PIAA Preview: 3A Boys Championship

Welcome to the 2023 Preview of the 3A Boys PIAA XC Championship and best of luck to those competing in this year's meet.

2022 Recap:

"North Allegheny perfected its race strategy and delivered a third straight state title, the fourth in five years. The Tigers utilized a classic approach; they got out of the box patient and slowly picked their way through the field."

Expert Predictions

PredictionsJohn DavernPhil GroveCoach NixonIan Sherlock
IndividualDrew GriffithDrew GriffithDrew GriffithDrew Griffith
TeamCouncil Rock NorthState CollegeState CollegeState College

A Battle of Beasts for the Team Title

La Salle certainly makes a case as the favorite. Take the team's showing at the Manhattan College XC Invitational, for example. On the legendary Van Cortlandt Park course, La Salle finished second to a nationally ranked Christian Brothers Academy team (NJ). The La Salle boys averaged 13:01 over the 5k course with a 51-second compression. The team's output at the Carlisle Invitational was similar. There, the team averaged 16:03.

State College has been relentless for most of the year. They turned our heads at the Foundation Invitational when they packed up and placed five runners within nine spots and ten seconds. They obliterated the competition to beat second-place Manheim Township by 65 points. The team then destroyed the competition at the Mid-Penn Championship and District 6 Championship with similarly dominant compressions.

Genuinely, Council Rock North may steal the show. We've been enamored by State College's remarkably tight compression all year, but Council Rock North has instituted a similar strategy to win.

At the District 1 Championship, CRN had a 42-second compression, and the team averaged 15:46. Their fifth, Jayden Neels, ran 16:11. Sure, the Lehigh Goodman Campus XC Course is undoubtedly fast, but that's impressive. You could also make the case that CRN's No. 1, Brady Ott, could contend with Casadei - while Matt Gosling and Andrew Young could run with the top State College boys.

Manheim Township will look to rebound from a second-place finish at the District 3 Championship. Chambersburg pulled off the upset, but Manheim Township should look closer to complete form as Gunner Geib continues his recovery from an illness that held him out of the Lancaster Lebanon League Championship two weeks ago. 

Also watch Lower Merion, North Allegheny, Souderton, Hershey, Chambersburg, and Butler.

Welcome to the Griffith Show.

Drew Griffith (Butler) ran 14:21 at the MileStat Invitational just a few weeks ago, breaking Gary Martin's PA State Record and running the fastest time in the country. He is ready to run for his first XC State Championship.

Griffith won the 3A Championship by running 26 seconds faster than Jack Bertram (North Allegheny) in second. Remember, Bertram was the third-place finisher at states in 2022, so that gives you a pretty good perspective of where Griffith is physically.

Bertram is North Allegheny's ace, and he hasn't finished worse than second all year. His time is coming, and expect him to be at the front again at States.

The Mazzeo brothers have been turning heads with their standout performances at the CAL Championship and the District 1 Championships. Nicholas Mazzeo and Alexander Mazzeo have an innate ability to stick with a pack and time their moves. They've been able to masterfully use the momentum of a pack to put them in a position to win. Nicholas won both the CAL and District 1 Championship, running 15:07. Alex has been right there with him, finishing just a few seconds back on both occasions. 

Above: Nick and Alex Mazzeo after their District 1 Race.

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Richard Planck (Downingtown West) battled Nicholas Mazzeo at the District 1 Championship. He finished just a second back. Planck has a lot of strength, and despite a relatively short schedule, he has collected some individual victories, including wins at the Unionville 2 Mile Bash and the Ches-Mont Championships.

The District 10 Champion, Kamden Kramer (McDowell), has also enjoyed a rather impressive season. He has run quick on a myriad of courses, winning the Legends Meet in 15:18, winning the NWPA Cross Country Invitational and the District 10 Championship. He finished 11th at last year's PIAA final.

Adam Kingston (Manheim Township) won the District 3 Championship last week. He ran away from Vinay Raman (Hershey) to post a 15:41 on a challenging Big Springs course. He was seventh at Foundation earlier this year and 10th at Paul Short. He has consistently been running in the 15:40s the last few meets.

Raman is there with Kingston. There's no reason he can't rebound and compete with the top bunch at the state level. He has many good finishes under his belt, including a Mid-Penn Championship.

The District 11 Champ, Giovanni Mastromonaco, has flown under the radar since his late-season injury in 2022, but let me remind you he was projected to finish inside the Top 15 last year. He has since rebounded in a big way, and he could be ready to make a run at a top-10 finish or better.

Above: We caught up with Brian McCormack after his race at District 2

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Then there's the District 2 Champ, Brian McCormack (Scranton). He has been phenomenal this year and finished third at Foundation and third at Paul Short before winning the District Crown. He is an incredibly fluid runner, and he has a way of making it look easy. He could challenge for a top-three position.

How could we forget Cole Casadei (LaSalle)? Casadei has been lighting the world on fire. He ran 15:23 to finish second at Carlisle before finishing fourth at the prestigious Manhattan College XC Invitational and tempoing his way to a runner-up finish at the D12 Championship.

Others to watch include Aidan Maue (Souderton), Ian Johnson (Perkiomen Valley), Nick Steinfeldt (Downingtown East), Ari Snyder (Chambersburg), Achilles Shui (North Penn), Hayden Parks (Greencastle Antrim).