PIAA Preview: Boys' Distance

Championship season is upon us. The PIAA state championship is this weekend and we're rolling out previews for all of the hotly contested jumps, throws, and races.

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AA Boys 800m

Amberson Bauer (Riverview) has been building the puzzle of a champion. The only piece missing is a state title.

After finishing 3rd in last year's stacked outdoor state championship 800 field, Bauer proved to be a tactical championship racer. He confirmed this claim when he followed up this past indoor season as the top 2A finisher at the indoor state championship. Bauer also has top-end speed, entering the state championship with the fastest time by over two seconds thanks to his 1:53.22 performance he ran at the Butler Invitational.

Thomas Smigo (Palisades), Gabriel Cuffey (Archbishop Carroll), and Zane Cassel (Greenwood) are all sure contenders for top three finishes. Smigo and Cuffey have closing speed over the last 400 that could make the difference in a tactical race. Regarding Cassel, he is peaking at the right time after an excellent PR to win a District 3 title last weekend.

AA Boys 1600

Four boys under 4:20 will make for a highly anticipated bout.

We could see a District 4 rematch between Logan Strawser (East Juniata) and Rory Lieberman (Danville Area). Strawser is the overall favorite after beating Lieberman for the District 4 title. The East Juniata Senior also ran 4:15.33 Sterling Hoffman Invitational, posting the fastest 2A time this season. However, Lieberman is pretty close with a 4:16.53 season best and will undoubtedly look to even the 1600 score.

Thomas Smigo (Palisades), just like in the 800, will certainly be able to play the sit and kick card thanks to his impressive closing speed. Smigo's range from the 400m dash to the 3200m run will undoubtedly play to his advantage in a championship race setting.

Tyler Rader (Huntingdon Area) is another one of those guys hitting his season peak at the perfect time. Rader appeared on the potential champion radar after winning the District 6 title in 4:17.21 last weekend.  

AA Boys 3200

Are Rory Lieberman and Logan Strawser facing off in another race? We're getting spoiled this year with exciting matchups.

Lieberman is the big favorite this go around after clocking a 9:11.68 earlier this season and beating Strawser at the District 4 championship. We should also note that Lieberman has a lot of experience at this distance. He ran 9:02.88 last year in the 3A state championship finishing 2nd and won this year's 3000m run at the Penn Relays.

Strawser won't go down without a fight, though, as he remained in contact with Lieberman at the District 4 Championship finishing in 9:15.84. Strawser is also last year's 2A runner-up in the 3200m, where he ran 9:14.62.

Michael Braun (Freeport Area), Jaxon Schoedel (Mohawk), and Dominic Flitcraft (Hopewell) are among other notable entries.

AA Boys 4x800

Last year's runner-up team, Williamson, has become 2023's favorite.

Williamson won the District 4 title running 8:02.7, giving them a five-second cushion for the top-ranked time from this season. Returning all four legs from the 2022 season is a key to their success.

Hughesville will be looking to defend their title from last year though they may face difficulty since three of their four legs graduated in 2022.

Greenwood and Quaker Valley are other teams that shouldn't be overlooked.