2011 AA Boys Preview: Smathers-Westwood favored | Quaker Valley, NE Bradford took to rebound.
By Lex Mercado
Controversy surrounded the end of the 2010 AA season, as Northeast Bradford were set to become the champions, only to be denied by a disqualification and demoted to 8th place. Elk Lake were the beneficiaries of said decision and completed a historic sweep of both the boys and girls championships. Leadership was the name of their game with a top five that featured four seniors. With their graduation, they will return only one medalist in junior Luke Jones, who finished as their number 2 in that race. With that amount of runners departing, there will be many contenders looking to take advantage of the situation.
Despite what happened last year, Northeast Bradford has the pieces in place to make another attempt at the championship. In the state meet last year, they had four score under 50 points and only one of them graduated. The other five scorers will be sophomores or juniors, led by 10th place finisher Sam Williams and 23rd place finisher Curt Jewett. Quaker Valley spent most of last season as the team with the best chance of winning, only to finish 3rd. They do bring back the AA 800 meter champion in L.J. Westwood, who was 8th last November, along with the rest of their top six. They will bring in a top three who all have personal bests under 17 minutes. 2010 runners up Holy Redeemer bring back 3-6, but will graduate their top two, while North East graduates three, but brings back the top returner from their 4th place finish in junior Ryan Smathers. West Middlesex finished in the middle of the pack last year, but bring back a top five that have all cracked 18 minutes who will look for a better performance on the big stage.
Individually, the top two returners are Ryan Smathers of North East (5th) and L.J. Westwood of Quaker Valley (8th). They headline a group in which no one enters the season with a personal best under 16 minutes for 5000 meters. Westwood won the 800 meter championship last spring while Smathers was 2nd in the 1600 meter run and made the finals of the 800. Sam Williams of Northeast Bradford was the only other top ten finisher from last year that's back (10th). He finished 4th in the 3200 meters last spring. His teammate Curt Jewett joined Smathers at the top of the list last fall, with both guys running 16:04. Brendan Shearn of North Schuylkill was 15th last season, but finished strong last spring, earning silver in the 3200 and finishing 8th in the 1600. Kelby Mullen of Sullivan County (12th) and Jack Bagamery of Shady Side Academy (14th) had great performances at states last year and will contend for top ten spots this season.
5 3 Ryan Smathers, So 4:51 10:19 16:43 5:24 North East (10)
8 5 L J. Westwood, Jr 4:58 10:31 16:51 5:26 Quaker Valley (7)
10 6 Sam Williams, So 5:01 10:35 16:53 5:27 Northeast Bradford (4
12 Kelby Mullen, So 5:01 10:34 16:55 5:27 Sullivan County (4)
14 Jack Bagamery, Jr 5:05 10:40 16:57 5:28 Shady Side Academy (7
15 Brendan Shearn, So 4:56 10:31 16:58 5:28 North Schuylkill (11)
17 8 Luke Jones, So 4:58 10:31 16:59 5:28 Elk Lake (2)
19 Nate Tallada, Jr 4:53 10:23 17:00 5:29 Saegertown (10)
21 9 Grant Barber, Jr 5:09 10:44 17:06 5:31 Central Cambria (6)
22 Asa Equels, Jr 5:09 10:43 17:07 5:31 Beaver Area (7)
23 10 Curt Jewett, So 4:56 10:34 17:08 5:31 Northeast Bradford (4)