2011 AA Girls Preview: Historic year for Angel, Wide open team title race.
By Lex Mercado
2011 has a lot of potential to mirror the way the 2010 season ended. The AA division has sixteen returning state medalists, including the top four and seven of the top ten.
Defending champion Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center has been one of the best, if not the best runner in PA for the past two years. She repeated as the Penn Relays Mile champion and the AA girls 1600 meter champion with the fastest time of the meet. She cut her mile personal best down to 4:48.83 and she earned an invitation to the Adidas Dream Mile back in June. For her senior year, she will be looking to win back-to-back state titles and become only the 3rd AA girl to qualify for the Foot Locker finals twice. She enters the 2011 season as the 4th best returner from the Northeast region. Angel may be the heavy favorite, but AA also has a lot of great young runners who will also keep many eyes focused on the small school division.
Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic was the runner up to Angel last year and was the top freshmen finisher. Weisner may be the next big star in the state after finishing her freshman year with PRs of 2:14.95 (800) and 4:59.29 (1600) and two silver medal finishes at the state track champs. Piccirillo and Weisner will get a look at each other early, facing off in the PTXC-3 meet on September 10th.
Adair Gennocro of Saint Mary's Area was the bronze medalist last year and earned a 6th place medal in the 3200 meter run last spring. Emma Mahony of Villa Joseph Marie was 4th last year and was part of their 4th place 4x800 meter relay team at states. Megan McGarrity of Saint Basil's also medaled at states in track (3200) and is one of the five runners who broke 19 minutes coming back this year. Lille Brown of Boiling Springs finished 10th last season and finished off the track season with the gold medal in the 800 meter state final (2:13.78). Mckenna Spence of Cranberry finished 12th a year ago and brings an 800 meter state medal into this season.
The hunt for the team championship may be more competitive than it has ever been. With so many teams returning a big share of their varsity runners from a year ago, many teams can consider themselves contenders for the 2011 crown.
Defending champions Elk Lake surprised everyone (but themselves) and ended Central Cambria's three year title run last year with a convincing victory. For this season, the entire varsity seven will return and look to create a dynasty of their own. Elk Lake will be led by the sister duo of senior Maria and sophomore Elizabeth Trowbridge, who both finished in the top eleven last year. After winning the title with little or no experience, some may think defending the title should be a smoother trip. But out of last year's top ten, everyone returns at least five of their runners from the 2010 title race.
2010 runners up and District 2 rival Holy Redeemer bring back the sophomore trio of Rachel Sowinski (9th), Marissa Durako (16th), and Cassandra Gill (25th). No one team brings back more medalists than the District 2 squad. St .Basil's Academy were 5th for the 2nd straight season and only graduate their #3 runner from a year ago. Megan McGarrity (13th) also adds a 3200 meter medal from the spring season and could break the top five this year. Basil's will have great competition in their own district with Villa Joseph Marie looking to take their team spot out of District 1. VJM is led by last year's fourth place finisher Emma Mahony. Quaker Valley brings back the best 1-5 spread in AA and only graduate their 7th runner after a 4th place finish last year with zero state medalists. Despite not winning their 4th straight, Central Cambria still returns five runners, including 15th place finisher Alyssa Brandis. Mercyhurst Prep finished 6th last year with three freshmen on the team. Lewisburg brings back the most experience with this year's team carrying four seniors who will have to help fill the holes left by Shannon Wright and Dana Stockdale.
1 Angel Piccirillo, Jr* 5:37 11:37 18:44 6:02 Homer-Center (6)
2 1 Kennedy Weisner, Fr* 5:40 11:59 19:10 6:11 Elk Co Catholic (9)
3 Adair Gennocro, 10* 5:50 12:05 19:17 6:13 Saint Marys (9)
4 Emma Mahony, Jr* 5:50 12:09 19:18 6:13 Villa Joseph Marie (1
6 2 Maria Trowbridge, Jr* 5:47 12:06 19:35 6:19 Elk Lake (2)
9 5 Rachel Sowinski, So* 5:51 12:18 19:39 6:20 Holy Redeemer (2)
10 6 Lillie Brown, So* 5:52 12:21 19:40 6:21 Boiling Springs (3)
11 7 Elizabeth Trowbridge, Fr* 5:55 12:21 19:48 6:23 Elk Lake (2)
12 8 McKenna Spence, So* 5:52 12:24 19:51 6:24 Cranberry (9)
13 9 Megan McGarrity, So* 5:48 12:09 19:54 6:25 Saint Basil Acad (1)
15 11 Alyssa Brandis, So* 5:54 12:25 20:04 6:28 Central Cambria (6)
16 12 Marissa Durako, So* 5:56 12:21 20:05 6:28 Holy Redeemer (2)
17 Maria Snyder, So* 5:58 12:34 20:07 6:29 Northern Bedford (5)
22 Makenzie O'Connor, Jr* 6:03 12:42 20:20 6:33 General McLane (10)
24 Morgan Richards, Jr* 5:52 12:31 20:21 6:34 Hickory (10)
25 15 Cassandra Gill, So* 6:13 12:49 20:23 6:34 Holy Redeemer (2)