PIAA Preview: 2A Girls Championship

Welcome to the 2023 Preview of the 2A Girls PIAA XC Championship and best of luck to those competing in this year's meet.

2022 Recap:

"The team battle was one for the cinema theaters as four teams finished within nine points of each other. It came down to the wire for Cathedral PrepDanvilleMontour, and Beaver Area, but Cathedral Prep pulled it out despite injury on the course."

Expert Predictions

PredictionsJohn DavernPhil GroveCoach NixonIan Sherlock
IndividualBaylee EspinosaBaylee EspinosaMadison HedglinMadison Hedglin
TeamDanvilleCathedral PrepDanvilleCathedral Prep

Danville looks to Challenge Cathedral Prep

This year's trend seems to be "Defending State Titles." Yet again, we have a showdown between a Reigning State Championship team and a few eager contenders.

Cathedral Prep won the 2022 title against all odds when Rue Burkett, a staple in CP's top 5, suffered a broken leg injury during the race. Danville, Montour, and Beaver Area finished within nine points of Cathedral Prep.

So, in 2023, we'll see a rematch between Danville and Cathedral Prep. CP has looked great again this year. The team most recently won the NWPA Cross Country Invitational and the District 10 Championship. The stellar trio of Anne-Catherine Brown, Lauren Raimy, and Allison Bender leads them.

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Danville has been a dominant force in 2A. At the PIAA Foundation Invitational, the Danville girls beat out Cathedral Prep 66-94. They then went on to win the NEPA Invitational, the SHIK/PHAC Invitational, and the District 4 Championship. The key to their success is a vicious pack of girls. At the D4 Championship, they finished in 2-4-5-6-7, with a 40-second spread and a 19:23 average on a relatively challenging Bloomsburg course. There's a chance that we could see all of Danville's top 5 under 20 minutes at Hershey, which would likely mean that they could have five girls in the Top 20 overall.

North Catholic has also had its share of good moments this year. They won the District 7 Championship over Montour 80-99. They have a solid front four of Madeline Meeuf, Gracie Plastino, Grace Lazzara, and Sydney Dunn. Through four, they could be right with Cathedral Prep and Danville.

Montour is right there as well with North Catholic. Lakyn Schaltenbrand and Tiffany Miller have been studs for Montour and will be in the mix for Top-10 finishes.

Saint Marys Area is certainly another contender. They have been one of the best teams in Central PA this year. Gabby Pistner is a true No. 1, but behind her, they have a pack of four girls who run well together. The team is coming off of a win at the District 9 Championship.

Also, watch for Lower Moreland, Central Cambria, Dallas, and Crestwood.

Its Anyone's Race in 2A

This is going to be an entertaining one. There are probably 10 or 11 girls who could claim the 2A crown.

Atop the list is likely Baylee Espinosa (Lewisburg). Espinosa is currently on a five-invitational/championship win streak. She won the PIAA 2A Foundation Invitational, the Carlisle Invitational, the SHIK/PHAC Invitational, and most recently, the PIAA District 4 Championship. She won the district title with an 18:20.

Madison Hedglin (Dallas) is undoubtedly a girl who could contend with Espinosa. Hedglin did finish second to Espinosa at Foundation, but she went on to win the Paul Short and the District 2 Championship. Hedglin finished sixth at last year's state championship, and she is the top returner from that field.

Above: Maddy Hedglin after her District 2 Win.

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Gracie Plastino (North Catholic) and Amelia Ogawa (Lower Moreland) were third and fourth in that same Foundation race. Ogawa is a well-rounded veteran, and she has turned it on since that invite. She won the Gettysburg Invitational, the Suburban One League Championship, and the District 1 Championship. She ran in the 18:30s in each of those three races.

Gabby Pistner (Saint Marys Area) has been on a roll as well. She ran 18:31 at the TSTCA Cross Country Championship to place sixth in 3A before winning the District 9 Championship this past weekend.

Then, there are another four runners from the WPIAL that could mix it up. Madeline Meeuf (North Catholic), Grace Fritzman (West Allegheny), Grace Trimmer (Uniontown), and Annabel Johnson (Woodland Hills) all finished within 7-seconds of one another at the District 7 Championship. Meeuf came away as the winner of that one, and she helped lead North Catholic to the District crown.

Then there's the powerhouse freshmen out of District 5. Emily Fisher (Somerset) and Chloe May (Bedford) have been lights out this year, and they went 1-2 at the District Championship.

Fisher has yet to finish worse than second all year; can she carry that trend into the state championship?

Cathedral Prep's Anne-Catherine Brown deserves her flowers as well. The sophomore just won the District 10 Championship in a statement 18:37. She beat the field by 18 seconds. She finished 11th at last year's state meet.

So, who else? Keep an eye on the District 11 Champion Avery Errico (Wilson), Franklin Area's Nadalie Latchaw, and Montour's Lakyn Schaltenbrand.