Let's Get The Rankings Going

We've had some great discussion about the track classifications and I hope that can continue (most of the good stuff is in the comments on the All Other link below), but I want to get back to the XC team rankings for this upcoming season. As you may remember, I want to make this year's rankings a joint effort between myself and the fans. So I need you all to post up your top teams in the state so that I can incorporate them into the ranking system.

Here are all of your cheat sheets. Feel free to group everybody as one or separate by classification. Let's get some discussion going and hopefully have an interesting set of lists.

District One
District Three
All Other (Includes 1 A)

The Running Diaries: John Trainor Foreward

John Trainor, July 2019
I’m a pretty quiet guy by nature. Typically, I’ll sit back in a group of new people, listen and react. But for whatever reason, when the situation presents itself, I love to make speeches. I guess it’s because I think of myself as a writer and as a story teller. Those are some of my only skills. So if I have the chance to use them to make someone smile or to fight for someone’s rights, I do it. And I’m excited about it.
That’s how I ended up here. Shuffling nervously with my papers, preparing to present my defense for the Bloomsburg Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams. We were set to be dissolved, cut from the budget, and we were doing everything we could to try and keep our squads on the books. Not much had worked so far and, considering the slashes happening around us, things didn’t look particularly promising for us Huskies.
I suppose using the term “us” is a little misleading. I’m no longer a part of Bloomsburg’s team. Or a member of the student body in general. I graduated in May and, in all technical senses of the word, became an independent individual. But, in this wacky sport, the line between team and individual is a little blurry. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m mortal enemies with all the other schools in the PSAC and will hate them until the day I die. But if I see one of them out on a run, I’ll give them a nod rather than a punch in the face. Unless it’s Ryan Phillips. He’s the exception.
What I’m trying to say is that, ultimately, runners are all a community. We are each working toward the same goal: to be the best version of ourselves we can be. Even if there’s animosity, there’s at least respect. Except, of course, Ryan Phillips. Never Ryan Phillips.
So even though this budget cut doesn’t affect me directly, I felt compelled to do something for my future runners who would be following in my all too literal footsteps. And so I spoke.

