This was getting really long (it's my senior year, I can't help but be nostalgic about it), so I split this into two parts so that it will be a slightly easier read.
There’s more guys that could have made this list, but ultimately I narrowed it down to just these two. Keep in mind that the seniors in this class are my age so I “grew up” watching and comparing myself to them (and thinking, “Holy crap, how can these guys possibly be my age?”). My two main focuses over the years were XC and the 800, so these guys seem like logical choices.
Brad Miles, North Penn
Miles first burst onto the radar in XC his sophomore season. I couldn’t believe the kid was just a sophomore as he posted awesome marks at Briarwood and Carlisle, rounding out a crazy strong top three for eventual XC state champs North Penn. The signature moment for him that season in my eyes was his 15:24 at districts as a sophomore (placing 4th). I think that moment really blew my mind.
Over the course of three XC seasons, Miles was to 6 in the district each year. His team won two golds and a seemingly improbable silver. He has three top 10 finishes in the state. He’s run 15:20 at Carlisle, 15:20 at Salesianum, and 15:49 at Briarwood. During Miles senior season, he went undefeated against PA competition and dominated his league and district before unleashing a filthy kick to win the state championship in a then course record of 15:47. He then won the Footlocker Northeast Regional (only Affolder has done that since, no one I can remember had done it before). Miles has qualified as an individual for both Footlocker Nationals and Nike Nationals in his career-the only PA guy in the history of the meets.
Miles track career was never quite as dynamic as his XC one, although he did post some strong results. He qualified for the state finals in the 1600 as a junior and ran 9:15 for 3200 in a loaded state finals as a senior. Brad was also quick enough over 800 meters to help his North Penn squad make the district finals in the event.
Tom Mallon, CB South
If Miles sophomore year blew my mind, you can imagine what Tom Mallon’s year looked like. The CB South sophomore grabbed his first state medal indoors at 800 with a 1:56 (a big PR at the time). As the tide turned toward outdoors, Mallon continued to turn heads. He helped elevate his 4x8 into the state title discussion after they clocked a 7:53 to win the League title and then dropped a 4:23 for 1600 to defeat Zack Montijo for another gold. A week later, CB South took 2nd at Districts in the 4x8 with Mallon producing a personal best 1:53.89 in the 800 to earn the silver.
But his first state championship appearance was where he really shined. After anchoring his 4x8 with a 1:52 split (they ran 7:46), he shocked the world with a surprisingly easy state title run in the open 800. Doubling back, Mallon clocked a 1:52.35 to win state gold by over a second. Again, he was just a sophomore.
That put a lot of pressure on Tom as he entered his junior track season. There was a target on his back all season as he raced against Mike Palmisano of Upper Dublin. Although it seemed Palmisano had the upper hand, Mallon turned it up a notch at the most important moments. He won the Meet of Champs 800 over a doubling Palmisano in a season best 1:57.26 before blasting a historic 1:51.79 state record at PSU a week later. For good measure, he anchor his team’s 4x8 in 1:52 to steal another state gold. His indoor campaign ended with a 2nd place finish in the individual 800 at nationals and a 3rd place finish in the 4x8 (behind two teams that would go on to run under the national record at Penn Relays).
Mallon’s junior outdoor season was all about the 4x8 as CB South chased (and got) the 4x8 state record. Mallon split under 1:50 on two of the biggest stages-Penn Relays and States-including a 1:49.1 anchor carry that was basically solo. They clocked times of 7:36, 7:37 and 7:33 that year to put them under 7:40 three times! Individually, Mallon ran 1:52.02 (fastest time of the year), won the outdoor state title relatively uncontested and, somehow, seemed like he underachieved. But his senior year would give him time for individual accolades.
Indoors, Tom focused on the mile distance his senior season. That worked out pretty well as he qualified for the Millrose Games and then won the mile state title over PA #1 Tom Kehl of Father Judge. Mallon also anchored his DMR to a win at the Meet of Champs and a 5th place finish at states. Tom tried for an ambitious triple at states with the 800 falling in between the mile and DMR. Although Mallon won his section of the 800, he finished 4th overall as three runners from Heat 2 ran a faster time.
