PIAA Preview: 1A Boys Championship

Welcome to the 2023 Preview of the 1A Boys PIAA XC Championship and best of luck to those competing in this year's state meet.

2022 Recap:

"Central Cambria refused to misstep. They were near perfect in their ventures and led from the first mile to the finish. They found their positions early and maintained their placing throughout, which isn't always the most straightforward task on the Hershey Parkview Course. Thomas Smigo earned his second straight state title from the front this year, running 16:33."

Expert Predictions

PredictionsJohn DavernPhil GroveCoach NixonIan Sherlock
IndividualsTyler RaderJaxon SchoedelTyler RaderTyler Rader
TeamsRiverviewAnnville-CleonaAnnville-CleonaEden Christian

Central Cambria will Attempt a Title Defense in the Team Race

Truthfully, this one is up in the air, but let's start with our defending state champ, Central Cambria. It's a new-look squad for the champs, as they graduated both Aiden Lechleitner and Cody Roberts, who finished in ninth and eleventh, respectively, at last year's championship.

However, they did return Evan George, Dom Kuntz, and Jake Wilson from their top five. They also added sophomore Ethan Haycisak and freshman Derek McConnell. The squad just won the District 6 Championship and placed five runners in the top 11 with a 17:38 average. They certainly don't have the same firepower they had last year, but you'd be silly to count them out.

Annville-Cleona, out of District 3, is certainly a contender. Landon Hostetter has been outlandishly good for his team in 2023 and just helped lead Annville-Cleona to a very dominant District 3 Title. The squad placed six runners in the top 12 and averaged 17:24 on a challenging Big Springs XC Course.

Above: Landon Hostetter discusses the Annville-Cleona team goals.

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Then, you have to consider the contenders from District 7. Riverview just upset Eden Christian to win an impressive District title. It was a surprising outcome because we expected to see Eden Christian outright dominate. They have five runners who have run sub-17 and three who have gone 16:04 or faster.

But the team was without Matthew Otto, Eden Christian's third runner, which opened the door for Riverview to capitalize. And capitalize they did. They placed five runners in the Top 20 with a 37-second compression to claim victory. They have an excellent opportunity to carry momentum into Hershey.

Keep an eye on District 10's Rocky Grove. The team has a solid trio of Easton Adamczyk, Ethan Knapp, and Gauge Gierlach, and they could certainly mix it up for a podium finish.

Don't overlook Winchester Thurston.

It'll be a Dogfight on the Individual Side

Tyler Rader (Huntingdon) is the top returner to this year's race. Rader was second at last year's state meet, and he has been terrific again in 2023. Except for a second-place finish at the Spiked Shoe Invitational, Rader is otherwise undefeated on the campaign. Further, he has yet to lose to a PA runner all year. He just won the District 6 Championship by 1:12, and he is in peak form ahead of this Saturday's final.

Landon Hostetter could challenge him. The Annville-Cleona ace also has a series of solid finishes this year. He just won the District 3 Championship but finished 11th at Foundation. Granted, the conditions were awful in September, and he has an excellent opportunity to contend for the state championship.

The District 2 Champion, Kendel Jones (Elk Lake), is a versatile runner. He was third at Foundation, and he hung with Rader for a while in that affair. He only finished thirteen seconds back. 

We'd be foolish to count out Kevin Sherry (Coudersport). He has been exceptional this year yet again and ran a personal best of 15:39 at the Lock Haven University Bear Mountain River Run this year. He was second at Foundation but sputtered at the District 9 Championship and finished fourth. That's not to say that he can't rebound.

Jaxon Schoedel (Mohawk), the District 7 Champion, could be the biggest threat of them all. He didn't race at the state championship last year, but he is undefeated on the season. He ran a personal best of 15:40.9 at the WPIAL final, and he's itching to run faster. If he can deliver on that, he'll be right in step with Rader.

Also, keep an eye on Creed Dewing (Northeast Bradford), Nathan Garrett (Eden Christian), Denis Tulin (Jenkintown), and Eli Schreiber (Ridgway).