Sorry about last week friends, I was out of the office in Boston and didn’t have enough time to throw together recaps for all the meets. I may put up what I had drafted out later this week underneath this post if people want to see it (although it’s somewhat old news at this stage). Anyway, enjoy these more recent recaps …
CB West Relays
It’s amazing to think that neither of the two 4x8 powers from this race will contest that same relay at the Penn Relays. Pennridge dropped a 7:50.16 to outlast the defending state championships from CB West, who ran 7:53.32. Pennridge hung right with their inter-conference rivals and had two huge splits on the back end of 1:56.7 and 1:54.3. I would assume Matt Eissler brought things home and used his superstar speed to outlast a balanced CB West attack (1:57 for each of their last three legs). LaSalle had a pretty nice showing with a time of 8:02. I’d be interested to know if they ran this with or without Addison as that could change their Penn Relays odds. They had a 1:58.1 anchor carry.
All that being said, Pennridge’s big win sets the stage for an epic state championship battle. Once again this program is peaking at the right time and is ready to get that coveted 4x8 outdoor gold that they’ve been knocking on the door of in recent years. They’ve moved into the favorite position for now, but I’m not ready to count out CB West, Pennsbury or Ephrata. Hoping this relay stays this competitive and fun.
Speaking of Pennsbury, they knocked off CB West to win the DMR with a time of 10:38 to West’s 10:49. The key legs ran 3:15 and 4:29 for Pennsbury. I’m interested to know who was the 1200 leg for West (3:11) as that seems to be the biggest question mark in mind as we look ahead to their DMR chances at Penn Relays.
CB East is a team to keep an eye on. They won the 4x1600 in a time of 18:27, holding on against a late charging LaSalle squad that was anchored in 4:23.
Garrett Baublitz is back and as good as ever. The Juniata sophomore rolled to a 10 second victory in the 1600 with a time of 4:23.41. In the process he defeated a red hot Ethan Knoebel who edged out Zach Kohler for the silver. Any doubts about Baublitz’s health after his end to the indoor season should be silenced at this point. At this stage, Baublitz may be the one to beat in this event even if Forsythe, Cullen and Leeser all return ahead of him. He’s trending that well.
Andrew Stanley kept pace with some hot 3200s this weekend, taking the 8 lap title in 9:43. XC stand out Logan Horst of Lancaster Mennonite was 2nd and Ethan Knoebel was 3rd, both under 10 minutes. Stanley also won the 2,000 steeplechase in a mark of 6:18.
Danville threw their name on the list of 4x8 contenders, winning that relay (8:16) and the 4x4 on the future home of the state championships. Both victories came by impressive margins.
The Ephrata boys are looking impressive, just in time for the Penn Relays. After a 7:59 run last week, they came to Shippensburg and won another 4x8 title. Then Tyler Shue stepped up for gold in the open 8 at 1:55.17. However perhaps the bigger development was Alex Morales clocking a 1:57.05 in the open. They will need someone to couple with Shue if they are going to compete alongside the great D1 programs. Morales is stepping into that role perfectly.
In a battle of XC super stars, Morgan Cupp and Tyler Wirth went toe to toe in the 3200. Cupp came out on top as he continues to be superb this outdoor season. He ran 9:34 to beat out Wirth’s 9:37. I really feel like Cupp has a chance to run something quick at states in a month. I’m not sure he is on the Beveridge-Rusty level, but he’s got sub 9:10 in site in my eyes. I like Wirth’s day as well. A 9:37-1:56 double is pretty impressive for two off events. I’m excited to see him get in a mile and chase something fast. Can he get to Conway’s level before the season is over?
Jack Wisner ended up winning the 1600 at this meet by a nose over Connor Shields. Wisner had a really strong XC season despite the fact that he lost his core training group. This program knows how to produce champions and Jack has been speedy since his freshman year. No one expected Isaac Kole to be state champion in the 1600 last year, but he started his quest with a win at this meet. How will Wisner do? That comparison, of course, may be unfair pressure for the junior, but he’s got a chance to make waves this season with his combination of strength and speed. Shields also has great speed. We haven’t heard the last of him in the state medalist talks.
The breakout star of this meet, however, was Mitchell Forgash of Wyoming Valley West. The senior popped off a 50.57 and then a 1:56.10 for 4th and 2nd in the two events. That 1:56.10 is a big PR after his 1:58 last year and Forgash goes from off the radar to state medal contender in a blink. That 4-8 double is really, really hard (although Collin Ebling is making that look like a weak statement) and Forgash still excelled in the 8. At the big meets, I think he will have to choose between events if he wants to reach his full potential, but for now Forgash is making a well-deserved name for himself.
