PIAA Preview: 1A Girls Championship

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

2022 Recap:

"On Saturday morning, Notre Dame Green Pond and Montrose tied with 78 points a piece. 78 points in a state championship race is impressive enough, but when you consider that two teams managed the score, it is pretty remarkable. The Individual Race was pretty straightforward. Freshman phenom, Virginia Kraus, led wire-to-wire, dictating the race with authority and grit. She soared to the front early and never looked back as she capped her terrific freshman campaign. Kraus crossed the line at 18:54, the fifth fastest time of the day."

Expert Predictions

PredictionsJohn DavernPhil GroveCoach NixonIan Sherlock
IndividualsVirginia KrausVirginia KrausVirginia KrausVirginia Kraus
TeamsNotre Dame Green PondElk County CatholicNotre Dame Green PondNotre Dame Green Pond

Can Notre Dame Green Pond defend it's title?

We have a battle brewing in 1A. 

Notre Dame Green Pond is returning as the Reigning Championship team. They held off Montrose last year and won by tiebreaker. 

Early in the year, Notre Dame Green Pond finished second to Abington Heights (3A) at the Lions Invitational. They then finished second at the out-of-state McQuaid Invitational before winning the Colonial League Championship and District 11 Championship with a 20:54 average. They are undefeated versus 1A teams this year.

Elk County Catholic will undoubtedly be looking to contend again this year. The squad finished fifth at last year's championship and returned most of their squad. Grace Neubert and Sophia Bille make for a lethal 1-2 punch. They finished inside the Top 10 last year and will look to replicate those results. They then have Sami Straub, Gianna Bille, and Katie Straub to anchor their line-up. The team looks improved from last year, and they may be able to usurp the Notre Dame Green Pond contingent a week after winning the District 9 title.

Again, the teams from District 7 could contend. Mohawk, Riverview, Winchester Thurston, and Shady Side all finished within 8 points of one another and averaged right around 22:00 each. Though Mohawk returned with the District win, watch for Winchester Thurston and Shady Side Academy to break through and contend for a top spot. Winchester Thurston had four runners in the Top 15 at the District 7 Championship.

District four's Northeast Bradford will be in the mix as well. The team won the District 4 Championship with a 21:19 average on a relatively challenging Bloomsburg University course. The team also won the NTL Coaches Invitational and finished second to Elk County Catholic at the PIAA Foundation Invitational.

Seneca may also be a contender. The team just dominated the District 10 Championship, posting a 21:11 average and a 1:19 spread.

Also watch Regina Luminis, York Catholic, United, and Marion Center.

Virginia Kraus wants to make it 2 Straight.

Virginia Kraus will be on a mission to defend her 2022 State Title. The Moravian Academy sophomore has been one of the best runners in the state, let alone 1A. She has run 45 seconds faster than the next 1A runner, and her 17:42 currently ranks third in the state overall.

She is undefeated on the season and won the Paul Short Run over 3A standout Olivia Cieslak in September. She is the favorite come Saturday.

We'll watch Kate Moncavage (Southern Columbia) and Gracelyn Laudermilch (Northeast Bradford) out of District 4. Laudermilch beat Moncavage for the District 4 title, and she knows how to run the hills well. But Moncavage has also been excellent and ran a personal best of 18:27 earlier this year. She finished fourth at last year's championship.

Above: Chelsea Hartman talks with PA MileSplit after he runner-up at District 7.

- - -

Similarly, the District 7 contingent of Lexi Fluharty (Riverside), Chelsea Hartman (Shady Side), and Alexis Abbett (Aquinas Academy) may also contend for the Top 3 spots. Fluharty ran away from Hartman and Abbett to win the District 7 Championship, but all three have the acumen to front-run. 

Hartman was the 2022 runner-up, while Fluharty finished eighth and Abbett finished 12th.

Grace Neubert (Elk County Catholic) won the District 9 Championship handily and will be amongst the leaders on Saturday. She won Red, White, and Blue, the Bradford Invitational and Foundation earlier this year. She finished sixth in 2022. 

Also, keep an eye on Lanee Berkhimer (Martinsburg Central), Carissa Flynn (Mountain View), AnnaSophia Viccari (West Middlesex), Karis McElhaney (Jamestown), Madeline Murphy (York Catholic), and Katherine Koons (Notre Dame Green Pond)