Mock Team Scores
Welcome to the 2022 preview of the 2A Boys 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.
The Team Race -
Lewisburg Area will be looking to defend its title from the 2021 season. The team locked down the District 4 win last weekend with a 1-5 split of 1:18 and all seven runners finishing in the top 25. Brothers Jonathan Hess and Thomas Hess lead the way in third and fourth. The Lewisburg Area boys have had a lot of momentum this season as they continually finished as the top 2A team at competitive meets such as the Carlisle Invitational and Paul Short.
Another powerful team in contention is Grove City Area. After a dominant District 10 victory, where the 1-5 runners averaged 16:21 and only scored 29 points, it'd be nearly impossible to ignore this team. With four runners going 2-3-4-5 and the other three not far off, get ready to see a strong pack working together on Saturday. The Grove City Area squad also won the PIAA Foundation Invitational commandingly, when they averaged 17:17 on the challenging Hershey course.
Danville Area will undoubtedly be mixing things up in the team competition. With strong front runners in Rory Lieberman and Patrick Burgos leading the way, they are one athlete away from closing the gap on teams like Lewisburg and Grove City. Danville fell short of both teams earlier this season (Lewisburg at the District 4 Championship and Grove City at the PIAA Foundation Meet) but is more than capable of contending on Saturday.
Other teams to keep an eye on are Wyomissing Area, Holy Ghost Preparatory School, and Juniata.
The Individual Race -
Get your popcorn ready, as the battle for the individual title will be one to entertain.
As of now, Rory Lieberman (Danville Area) is looking unstoppable. From his 14:47.80 performance at Paul Short to winning the PIAA Foundation meet in a dominating fashion over a competitive field, Lieberman has the momentum every runner dreams of during his senior campaign. The University of Pennsylvania commit also won the District 4 title with a 45-second lead.
Lieberman breaks the course at Bloomsburg, readies himself for States
However, a plethora of other runners can't be ignored going into Saturday's championship.
Colin Whitaker (Lampeter Strasburg) was last year's 6th-place medalist. This year, he can improve upon that as he's been putting together a solid portfolio. The District 3 champion ran an impressive 15:04.30 back in September at the adidas XC Challenge and also took second this year at the PIAA Foundation Meet.
Colin Whitaker discusses his District 3 Championship and States
Watch out for Ryan Pajak (Ringgold), another returning state medalist. The junior is dialed in this season and he has significantly improved as the year progressed. Pajak opened his season with a 15:17.80 at the Mingo Scrimmage, and he then broke the 15-minute barrier at Paul Short, where he took 3rd in 14:58.40. Expect to see this District 7 champion battling with the front runners on Saturday, when he'll get a rematch with Lieberman.
Pajak defends his district title, ready to run hard in Hershey
Two more top 10 returners from last year are Logan Strawser (Juniata) and Luke Brown (Cathedral Prep). Strawser is the individual champion out of District 6 and another one of the impressive front runners at the Paul Short meet, where he took 4th in 15:00.40. Brown is the individual champion from District 10.
Strawser has been overshadowed by Lieberman and Pajak, but he was fourth at Paul Short. In fact 2A runners went 2-3-4. He only finished two seconds behind Pajak, and could be a sneaky pick to win the title on Saturday.
Other runners to keep an eye on are Thomas Hess (Lewisburg Area), Jack Becker (Lower Moreland), and Jonathan Hess (Lewisburg Area).