race and Team Mock Scores to follow them. We are also incorporating PA MileSplit predictions, which are completely opinionated. 

2021 Recap:

"For a third straight year, Mia Cochran won a state championship in cross country. The Arkansas commit rolled to the win, running 18:08. North Allegheny made history becoming the first AAA girls team to win four straight cross country state titles. The Tigers were dominant in their title defense, scoring just 62 points for an 87-point victory." - Dan Beck 

The road to the State Championship runs through North Allegheny. Undefeated versus Pennsylvania teams this year, North Allegheny looks to set history yet again. In 2021, they became the first girls team in state history to win four straight titles.

North Allegheny lengthened their District win streak to five straight years last week, rejoining MileSplit 50's Top-25. The No. 25 Tigers have sat atop Pennsylvania's rankings all year.

At WPIALs, they won with a 19:15 average, 68 points ahead of Mount Lebanon in second.

But if there is room for an upset, there are three teams that can make it happen: Owen J Roberts, Emmaus, and State College.

Owen J Roberts has experienced unprecedented growth in 2022. In 2021, their 1-5 average at the District 1 Championships was 19:41... this year, it was 18:55. The name of their game has been development. We thought we saw them in prime shape when they won at Paul Short with a 19:03 average, but they took another step this week, winning the district title. 

If they manage another tight compression, they have a long shot.

Emmaus took second to OJR, but that was the only blemish on an otherwise remarkable season. When you account that they only lost by three seconds, you can easily factor Emmaus as a State Contender.

The Emmaus girls are riding a multi-race win streak and have a crew of front-runners who will be in contention for state medals. Hailey Reinhard and Madelyn McCartney headline their group, but Payton Campbell and Addison Johnson are also young talents capable of running with the front two.

In late September, we saw State College Area race against North Allegheny and OJR at PIAA Foundation. They finished second to NA and ahead of OJR. Since then, they've won both the Mid Penn Championships and the District 6 Championships. They have rounded into championship form and are a much more lethal squad than the one we saw in September.

The emergence of Natalie Koncoski, who ran a personal best 19:23 this weekend, and Grace Morningstar, means that their seven starters have all run sub-19. That type of depth matches what North Allegheny has to offer. They also offer a similar 1-5 average (based on season-best 5Ks). We could be in for a surprise.

Mount Lebanon, Phoenixville, and Perkiomen Valley will also mix things up.


The Individual Race - 

You could pull any one of a dozen names out of a hat, and they might be your winner on Saturday.

Logan St. John Kletter (Mount Lebanon) has to be on your list of contenders. After suffering an injury last spring, she has bounced back better than ever. She is currently on a four-race win streak, including marquee wins at the Legends Meet (OH) and District 7 Championship. She ran a personal best of 17:29 this year and currently holds the PA #1 time. She has only lost once since September 11th and has only improved over the season.

Kletter runs a course personal best, wins District 7

But that one girl that beat her was Natalie McLean. The Pine-Richland senior has gone 1-2 with Kletter on several occasions, with the two usually finishing within seconds of each other. Kletter has gotten the better of McLean on the two most recent occasions. Still, McLean earned a significant victory at the PIAA Foundation Invitational, the same course they'll run this weekend.

McLean waited before pouncing on Kletter in the closing mile to pick up the victory. Will we see something similar this week?

Not if Olivia Cieslak (Haverford Township) had anything to say about it. Cieslak has enjoyed an outrageously stout season in 2022. She was undefeated until this past week when she finished second at the District 1 Championship. But that Lehigh course is very different than Hershey, and she was best on the hills. 

Cieslak is a tough competitor and has thrived through multiple race strategies. She knows how to win from the front and the back. We're excited to see what she can do in her return to the Hershey course.

Ella Woehlcke (Mount Saint Joseph) beat Cieslak at the District 1 Championship. She is notorious for her knack for running from the front, but that bit her a little bit the last time she raced at Hershey. We're excited to see how she refines her race strategy this go-around. If she's in it at the end, she is dangerous, as she just outkicked a pack of four girls, including Cieslak, who is a 2:10 800-meter runner.

Woehlcke after winning the D1 Title

Ellie Keefer (West Chester Rustin) was in it with Cieslak and Woehlcke. Don't count her or Claire Zubey (OJR) out of it. They are some of the best runners from District 1. 

Kailey Granger (Dallastown) and Claire Paci (Greencastle Antrim) are rounding into form out of District 3. Either could be in the mix for the state title as well.

Kailey Granger discusses Dallastown 1-3 and her emergence.