Welcome to the 2023 Preview of the 3A Girls PIAA XC Championship and best of luck to those competing in this year's meet.
"Wire-to-wire North Allegheny maintained control of the race and marched to a historic fifth team title in a row. With the Championship, North Allegheny became the first team in Pennsylvania History to win five in a row."
|Predictions||John Davern||Phil Grove||Coach Nixon||Ian Sherlock|
|Individual||Ella Wolfe||Logan St. John Kletter||Logan St. John Kletter||Logan St. John Kletter|
|Team||North Allegheny||North Allegheny||North Allegheny||North Allegheny|
North Allegheny is going after 6-Straight
For North Allegheny, the mission is simple. They need to do what they've been doing. The Tigers are on a different level this year, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.
In 2022, North Allegheny became the first PA team to win five state titles in a row. In 2023, they're going for six. NA has obliterated the Pennsylvania competition this year. At the PIAA Foundation Invitational, North Allegheny scored 46 points, while the next-best team scored 200. North Allegheny then won the TSTCA Championship and the District 7 Championship in a similar dominant fashion. Robin Kucler, Eva Kynaston, and Erin McGoey lead them.
Owen J. Roberts has consistently pieced together strong performances. They were the top Pennsylvania team in the Paul Short Brown race, won the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championships, and then won the District 1 Championship. Jane Kratz has been instrumental for OJR, and she finished fourth at the District 1 Championship.
Above: We caught up with Olivia Cieslak after her District Win.
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Mount Lebanon relies on the low sticks of Logan St. John Kletter and Caroline Adams. They could be in the Top 10 when all is said and done, greatly helping the squad's odds of finishing well.
Norwin has Annie Czajkowski leading the charge. She didn't have the best day at the WPIAL final but will be looking to rebound in a big way to help her team contend. Norwin has consistently been amongst the top 3A teams. They won the Blue Devil XC Invitational earlier this year by averaging 19:02.
The District 3 Championship team, Manheim Township, may mix things up at the top. At the District 3 Championship, they placed four runners within 19 seconds of one another to claim the win. They can run as a stout pack up front but need depth help to anchor them home.
Abington Heights offers some intrigue. The District 2 Champions were relentless at the District Championship and tackled the problematic hills at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds. In a state course preview of sorts, they averaged 19:58 with a 42-second compression.
Who can run the hills the best?
Logan St. John Kletter (Mount Lebanon) has been a force since returning to the cross course in 2023. She opened the campaign with a vicious 17:19 at the Bald Eagle Invitational. She hasn't run slower than 17:47 since. Hershey will present a new challenge for Kletter; this is undoubtedly the most demanding course she has raced all year.
Above: Logan St. John Kletter discusses her race at WPIALs and her season as a whole.
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The District 1 Champion, Olivia Cieslak (Haverford), has also been spectacular. Aside from a Paul Short runner-up finish, Cieslak has been flawless with wins at DELCOs, the CAL Championship, and the District 1 Championship. She ran 17:35.7 at the District meet to hold off Ella Woehlcke (Mount Saint Joseph), who was charging in the mid portions of the race.
Woehlcke has been returning from a summer injury that left her sidelined for some time. She debuted at Paul Short, a rustbuster, as she came across the line in 22nd. Since then, she has found her rhythm. She won the William Tennent Invitational, won the AACA Champs meet, and finished second at District 1. A challenging Hershey Parkview Course may be suitable in her wheelhouse.
We also have to consider the strength of Ella Wolfe (Hempfield). Wolfe has been on a tear. She was second at Ben Bloser and fourth at Paul Short before rattling off wins at the Lancaster Lebanon League final and the District 3 Championship. Her 18:00.3 was unbelievable as she separated from the field and powered through the course's hills. That could play into her favor this week. I wouldn't question her sheer strength over long distances or ability to tolerate the burn of hills, considering her background in triathlon.
Of course, you can't overlook any of the North Allegheny runners. Eva Kynaston and Robin Kucler have been stellar in their own right. At the WPIAL Championships, the two finished in second and third, respectively, with times of 17:53 and 17:56. Either one of them can find themselves in contention. They were only six seconds back from Kletter, and they have been the most consistent runners in 3A all year.
Lillian DiCola (Hatboro Horsham) is another star who thrives on challenging courses. She has a knack for staying composed in the early parts of a race, and she commonly avoids getting suckered into a hot pace. She was third at Foundation and won the Suburban One League Championship before finishing fifth at District 1.