State College quietly runs 8:12 in the 4x8 for second. I think their absurd streak of low 7:40s type marks is over, but this team may be able to make a run at sub 8 before all is said and done. You can’t count out this program.
Defending WPIAL 1600 meter champ Le’Shawn Huff continued his winning ways with a 4:25 victory over Nate Price of General McLane (4:26). Jonah Powell won the 3200 in 9:43 after his strong 1600 run at Butler the night before. District 10 is going to get multiple qualifiers out of that 1600 for states I’ve got to imagine (or maybe multiple guys in the 32 depending on where the talent goes). Price and Powell are studs. The jury is still out on whether Huff can repeat in the 1600. The WPIAL mile field is looking a lot deeper this time around. Worth noting, Reynolds ran 8:19 to win the 4x8. I believe they are a AA school for the spring and had a real nice XC season that could carry some momentum.
Rusty Kujdych soloed a 9:18 for 3200, but Noah Beveridge may have had the top PA performance this weekend with his 4:12.58 win in the 1600. Beveridge showed some serious wheels during the indoor campaign and mixed it up for a state title in the mile. Now he adds a 4:12 mark to his resume, winning by almost 8 seconds over an impressive field that includes past state qualifiers Jonah Powell and Sam Owori. I am very excited for Beveridge to get in a fast 3200 and I think the Kujdych-Beveridge rematch could be one for the history books. Of course, maybe Beveridge will consider an event change if the 1600 continues to go this well (or a double).
For Powell, this is a big run as well. A 4:20.07 gets him in the top tier of runners and he’s proven he can hang under the bright lights. Jonah was 3rd at the AA XC State championships this year in a very quick time. He’ll face AAA competition this spring, but I think he’ll be up for the challenge. Josh Lewis, a AA track athlete from North East, clocked a 4:23.59 to insert him among the leaders in that event in his classification. I think his best work will come in the 3200, but that speed is very impressive. The kid has huge talent.
As I alluded to a meet earlier, the WPIAL’s 1600 depth is growing. Brett Brady and Sam Owori are at 4:23 already this year, Cameron Binda medaled indoors and ran 4:25 this meet, Beveridge is a proven force and there’s lots of long distance guys who make look to move down. In the 3200, Sam Snodgrass led all competitors with a 9:30, edging out sophomore Christian Fitch’s 9:31. Binda, Zach Leachman (another youngster) and Dan McGoey (yes, another youngster) all broke 9:40 as well. The 3200 could get awfully crowded meaning the 1600 may be a more worthwhile move for some of these top guys. Only time will tell.
I think Seth Ketler could be the WPIAL’s next big thing. I’d be interested to see him go toe to toe with Beveridge in a 1600. He dropped a 1:56.24 at this meet and knocked off a big time speedster in Matt Busche (1:57.52). It was a deep 800 field, but Ketler handled it well. We will see the junior try to continue his hot streak at the Penn Relays on anchor duties for the DMR.
I’m still waiting on the WPIAL 4x8s being unleashed. Seneca Valley obviously looks impressive, Greensburg Salem needs one more piece (but will likely lean individuals), Butler is sneaky good, Indiana Area has some rising stars and you can never count out North Allegheny. Plus, the team that may end up better than all of them who I’ll touch on further down the post.
Butler was the winner at this meet with an 8:11.88 to edge out Indiana Area.
Blue Jay Invite
Manheim Township showed flashes of some serious 4x8 potential with Gavin Maurer and Timothy Antonacci running 1:58.93 and 2:00.95 in the open. Plus the team added a 3:25 victory in the 4x4. They have Evan Dorenkamp (hasn’t raced in a while) and Ian Miller (more of a long distance guy) on the roster as well and could potentially get into the 7:55 range sooner rather than later. They were state qualifiers last year in that event. Speaking of Miller, he won the 3200 in a time of 9:45, setting a meet record.
Collin Ebling is approaching superstar type stuff. I can’t stress enough how difficult the 4-8 double is, but Ebling is cruising through it like it’s a cake walk. After posting blazing times in both events last weekend, he decided to take it up another notch with marks of 49.62 and 1:55.98 for double gold (comfortably) at ASD. Ebling’s Pottsville team was also the 4x4 champs in 3:33. Keep in mind Collin was a state qualifier at 1600 last year so the kid has monster range.
With Hoey looking more and more like a collegiate and Conway’s double attempt uncertain (what will OJR’s 4x8 do to Liam’s schedule?) is Ebling suddenly the favorite for state gold in the 800?