“Track certainly has intrinsic value. It’s a really fun sport-most of the time anyway. You go out every race and try to push your body to its absolute limits. There’s no loop holes or short cuts. It’s just run fast. Jump high. Throw far. That’s competition in its purest form.
“But track’s greatest value is in the life lessons it teaches to its athletes. You need to be dedicated. You need to be disciplined. You need to make sacrifices. When someone offers you the chance to make a bad decision-anything from staying out all night to taking illicit substances-it can give you another reason to say no. It takes balance, time management and work ethic to achieve success. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that our Cross Country and Track teams have the highest GPAs in the entire school.”
I felt like this was a good line to really hammer my point home. I took a moment to let that line sit. One of the older members of my audience picked his nose. I may have overestimated its value.
“A lot of people complain that our generation is too entitled and expects everything to just be handed to them without any work. Well, there’s no better way to teach people about hard work than the sport of track and field. It takes constant training-tireless labor-to excel. If you slack off, you will get beat. Plain and simple.
“Socially it can be critical as well. Again, what people say our generation is missing can be found within cross country. When you go on a run with your teammates, it’s just you guys out there. We can’t run with lap tops. There’s no texting each other. It’s just you and your friends having a conversation. Learning. Growing. Communication in its most simplistic and cherished form.”
Appealing to the good old days. That was sure to get at least a nod of approval from these baby boomers on the committee right? I looked over at the nose-picker. He flicked his booger across the room. It could have been worse. At least he was awake.
“Anyone who has ever competed on a track or cross country team understands the unique attitude of these runners. The sport naturally allows you to enjoy everyone’s successes. Sure, there is a competitive fire to win and score points for your team, but there is also a joy that comes from watching hard working teammates set big personal bests. Or fighting with a rival and pushing each other under a big time barrier for the first time.
“When another team or athlete does well, we are happy for them. And the converse is certainly true as well.”
So there will the pillars. It seemed like maybe a few people were buying what I was selling. But, overall, I suspect people’s minds were generally made up. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Oh well, might as well bring it home.
“Just to be clear, I’m not lobbying for other sports to be cut instead. All sports have their place. My track is someone else’s tennis. Or golf. Or football. And why would I want to take away their passion? But I do hope that fans of other sports can see that my passion is the same as theirs. Even if my sport is more boring or less mainstream, it doesn’t mean my love of the game is any less important. That the lessons and skills that come out of my sport are any less significant. Right now, athletes are fighting an uphill battle and we need everyone’s support.
“I hope that we can all remember the pillars of track and field. Competition in its purest form. Communication in its purest form. Humanity in its purest form. And if that’s not worth saving, I’m not really sure what is.”
 “So it turns out nothing’s worth saving.” The boy to my left took a long swig of his beer. We each had our own coping mechanisms. While he drank quickly from his glass, I sat staring absentmindedly into my own, as if I could somehow find a couple thousand dollars to solve my problem as long I searched diligently enough. Surprisingly, that’s not where they’re hiding it.
Just a few hours after my fervent defense of our cross country program, I posted up at a local bar with my best friend and co-captain Gary Fox, mourning its demise. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but a well-crafted think piece wasn’t enough to change the hard line facts of an increasingly bankrupt state government or a consistently underappreciated sport. Ok, so the word “underappreciated” may have some bias to it, but if you thought I was going to play this perfectly neutral, I haven’t sufficiently introduced myself.
“If it makes you feel any better, I thought your speech was really good,” Gary said comfortingly. The statement itself didn’t make me feel any better, but the intent behind it helped a little bit. “Can you print me out a copy?” His direct question forced me to speak for the first time since we sat down.
But he was going to have to work harder than that to get a full sentence.
“Cool,” he polished off his beverage and stood up from the table. “And you might as well drink it, Train. Can’t get drunk with your eyes.” Nothing about my behavior changed. He stared to walk away, but added “When I get back, I’m buying you another one.”
I hate it when he buys me drinks. Something about the principle of not letting things go to waste makes me feel obligated to finish it-even when I don’t want or need it. That’s how my twenty first birthday ended with a sobbing phone call to my mother from the dormitory bathroom floor.
No, I won’t be elaborating. I’ve already divulged too much.
After a few short moments, someone slid back on the seat beside me. Figuring it was Gary, I decided not to look up from my relatively untouched beverage.
“You lose something in there?” It was a female voice, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t Gary. Unless he had gotten way better at impersonations. I raised my head, looking into the face of a pretty girl with brunette hair. By now I was at least 99 percent sure this wasn’t Gary.
“No … uh … I know it’s just beer in there,” I replied, my voice cracking slightly from lack of use. I think it’s my clever wit that helped me win over so many women during my collegiate years.
“Is everything alright? I’m just guessing here, but something seems wrong.”
“Yeah … it’s a long story.” I looked back over toward the bathroom, wondering how quickly Gary might re-emerge. “I should probably tell you that my friend-”
“Oh, I know,” she replied. “He’s over there talking to my friend.” She pointed to another girl, about the same age, with red hair and freckles. She was indeed talking to Gary. “To be perfectly honest, I’m just here to hold down the fort until he gives her his number.” She added bluntly. Looking a little closer, her friend did look a bit more recognizable. I think she was in my calculus class or something. “So, you might as well tell me your long story.”
“Well, if you’re gonna be stuck listening to me talk, I should probably get you a drink.” I caught the eye of the bartender. That was about as smooth as I could possibly hope to be.
“That’s OK, I’ll pay for my own. I don’t want to lead you on or make it seem like I’m interested in you.”
Super. I took my first big swig from my cup. I needed it. She ordered a drink of her own and then turned back to me. “So, let’s hear it.” I looked across the room at Gary. He was smiling and laughing. I’m not super well versed in the bro code, but I’d wager breaking that pair apart would violate it.
“Today I spoke in front of some of Bloomsburg’s board members, trying to get them to reconsider cutting the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams. But they didn’t.”
In retrospect, it really wasn’t that long of a story.
“We had a cross country skiing team here?” My new drinking mate asked, looking astonished. “No wonder they decided to defund it. There’s been like no snow.”
“No, Cross Country running.” I tried my best to be civil, but it felt like her words had been a personal attack on my family. “Have you never heard of that?”
“Nope. What is it?”
“Have you ever done, like, a local 5k race?” She nodded. “Well, it’s a lot like that. Except instead of running on streets, you run across terrain. So hills, grass, mud, things like that.”
“Oooh, so it’s like a Spartan-”
“No, it’s not a Spartan race. There’s no obstacles to climb or anything. It’s all running based.”
“Do they still spray you with colors?”
“No,” I was becoming increasingly agitated, now starting to fidget in my chair. “It’s not some gimmick driven event. It’s about racing head to head against the guy next to you. Whoever is stronger and faster is gonna win. Simple as that.”
“Sounds boring. But I don’t really like sports much.” She shrugged. I smiled weakly before looking back over toward Gary. I was grateful to see he was heading back this way. She noticed it too and, equally relieved, prepared for her exit. “Well, nice meeting you, uh …”
“John,” I filled in for her.
“Stacy.” She lingered for another second before standing, “Good luck with your-well-your not a Spartan race.”
“Thanks.” I looked down to take another drink of beer. When I looked back up, Gary had filled her vacated space, causing me to double take in confusion.
“She seemed kinda cute. Did you get her-what’s got you in such a huff?” He changed tone, noticing my disgruntled tearing at the paper on the outside of my bottle.
“Nothing,” I replied, tossing a moist scrap onto the counter. “So, who were you talking to?”
“This girl Elizabeth. I tutored her last semester in like Calculus class or something. She kept trying to get me to give her my number.” He finished sourly.
“What’s wrong with that? You like her, don’t you?”
“Not really.”
“But I saw you! You were smiling and laughing.”
“Nah dude, I was giving you the signal! Didn’t you couldn’t tell that was the fake laugh with the ‘save me’ eyes?”
“No. Because that’s not a thing.”
“It’s a thing.”
I sighed and went back to picking apart my label. “So what did you do?”
“I gave her my number.” Gary said flatly. “Not like I had much of a choice. She had me cornered” He looked at me carefully. “I’m guessing your experience didn’t go much better?”
“We didn’t have a lot in common.”
“So she hates running?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Well it’s the only interest you have, so I figured it out.” I opened my mouth to respond, but, admittedly, he had made a good point. “At least she got you to drink half of your beer. That’s a positive.”
“Why do people not get Cross Country?” I blurted out in frustration the question I had been deliberating the whole night. “Like … nobody cares.”
 “You’re just figuring this out?”
“No, I guess not … But I just thought maybe, if I could teach people more about the sport, get them to really understand what it’s about-”
“You’re going about it the wrong way. The sport in and of itself, it’s fine, but what makes it truly great is the people. The journey. The struggle. You can’t just make people understand that. They have to experience it.” Gary reached over and grabbed the beer from my hands. “And people aren’t exactly going to line up for that.” He tipped the bottle back and chugged the rest of the drink before placing on the counter. “Now, c’mon let’s get out of here.”
As we walked away from the bar and toward the exit, we walked past the two girls we had interacted with earlier that night. I gave a polite wave, but Gary ushered me forward to make sure we didn’t get caught in another conversation. While rushing forward, I noticed Gary’s ex-tutee’s shirt for the first time. Printed across the front in orange text were the words “Vikings Field Hockey”. Seeing them flash in front of me while dwelling on Gary’s last monologue, something clicked in my mind.
“Gary,” I reached out and grabbed his arm. “Did Elizabeth go to Union Valley High School?”
“I don’t know,” He said, continuing forward unperturbed, “Maybe That does sounds vaguely familiar.” We exited the bar and trudged back up the road toward our apartment, conveniently located just a few minutes away.
“I’m gonna need you to call her.” I said decisively.
“You’re kidding right? Didn’t we just over this?” Gary shook his head. “We move out next month and then my goal is to never see her again.”
“This is important. I’ve got an idea.”
“Unless it’s as good as our DadHat YouTube series, I don’t care.”
We continued our journey down the road before turning east onto a darker side road. Although Gary said he didn’t care, I knew him better than that. His curiosity would eventually cause him to break down and ask about my idea. It’d probably take a couple days, maybe even a week, but in the end he’d-
“OK, fine. What do you want?” Gary asked sounding defeated. Wow, he broke even quicker than expected. With a rush of excitement, I turned to him and firmly relayed my request.