With extra mile strength in his back pocket, Mallon got to work in the spring at 800 meters. At Henderson, he blasted a 1:49.61 which, at the time, was PA #3 AT. After winning leagues in the 1600 (3 straight) and 800, he went to districts and clocked a 1:52.71 district record. Then it was time for states. Here, Mallon blasted a 1:49.31 to take his third straight state gold and set a state meet record that had lasted since 1984. Mallon capped things off with a third straight sub 1:50 open time of 1:49.01 at the PA Distance Festival which made him “co-record holder” with Paul Vandegrift (who clocked 1:48.8h in 1987).
When Mallon hung up his spikes at graduation, he was the state meet record holder in the 800 both indoors and outdoors. He was the state record holder in the indoor and outdoor 800. He was the state and national federation record holder in the 4x800. He had claimed 7 state golds.
For the record, Mallon also had multiple sub 16 performances in XC and two top 30 finishes at the state championships. His senior season he was top 10 in District 1 for XC, state champ indoors for the mile and raced on the 5th place 4x400 at states.
What’s interesting about this year is that there weren’t many dominate teams. I think that made for some truly memorable races, but maybe not truly memorable teams.
The 2009 Henderson XC team started a big trend for the Warriors. Those around during the prime years of the blog know Henderson as a power that routinely won the district and competed for state gold, but before 2009 they had been routinely denied the title, watching Ches-mont rivals Coatesville and WC East take home the gold instead. But in 2009, Henderson stormed to a runaway victory at Lehigh and, with a deep team, eked out a victory in one of the tightest state meets in recent history (it included 5 teams with realistic title hopes). They had just one state medalist (Will Kellar), but got top 50 finishes from Khattabi, Andrews and Grab to help seal the golds.
On the track, Henderson continued to excel. Indoors, they won the state distance medley relay and their 800 man Luke Lefebure won individual gold in his best event. Outdoors, Henderson qualified for the Championship of America in the 4x800 relay and had a gold and silver medalist individually at outdoor states.
Top AA squads can tend to be overlooked in Pennsylvania, but the Quaker Valley boys made people notice them this decade. In XC, QV won district titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with scores of 47 and 41 points in those final two seasons. They posted six individual medals in that three year stretch and took 5th, 2nd and 2nd at states. Although they were narrowly denied a pair of state golds on the trails, they ended up making up for it on the track. Quaker Valley won the 2009 state title in the 4x8 with a 7:58 before turning it up a notch in 2010. They clocked a 7:46.46, the 2nd best time in AA meet history, and rolled behind a 1:52 anchor carry from Omar Hyjek. Hyjek ended up doubling up on his golds by winning the 1600 meters shortly thereafter.
Altoona was the first team I can remember that went after team titles in track. They weren’t afraid to double or triple where necessary to try and steal points. I think that was most exhibited in Wade Endress. The junior doubled with the mile and the DMR at indoor states, winning in an impressive bronze in the former before nearly nipping Will Kellar at the line to steal gold in the DMR. During the spring, Endress added medals in the 1600 and 800 while also being a 4x4 piece for their state final team. Altoona also had the sprint god that was Brady Gehret. Brady rolled to the state title indoors at both 200 and 400 and was splitting in the 45s for the 4x4 since his junior season. The dude was unreal.
By the way, the Altoona XC team was memorable as well. The school from District 6 made a legit push for the state championship in what would have been a huge surprise against the powers of the bigger districts. Although they ended up 4th in the final standings, Altoona finished with two state medalists (Endress and Chris Fischer) as well as another top 40 finisher (Liberman).
Honorable Mention: Baldwin
What a wild season Baldwin had. The WPIAL squad spent the fall posting excellent team results, led by a loaded top 3 of Dennis Logan, Matt Cecala and Bobby Bishop. However, they remained in the shadow of the titans from North Allegheny. They missed NA by just 12 points at Tri-States and 17 at Coopers despite averaging 16:45 and 16:41. At states, they finished 5th in the standings, just 26 points off the podium.
During the indoor season, Baldwin emerged as a state title contender again-this time in the DMR. The Baldwin boys clocked a 10:26.78 at the TSTCA Championships and set themselves up as the #1 seed in the state. After impressive middle legs from Arkangelo James and Dennis Logan, sophomore Bobby Bishop was put in a position to close it out for the title. However, the ultra-talented sophomore couldn’t’ quite hold off the all-time greats he was racing and Baldwin had to settle for 4th in 10:25.50. A little while later, Baldwin trekked to indoor nationals and earned 3 top 8 finishes in the distance relays taking 7th, 4th and 7th in the 4x8, DMR and 4xMile.