The AA 4x800 state championship race may have had a preview this weekend with Wyomissing going head to head with Schuylkill Valley. I’ve been impressed by the way SV has handled their business to date and they delivered with an 8:09. However, the XC state championships had another gear as they dropped an 8:05.06 for the win. Wyomissing’s Ben Kuhn was the winner in the 3200 (9:54) and Matt Driben was the runner-up in the 1600 (4:33 behind Nate Grucelski’s 4:30) while the Valley’s Ben Reisenweaver was the 800 individual champ.
Mount Lebanon Invitational
The Mount Lebanon 4x8 core may be the deepest we’ve seen. They had three guys on their indoor squad who were at 2 flat or under and I don’t think that counted sophomore Patrick Anderson (who ran the open mile). Well now Anderson’s 2:00.01 victory in the open 8 over a great 1-2 punch of Sam Snodgrass and Silas Mays makes him a factor on the relay. They are scheduled to compete at Penn Relays and need to be on your sleeper radar if they can handle the pressure on the big stage. This Patrick Anderson is a star.
This may have been the best meet of the weekend – certainly relative to expectations. At a smaller meet, some of the lesser known schools had their chance to shine. AA stand out Brenden Miller rolled to a big win in the 2k Steeplechase, clocking 6:07 for the victory and a sizable meet record. He topped Sam Williams who was a 9:12 3200 guy at his best.
As Miller was making his presence felt, Isaac Davis was countering. His Jersey Shore team clocked an 8:14 to win the 4x8 over fellow district 4 squad Warrior Run. Jersey Shore had two sub 2 800 legs and ended up making a pass on the anchor to take gold. Davis was also the gold medal winner in the 1600, taking the title with a 4:28 to outlast Quinn Serfass of Loyalsock, a familiar foe, by 4 seconds.
But the moment of the meet came when Davis and Miller went head to head in the 3200. Davis led through the first 800, but Miller came right back to press the pace. Over the final 800, Davis found another gear and pulled away with an impressive 9:24 to knock off Miller’s 9:29. Davis competes in AAA for track (unless something’s changed) so we won’t see these two head to head at states, but Isaac Davis is making a compelling case for inclusion in the top tier of 3200 guys. His XC season was in the same league as the big names and his dominant performance at Hershey last fall was jaw dropping. Don’t sleep on this kid just because he isn’t from a power district.
By the way, a grand total of 9 different guys broke the 10 minute barrier in this meet’s 3200 including Penns Valley freshman Colton Sands (9:43!) who will compete in AA this spring. Also in the AA ranks were Quinn Serfass (9:43), Carter Kauffman (9:49) and Serfass’s teammates Ryan Sullivan and Alejandro Quintana (9:56-9:57).
And if that wasn’t enough to get you excited, Tyler Leeser told everyone he was back. The Milton senior rolled to a 1:55.48 victory in the 800, pulling away on the second lap after Griffin Sites of Towanda set off at a blazing pace to start things off (56.1). Tyler Bailey of Mifflinburg had a heck of a day with a 1:57.03. I think he may be in the AA field this spring which would make him an instant medal contender. Micah Worth of Jersey Shore, a sophomore, may have been one of the sub 2 splits on their 4x8. I think this kid could have a big result the next time he gets in a fast race after getting a taste of things at this meet. Keep an eye out for him in future results.
Hoka One One Warrior Invite
Yes, I made my Ches-mont friends scroll all the way down the page for this one (probably 95% of the readership at this point), but it was the last tab I opened so I apologize for that.
Liam Conway doesn’t seem to have lost a step after his indoor campaign. The senior clocked a 1:55.56 to roll to the gold medal in the open 800 over 2 seconds ahead of his next closest competitor. Conway heads to the Penn Relays next weekend for the individual mile, but he also may be racing the 4x8. OJR got into the field with a sub 8:10 time and could be a sleeper to do some damage with a superstar type anchor (if he doesn’t save up for the individual event). Kyle Malmstrom was 5th in the open 8, posting a time of 2:00.71. That time came from Heat 5 out of 6, where Malmstrom was 1st place overall. That’s a pretty nice one-two punch.
Of course the biggest performance from this school came in the 3200. Linus Blatz, a solid contributor during XC, turned himself into a household name this weekend. Blatz dropped a 9:35.91 in the 3200 to win against a strong field that included Tyler Rollins (9:36), Payton Sewall (9:37) and Noah Dusseau (9:38). Rollins was 3rd at indoor states for the 3k and Sewall was an XC state medalist, both for DT West. Blatz enters an elite crew as OJR continues to surprise me.
An out of stater won the 1600, but Elias Lindgren led the PA contingent well. The independent leaguer dropped a 4:23 for 2nd overall and the only top 5 spot. Haverford’s Aidan Tomov was next for the Keystone with DT West’s Evan Kaiser and Isaac Valderrabano breaking under 4:30 as well.