“I need you to help me get in contact with Jimmy Springer.”       

Other Districts XC Returners Cheat Sheet

We’ve taken care of the big three, so now let’s talk about the little guys. Lots of talented programs in other districts who deserve a shout out, but I tried to limit it to squads with top 5-10 potential in the state so that the post didn’t get incredibly long. I apologize in advance if classifications or state qualifying #s have been changed without me knowing. If they have, hit us up with a link and I’ll be sure to update my files.

District 1
Jenkintown (1st D1, 6th States)
Jack Miller, Jr (2) 16:26/4:42
Josh Jackson, Sr (3) 16:59/10:14/4:37
Pat Wagner, Jr 17:49
Charlie Mangan, Sr (9) 18:23/2:07
Eli Kravinski, Sr (13) 18:53
Caleb Limmer, Sr 19:03

District 1 A really excelled last year at the state championships. They had two top 11 individual finishers and their team champs, Jenkintown, placed 6th overall. This year, Jenkintown will look to duplicate the feat, returning their top 2 medalists and a solid pack behind them. They can definitely be a top 5 team in the state this upcoming season, but they will need to improve the pack and replenish the gap at the #3 spot left by the graduation of Jamail Kahn.

Meanwhile, Dock Mennonite returns their entire top 5 including defending district champion Tim Kennel. They will need to improve their back end depth if they are going to compete with Jenkintown. At the very least, they should provide good motivation for Jenkintown to keep focused this season. If things break right, they could be the team heading to Hershey hoping to crack the top 5.

District 2
Abington Heights (1st D2, 19th States)
Dan Uhranowsky, Sr (3) 16:55/4:22/1:58
Kyle Burke, Sr (1) 16:45/9:41/4:20
Ryan Siebecker, Jr (11) 18:04/10:48
Adam Traweek, Sr (18) 18:30
Ethan Mattox, Jr (9) 18:00
Thomas Kerrigan, Sr (17) 18:29
Stephen Haggerty, Jr 10:52

The boys from Abington Heights are getting a nice bit of hype right now and they deserve it. The often overlooked District 2 scene has produced its fair share of medalists and top teams, including a 6th place squad back in 2010. Abington Heights returns their top 2 runners who are coming off terrific track seasons and then bring back a good pack behind them. However, I’m not yet convinced they are the best team in their own district – Wallenpaupack returns their top 5 and could potentially add Tyler Wirth to the equation (based on literally no evidence, I think we will see him on the trails this year). I’m a big fan of the 1-2 punch for Abington Heights and honestly believe one of those top two will finish as a state medalist in the fall (currently betting on Burke), but this district will be no walkover. At least one of their 3-5 guys is going to have to make a big step forward if this team wants to break into the top 10-12 in AAA.

Dallas (1st D2, 1st States)
Jack Zardecki, Sr (2) 16:14/9:22
Josh Wyandt, Sr (19) 16:53/10:23/4:37
Adam Borton, Sr (13) 16:58/4:45/2:03
Mitchell Rome, Jr (6) 16:43/10:01
Steven Postupak, Jr (15) 17:18
Josh Jarden, Sr (16) 17:20

There will be plenty of time to talk about Dallas during the season. This is the culmination of a three (arguably four) year run of excellence that could lead to 3 straight titles. They bring basically everybody back (although shout out to Jason Culp who was a critical piece of their success) and it seems like everyone is on the rise after a strong track season. They still aren’t a lock (York Suburban looks like they will be great again), but they are certainly the favorites for a 3 peat.

