PA Pre-Season Preview Central
Pre-Season Rankings are posted on each story
Let's just start by saying, "AAA Girls is loaded."
Defending State Champ, Sara Sargent of Pennsbury, leads the way as she prepares to build on her storybook freshman year and help get her team to the podium. Pennsbury returns all seven runners from last year’s third place team, giving them a SLIGHT edge over the rest of the field. Behind Sargent, Pennsbury had a great spread for their 2-6 runners of 42 seconds. If they can move up their tight pack , they will be hard to beat when tacking on Sargent’s low score.
North Allegheny, fourth place a year ago (17 points behind Pennsbury) , is the only other top ten team to keep their top seven intact . Out of last year’s top ten teams, only Emmaus doesn’t return at least 4 runners, so it’s easy to see how tight the competition will be for those coveted podium spots. North Allegheny’s 46-second spread from 1-6 is normally enough in most races, but when you have athletes like Sargent in the race, you need a little more.
North Hills returns five of seven from last year’s 9th place team, including the Malone sisters (Margo and Shannon). The Malone sisters will lead the charge up front, but need their 3-4-5 to step up for them to get a trophy. The matchups between them and North Allegheny should make both teams battle-hardened by the time November 6 rolls around. North Hills did beat North Allegheny at the WPIAL Championship to earn runner-up honors in 2009.
If Norwin can hit their peak a week later this year, they will be in contention for one of the top two spots. Norwin was the WPIAL Champion, but only finished 6th at states. They return 4 of their top 5 as they look to repeat as WPIAL Champs and carry that momentum to Hershey.
Warwick (5th) and West Chester Henderson (7th) both return four runners from last year and will look to move up in the rankings. Warwick needs to move up their tight pack (57-spread) so they get their scoring started earlier, while West Chester Henderson has to complement Janie Augustyn’s (4th overall, 3rd in scorers) low score with solid placing.
Other teams to watch (2009 finish, returnees) in alpha order are Butler (12th, 5 of 7), Central Bucks South (10th, 4 of 7), Cumberland Valley (16th, 6 of 7), Liberty (8th, 5 of 7), North Penn (2nd, 4 of 7), and State College (13th, 6 of 7).
All three of the Sara Saragent-Katie Kinkead clashes at last year’s state championships were epic, and we are fortunate that they will resume one more time on the HS level very soon. Both runners moved on from their stellar XC campaigns to have great track seasons, but the result was always the same – Sargent first, Kinkead second. Kinkead will look to reverse some of those finishes this year, but will have her work cut out for her as everyone wonders what Sargent will do this year for an encore.
While Sargent and Kinkead are the top two returners, there are several girls who have not conceded those top two spots just yet. With 17 runners from last year’s top 25 returning, including eight of the top ten, it will be a battle royale to earn a medal. Leigha Anderson of Cumberland Valley (3rd), Janie Augustyn (4th), Margo Malone (5th), Meghan McGovern of North Penn (8th), Jess Cygan of Liberty (9th), and Tess Mehan of Haverford Twp. (10th) are the other top ten returnees.
Five (Sargent, Kinkead, Augustyn, McGovern and Meehan) of the eight returning girls are from District I, so they will face each other several times throughout the season, giving us an idea of where they stand.
Augustyn was 4th at the District I championships, but moved up one spot when she traveled east to Hershey.
McGovern was the only athlete other than Sargent to break 18 minutes last year when she ran 17:39 (10/23/09, SOL Continental Conference Championship) and 17:51 (10/30/2009, District I Championship) at Leghigh.
Meehan had a great freshman year as she proved she was a big time racer. She finished 22nd at the District I Championship, then took it up a notch when it came time for states. Watch for (one-year older) sister Sophia to stay in front. She was ahead in all races prior to 2009 states. She is the same year as Sargent and Shannon Malone (11th), so she will have her hands full these next three years.
Cygan, the 2008 state champ, beat Sargent at the 2009 Foundation race and will be looking to end her HS career with another title.
Although Margo Malone didn’t win WPIALS, she was the top finisher from District VII in Hershey as she leads two other D7 runners into the top 10.
Anderson will race on the championship course the week before for districts. It will give her a chance to fine tune her strategy for her last chance at an XC state title.
-Warwick was the only team in 2009 to have all their runners finish in top 100 scoring places
-In 2009 it took 19:41 to earn a medal, with 17 returnees, expect that time to drop.
-12 team scorers from 2009 were in top 25, 9 were underclassmen
Returning medallists (17)
Sara Sargent Pennsbury, 1st
Katie Kinkead, Central Bucks East 2nd
Leigha Anderson, Cumberland Valley 3rd
Janie Augustyn, West Chester Henderson 4th
Margo Malone, North Hills 5th
Meghan McGovern, North Penn 8th
Jess Cygan, Liberty 9th
Tess Mehan, Haverford Township 10th
Shannon Malone, North Hills 11th
Angelica Peck Blackhawk 12th
Amy Darlington Liberty 13th
Kayla Lampe, Bishop Shanahan 14th
Rachel Sowinski, Holy Redeemer 18th
Adair Gennocro, St. Mary’s 19th
Marissa Polk, Oakland Catholic 21
Jenny Guidera, Central Bucks East 22nd
Audrey Malloy, Uppoer Perkiomen 24th
PTXC Pre-Season - Girls AAA
2. North Allegheny
3. Cumberland Valley
4. Central Bucks East
6. North Penn
T-8. Downingtown East
T-8. Central Bucks West
10. State College