Holy Reedemer (2nd D2, 10th States)
Bryce Zapusek, Jr (7) 16:47/10:26
Lucas Volpetti, Jr (9) 16:55/4:35
Scott Williams, Sr (27) 17:48/4:46
Dominic Capaci, Jr (23) 17:37/2:00
George Strish, Jr (47) 18:31/10:47
Connor Stevens, Sr 18:30/10:31
Nick Pikul, So 18:44

I’m a big fan of this Holy Redeemer squad. I think District 2 is the best individual district in in AA and they return two guys who were top 10 last year, including near state medal Bryce Zapusek. On the track, HR ran 8:02 in the 4x8 for 4th at states with a relay that appeared to include both stand out sophomores Lucas Volpetti and Dominic Capaci. Those three juniors should create a nice core to go alongside Scott Williams. I expect this team to return to the state championships for a second straight year. That being said, teams like Tunkhannock (2013 state champs), Berwick (barely lost out on the last spot to Redeemer last year) and Scranton Prep (a powerhouse) will be lurking.

Montrose (1st D2, 5th States)
Brandon Curely, Sr (2) 4:33/16:48/15:56 (3 Mile)
Max Brewer, Jr (11) 17:49/10:38
Liam Mead, Jr (8) 17:22/4:41/10:54
Jerome Washo, Sr (10) 17:31
Eric Bixby, Jr 17:48
Colin Spellman, Jr 17:51
Nick Coy, So 18:18/10:41

I was on the Montrose bandwagon big time last year. I honestly believed they could have given Winchester Thurston a run for their money if they raced perfectly and the title favorites faltered. However, Montrose had a couple missteps and had to settle for a very closely fought 5th place finish. Still a fantastic result, but perhaps leaving a sour taste in their mouth as they were just 29 points out of the medals. This year, Montrose returns four guys from that squad (although they lose perhaps their best two) who are hungry and determined to improve on last season’s result. In a perfect scenario, Brewer and Mead can step right into the spots their brothers graduated from and they can pull from one of the deepest JV squads in A to reload the back part of their varsity. I still these guys as contenders for team medals.

Elk Lake (2nd D2)
Cody Oswald, Sr (5) 16:56/50.86
Peyton Jones, Jr (6) 17:11/10:19
Brett Carney, Sr (23) 18:14
Devin Bennett, Jr (24) 19:05
Kale Decker, Jr (39) 19:55
David Lamoreaux, Jr 19:12

Elk Lake is an excellent program that has produced state championship level teams year in and year out. But they get a tough draw against Montrose. With only one spot up for grabs, Elk Lake is going to have to bring their “A” game to knock off the defending champions. Cody Oswald and Peyton Jones are great (42nd and 41st at states) and I think one of them could break out and become a medalist. They have a solid pack behind them, but will need to be better than solid to topple Montrose.

District 4
NE Bradford (1st D4, 4th States)
Zak Smith, Jr (6) 17:21
Nate Mosier, Sr (10) 17:44/10:34
Aaron Boss, Sr (34) 18:50/17:54 (3 Mile)
Tyler Devonshire, Sr 18:30/17:29 (3 Mile)
Destine Moore, Jr (15) 18:17/17:26 (3 Mile)
Dusty Cook, Jr 19:08

Northeast Bradford has owned the A District 4 classification since it was created. In 2012 they won the team title and every year since they’ve been hovering around the conversation. Last year, they took 4th overall with two state medalists. Those medalists are gone as is #4 runner Austin Senn-Bishop, but there are enough names still around to indicate Bradford will still be a tough test. Zak Smith really came on strong at the end of last season and I like his potential to jump into the top 25 this year. After that, it’s a strong group with a nice pack. I’ve seen this team win with pack running and front running before so it’s hard to doubt them, but they will need bring their “A” game to stay ahead of the hungry team behind them.

Southern Columbia (2nd D4)
Ethan Knoebel, Jr (3) 16:25/4:27y/2:00
Nicholas Kuzo, Sr (4) 17:29
Jacob Petro, Jr (13) 17:30
Reese Houseknecht, Jr (20) 17:42
Brady Reese, So (23) 18:06/10:30
Eli Yemzow, Sr (38) 19:15

Southern Columbia is a great squad that, unfortunately, had to stay home last year during state weekend. This squad had the potential to be a top 5 team last year considering they bested Jenkintown, Cranberry, Elk Lake and Penns Valley at the Foundation Invite. But a tough match up with NEB left most of the squad home besides their excellent 1-2 punch of Ethan Knoebel and Nick Kuzo. Knoebel is coming off a terrific track season and entering his junior year. That could mean he becomes a superstar. Brady Reese, a rising sophomore with big talent, is a name to watch as well. I think he could make a jump.

This match up should be one of the most exciting of district week. Whichever teams wins will be a must watch at states.


Milton Area (1st D4, 14th States)
Tyler Leeser, Sr (2) 16:39/9:37/4:16/1:55
Seth Kendall, Sr (4) 17:10/2:03
Kellan Guinn-Bailey, Jr (9) 17:43/10:42
Tanner Walter, So (27) 18:13/10:29
Nick Doresky, Sr (18) 17:40/10:15
Colton Aikey, Sr (32) 18:07
Noah Stamm, Sr (58) 19:31
Colton Loreman, So 10:32

I like this Milton squad. I think they got strong experience last year building confidence on the Hershey course on two occasions. They ran the foundation meet there in September and averaged 18:10 for 13th place. When they returned in November, they finished 14th overall with an average of 18:02. That improvement curve was in line with state runner-ups York Suburban and better than some of the other top 10 teams. Tyler Leeser has made the jump from great to amazing in the past year and he will hopefully be an inspiration and motivator for the guys behind him. Seth Kendall has the potential to be a great #2 and really came on strong toward the end of the year. If he figures out the Hershey hills this year, he could be a top 40 guy and really transform this team.

Others: Loyalsock (4th D10) returns entire top 7 including Quinn Serfass (defending champ) and Ryan Sullivan (multi-time state qualifier). Will potentially have 6 seniors in top 7, but will need to develop pack. Rising sophomore Alex Reed could be one to watch. Warrior Run (6th D10) returns entire top 7 including 3 freshman and 2 sophomores. Warrior Run also had the top finisher in the Lewisburg Middle School Classic in Caden Dufrene. On the track, they placed 8th in the state running 8:04 for the 4x8 last spring. You can never count Lewisburg (2nd D10) although they lose a lot of firepower.

District 6
Penns Valley (1st D6, 9th States)
Chris Colwell, Sr (1) 16:41/10:11/4:42
Mark Bierly, Sr (2) 16:58/10:23
Sam Gray, Sr (6) 17:26/10:23/4:37
Charlie Romig, Sr (15) 17:55
Haden Stamm, Sr (26) 18:36
Everett VanHeyst, Jr (85) 20:37

I’m high on Penns Valley going into this year. It’s always tough to knock off the traditional powerhouses at the top of the A standings, but Penns Valley has been steadily climbing the latter towards elite status over the past three seasons. They cracked the top 10 last year and even got a state medalist in Chris Colwell. I think their top 3 is excellent, definitely good enough to be a top 5 team in the state. The pressure will be on the #4 and especially #5 spot. These guys are all seniors who have grown together and chased this dream. It would be cool to see that journey end with some team medals.

Others: Purchase Line returns their top two from a state qualifying team last year and is coming off a track season that included an 8:03 run in the 4x800. Micah Kurka and Alex Boring lead that squad along with rising sophomore Hunter Antisdel. Kurka was 48th at states a year ago.

Central Cambria (1st D6, 16th States)
Ohm Vyas, Jr (4) 17:07/10:38
Nate Kuntz, So (6) 17:08
Duncan Lambie, Jr (8) 17:31
Tyler Wilson, Sr (23) 17:11/10:26/4:43
Zach Brandis, So (11) 16:57/10:39
Alex Jeffers, Sr (18) 18:01
Ike Haycisak, So 18:25

Central Cambria was a fascinating team prior to the state meet last year after dominating the District 6 championships with a young core and a tight spread. However, they had trouble translating that to the state finals and finished just 16th. This year, they bring back almost everyone including two rising sophomores and two rising juniors. They have 4 guys back who were top 11 in the district last year before even starting their junior season. I want to see this pack in action before I jump though too far up my theoretical rankings, but I’m confident this squad will continue to improve. Really, I’d just like to see one of their guys break out and hit another level as a top 50 type individual. That will transform this unit into something special.

State College (1st D6, 7th States)
Owen Isham, Jr (3) 16:25/9:51
Sam Horn, Sr (11) 17:40/10:29
Joe Messner, Jr 17:45/10:48
Mitchell Etter, Sr 16:44/9:27/4:34

It’s hard to underestimate State College. They were a top 5 team in the state in 2013 and, when they looked fairly average at times, came through with a clutch run at states to take 7th last year. With 3 top 10 finishes in 4 years (with that non-top 10 finish at 11th), this team has proven they are force to be reckoned with. But, they took a sizable hit to graduation for a second straight season with 4 of their top 6 and two of their very good top 3 coming off the board. Owen Isham and a healthy Mitchell Etter will fill the front-running void quite nicely, but the pack will need to be strong if State College is going to hold on to a top 10 team spot at states.

Mifflin County (2nd D6)
Chayce Macknair, Jr (4) 16:41/9:33/4:23
Chase Sheaffer, So (6) 16:59
Seth Phillips, Jr (7) 16:55/1:55
Dylan Unger, Sr (15) 17:43/10:35
Garren Wolfgang, Sr (17) 17:07/1:59

State College has emerged as the power in this district, taking the mantle from Altoona. However, like all great dynasties, there is always a challenger waiting to topple them. This year, it looks like it will be Mifflin County. MC returns three sub 17 guys and two breakout stars in Chayce Macknair and Seth Phillips. Those two both qualified for states individually on the track and really impressed me. This squad is still on the younger side (top 3 are juniors and a soph), but they can’t wait around for the chance to seize the district title. The key will be seniors Unger and Wolfgang. If Wolfgang can become a consistent sub 17 guy, I think Mifflin County is going to be special.

District 9
Elk County Catholic (1st D9, 2nd States)
Ben Hoffman, So 17:15/16:17 (3 Mile)/10:00/4:43
Matt Dippold, Sr 17:20/16:13 (3 Mile)/9:53/4:38
Isaac Wortman, So 17:20/16:18 (3 Mile)
Logan Hoffman, Sr 16:56/15:49 (3 Mile)/10:26/4:40
Sam Wolfe, Sr 19:38/10:33
Jacob Carnovale, Jr 11:02/4:45

Elk County Catholic held on over the final mile in a hotly contested battle for 2nd in the state last year. Ultimately, it was a big move from their freshman Ben Hoffman that helped them hold off 4x8 powerhouse Seneca. Now Hoffman will have to make the jump from pack guy to potential #1 low stick as Zach Wortman graduates. The rest of the team’s scoring 5 will return and has the potential to be really good yet again. Maybe even state championship level good. I think each member of their top 4 has the chance to be a medalist by seasons end. Logan Hoffman has run 15:49 for 3 miles and was 28th at 2 miles at last year’s championships. He is their #4 returner. This team just needs to develop a #5 who can deliver them a strong performance and keep their score from blowing up. They have a couple interesting JV guys in Sam Wolfe and Jacob Carnovale who could be names to watch this season. I’m very high on this team for 2017.

Smethport (3rd D9)
Christian Tanner, Jr (5) 16:49/15:59 (3 Mile)/4:36/2:01
Darion Gregory, Jr (6) 17:14/10:12/4:46/16:25 (3 Mile)
Eric Szarowicz, Jr (43) 18:58
Ethan Nannen, So (48) 19:05/18:03 (3 Mile)

Smethport is a fun team. They are very young with a projected top four that includes only rising juniors and a sophomore, but they have two outstanding front runners in Tanner and Gregory. Those guys will be the 2 to beat at Districts next year as the top names graduate. Can this squad develop the back end of their line-up enough to hold off Kane and Cranberry. If they do, they could have a very similar finish to Cranberry’s 2016 team that took 8th in A.

Others: Kane returns their entire top 6 from last year’s championships. They will need to establish a front runner (their top guy, Shaw, was just 19th overall last year), but they have a couple seniors and some young guns with potential to improve. Kane was 4th overall last year and will be hoping to plunge into that top 2 in this strong district.

Punxsutawney (1st D9, 17th States)
Owen Bartlebaugh, So (2) 17:44/10:36/4:48
Ethan Brentham, Jr (1) 17:36/10:21/4:47
Corbin Heitzenrater, So (11) 18:55
Liam Storms, Sr (15) 19:17
Ethan May, Jr (20) 19:23/11:16
Matt Wehrle, Sr 1:59/4:51

Bradford (2nd D9)
Vinnie Bizzarro, Jr (4) 17:06/2:04
Cade Hayden, Sr (5) 17:26/10:51
Logan Caruso, Sr (6) 16:55/9:52/4:29
Andrew Kraft, So (7) 17:53/10:48
J. Daniel Fedak, Jr (14) 18:53/17:48 (3 Mile)
David Allen, Jr (17) 19:36/18:14 (3 Mile)
Dominic Cary, So 19:30
Tyler Kraft, So 2:06

The District 9 AA battle should come down to two very familiar teams. Punxsutawney enters as the defending champions. They are led by individual champ Ethan Brentham and break out freshman performer Owen Bartlebaugh. Those two make for a terrific 1-2 punch. After that, the pack will need to continue to progress, but the pieces are there. It will be interesting to see if Matt Wehrle, who ran 1:59 last spring, comes out for the XC team and gives them a lift in their scoring 5.

Punxsutawney’s old rival Bradford will be ready for the challenge. They took 4th through 7th last year with three returners. They return their entire top 7 and are hungry to reclaim the district title. You have to like this pack and you certainly have to be excited about the prospect of two time XC district champ Logan Caruso returning to full health. He started to hit his stride toward the end of outdoors and could be a real challenge for the Groundhogs’ top 2.

District 10
Harbor Creek (1st D10, 4th States)
Ryan Stravaggi, Jr (2) 16:23/4:26
Aiden Weber, Jr (3) 16:26/10:03
Christian Babo, Sr (8) 16:37
Nolan Weber, So (38) 18:13
Nate Dougan, Sr (70) 17:48/10:37
Caleb Mandel, Jr 18:14/4:49

Harbor Creek was an incredibly interesting team last year. They have 3 state medalists and 4 top 50 finishers, a truly elite group of runners. However, they had to settle for 4th at states as they ran into some terrific teams at the front end and were edged out via the #5 spot against others. It could potentially be a similar story this year for the district champs. They return all 3 of those medalists (two of which were sophomores) and have a crop of potential talents to give them a lift on the back end of the scorers. I think Noal Weber could be quite strong this year. He was 38th in the loaded D10 as just a freshman and helped the team clinch their District 10 with his performance. He should really benefit from an extra year of training and experience, especially on those Hershey hills.

I think this team has all the pieces to contend for the top 5 again. They may even be better in 2017 then they were in 2016. However, they are peaking at the wrong time. District 10 AA is absolutely loaded as a ton of teams return a lot of talent. And then forecasting ahead to states, essentially all the top programs return 4 or 5 guys who are doing incredible running. Let’s see how Harbor Creek handles the pressure of repeating their championship efforts.

General McLane (2nd D10, 6th States)
Erik Andrzejewski, Jr (4) 16:56/9:41/4:31
Nate Price, Jr (6) 16:43/9:38/4:28
Simon Zehr, Jr (23) 17:46
Nick Halmi, Jr (60) 17:56

Gotta say, General McLane made me a fan last year. They did some clutch running, took down some big scalps and ended up going on to take 6th at states. Their top two, Erik Andrzejewski and Nate Price, are rising juniors with a ton of talent. I think these two have a ton of potential (they are just stuck in a loaded class that also includes the Harbor Creek 1-2 and Jonah Powell … and that’s just in their district). If General McLane wants to repeat their incredible stretch run in 2017, they will need to find guys behind those 2 that can make an impact. Two other rising juniors in Simon Zehr and Nick Halmi will be tasked with the job.

Grove City (3rd D10)
Tyler Quinn, Sr (15) 17:34
Jonah Powell, Jr (17) 16:14/4:22/9:49/2:00
Mason Murray, So (21) 17:50
Luke Owrey, Jr (25) 17:34/10:04/4:45
Joe Somora, So 17:58
Ben Jones, Sr 4:41/10:19/18:30

Grove City is a terrific program with a long history of success. But last year the powerhouse was stunned in the District qualifiers, taking 3rd place behind General McLane and having to stay home from the state championships. The good news? The top 4 guys at districts were all returners and pretty much all had strong days for themselves at districts. Jonah Powell is a star and although he had a hiccup last year, should be back with a vengeance this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the individual district and state champion this fall considering his progress on the track and his XC credentials to date. I also like some of their up and coming talent. Luke Owrey looked very strong as a sophomore last year and Ben Jones showed consistent improvement during the spring. I’m expecting this team to rally together a redemption squad and get back to states where they have been 5th, 2nd, 5th and 2nd in the years before last.

Fairview (4th D10)
Jamison Cook, Jr (12) 16:54
Jerrod Nelson, Sr (13) 17:32/10:14/4:48
Cole Pollock, Sr (33) 17:58
Max Myers, Jr (36) 18:32
Jacob Shultz, Sr (37) 18:28
Wes Good, Jr (55) 19:01
Tim Kill, Jr (77) 18:38

I wanted to give Fairview a quick shout out. They’ve got a lot of talent coming back, a strong pack and a potential breakout star or two out front. They will have some work to do if they are going to catch any of the schools in the top 3, but we saw an upset last year so I don’t think we should count them out. If they do advance, I think we have seen enough evidence the past few years that the top schools in District 10 are top 10 teams in the state, knocking on the door of top 5 if they peak right.

Seneca (1st D10, 3rd States)
Robert Stepnowski, Sr (20) 17:46/10:35
Jake Schneider, Jr (29) 17:36/2:03
Brock Smith, So (36) 17:46/10:30
Nick Post, Sr (31) 17:38/10:31
Alex Hopson, So 19:09
Matt Zajac, So 19:16

Seneca has cemented themselves as a top 10 program in the state over the past 4 seasons. Of course, that was in large part thanks to the now graduated Myers twins who have been elite athletes since their arrival at the school. With Myers, Myers and Hanes out the door, it’s finally time for the next generation to rise to the occasion and try and keep Seneca’s title in house. It won’t be easy, but they return a crop of four guys who seem poised to carry on the legacy. Schneider likely learned a lot from his training with the 4x8 crew this past spring and is coming off a pretty nice season for himself. Stepnowski, rising sophomore Brock Smith and Nick Post all have personal bests that indicate they can be top 15-20 guys in the district this fall. But is that enough? D10 A has consistently produced top 10 teams and has had individual title contenders as well. I’d say Seneca is still among the favorites, but it’s going to be crowded at the top.

Reynolds (5th D10)
Troy Hart, So (16) 17:33/10:21
Dylan Forrester, Sr (24) 16:59/2:03
Garrett Duffy, Sr (32) 18:27
Corey Thompson, Sr (39) 18:29
Adam Wilcox, So (66) 18:36
Nick Gill, Sr (106) 18:58

This Reynolds team was very solid last year and return their core for ‘17. Troy Hart was terrific as a freshman last year. I think Dylan Forrester could be a top 10 guy this season as well. They are built a lot like Seneca with a nice pack and some strong potential, but they will need to be better than that if they want a state spot. Watch for Adam Wilcox this year as a sleeper to emerge as a key piece for this squad.

Lakeview (9th D10)
Zac Tingley, Sr (4) 16:33/10:17/1:59
Carson Kyko, So (51) 18:45
Tyler Lightcap, Sr (57) 19:28
Logan Hogue, Jr (63) 17:48/10:29
Joe Grim, Jr (65) 18:54

Zac Tingley is an excellent runner who has program changing potential. When you have a guy of his caliber leading the way and inspiring his teammates, that can left your school to the next level. He will provide the low stick potential and the rest of this top 5 will just need to fill in the pieces, racing with essentially a man advantage. The pack will have to get better (they were just 9th last year), but I think they definitely can. Keep an eye on Logan Hogue who I think may end up being one of the best #2 runners in the district.

Others: Cochranton (7th D10) returns their entire top 7 including last year’s 8th place finisher Noah Bernarding. What makes this team a must watch is the fact that their returners are all either rising sophomores or rising juniors. That could mean this team has big upside. Even with that young core, Cochranton had 4 guys under 17:45 at Sharpsville last fall. West Middlesex (2nd D10, 7th States) was a big surprise to me last year when they made states over established powers Mercyhurst and North East. They return a talented big three in Luke Mantzell and the Chlpka boys who will be sophomores and juniors respectively in 2017. Those are their only varsity returners, but they have some younger pieces like Joey Varga who could potentially add another dimension to their line up.

Freshman will likely play a big role in this district (and others). Keep in mind that West Middlesex got a huge boost from their freshman in Mantzell, who they needed to get to states. We can’t predict which freshmen will show up in 2017 (for the most part) so there’s still a lot up in the air, even for the best programs. D10 A should be a wild ride this year.

District 11
Notre Dame GP (1st Districts, 9th States)
John Koons, Jr (2) 17:02/16:04 3 Mile
Anthony Pacchioli, Sr (6) 17:05
Charlie Hohl, Sr (17) 17:49/51.51
Sheamus Hammerstone, Sr (13) 17:14/10:16/4:40
Aeron Meilinger, Sr (46) 18:38/17:16 3 Mile
Joe Gubernot, Jr (49) 18:46/11:18

Notre Dame Green Pond had a nice day at states. Their #1 runner, sophomore John Koons, took 25th overall and earned a state medal. Then, thanks to a nice team run, NDGP finished 9th overall in the team standings. Considering they bring back 6 varsity runners (including 4 top 20 finishers from districts), it’s hard not to see them as a potential top 5 team in the state. The x-factor here could be Sheamus Hammerstone. When I look at a team, I usually jump to their top 3 first and Hammerstone could be a great #3 for this school. Another interesting piece is Charlie Hohl who was a 400 meter runner during track but had one of his best races of the year at states on the Hershey hills. It’s a talented bunch.

Parkland (1st D11, 17th States)
Nicholas Bower, Jr (12) 16:37/9:54
Sam Morgan, Sr (3) 16:31/4:21/2:00
Riley Williamson, Jr (8) 1:59/4:33/16:47
Jacob Ringer, Sr (27) 17:18/1:58
Nathan Rode, Sr 17:28/10:15

Parkland knows how to make it to states. They know how to compete for district titles. And so far, they’ve developed a nice group of talent to try and continue their streak of excellence. Sam Morgan, the 3rd place finisher and top returner from districts, is an experienced winner who can lead this squad from the front. Nicholas Bower made big steps in 2016 and broke 10 minutes on the track. Riley Williamson and Jacob Ringer are both sub 2 guys. And we know this team is deep. They tend to show up with an army to XC meets. And yet, in a rare turn, Parkland doesn’t have favorite status for this year’s district championship. Let’s see if they run with a chip on their shoulder this fall.

Southern Lehigh (2nd D11, 18th States)
Colin Cramer, Sr (17) 17:00/9:33/4:36
Raahi Klar-Chaudhari, Sr (16) 16:58/10:29
Thomas Matsumura, Sr (7) 16:44/9:39/4:23
Corey Welsh, Jr (9) 16:47/10:01/4:44
Alex Fillman, Jr (36) 17:55/2:03

Southern Lehigh has emerged as a potential top 10 team in the state. They absolutely stunned me at districts last year with a really impressive bit of pack running. Since then, they’ve continued to put on a show with strong results from Colin Cramer and Thomas Matsumura on the track. That 1-2 punch makes this team dangerous on not just the district level, but also the state level. Lehigh reminds me a bit of the Freedom teams that rose up in District 11 in recent years, riding a nice pack with some talented individuals to a position where they could challenge the best in district and contend for a top 10 spot. Hopefully everyone stays healthy and continues to improve.

District 12
Masterman (1st D12, 15th States)
Dan Bici, Sr (2) 17:36/10:01/4:30
Stephen Njiru, Jr (5) 18:53/10:30
Isaac Colon, Sr 19:05/10:28
Noah Bradley, So (11) 19:15
Darren Chen, Sr (9) 19:24
David Lawrence, Sr (4) 18:58/4:55

Masterman is typically dominant on the D12 A stage and with a group of 6 coming back from their state line up, it seems likely they will take gold yet again. But the bigger goal for this squad should be to contend on a state level. Their top 3 is coming along well as Bici had a monster track season while Nijiru and Colon impressed me as well. David Lawerence was a top 4 guy in the district last year so he can clearly be a contributor on a good team. That’s plenty of pieces for Masterman to make a run and get back into the top 10 teams in the state.

LaSalle (1st D12, 5th States)
Vincent Twomey, So (7) 16:59/4:29
Ethan Maher, So (15) 17:18/10:09
Evan Addison, Sr (1) 16:18/4:17y/1:54/9:24/8:46
Sean Egan, Sr 17:38/9:50
Jack Seiberlich, Jr 18:04/4:35y
Matthew Zilligen, Jr 18:00/4:28y

O’Hara (2nd D12, 13th States)
Jack Becker, Sr (12) 16:51/10:04
Tom McNicholas, Sr (27) 17:43/10:09
Josh Hayes, Jr 17:55
Derek Sacks, Sr 18:04/4:48y

LaSalle and O’Hara could be on this list even if you didn’t know any of their returners. The coaching and the sustained excellence have given them the benefit of the doubt. However, both teams will be fighting up-hill battles in 2017. LaSalle lost a ton of seniors including consistent varsity performers like Brendan Price and Stephen Paul. In fact, their only two returners from the 5k at states are rising sophomores. However, they have Evan Addison, defending district champion, to lead the charge and provide a low stick while up and comers Matthew Zilligen and Jack Seiberlich could factor into the varsity equation. LaSalle was pretty darn deep last year and even if most of their core are gone, I trust them to restock.

O’Hara has been one of the best teams in the state for almost a decade, but this year could finally be the one where they take a step back. They graduated arguably their best four runners from 2016 and are running out of links to the O’Hara squads that posted 5 straight top 3 finishes at states from 2010 to 2014. Jack Becker had a strong season last year when he got the chance to be a consistent part of the varsity squad and I like the track season McNicholas put together. But they will need some JV guys to step up like others have before them and make mini leaps to get toward elite status. On this team, it seems very possible. We’ve seen guys like Rob Morro and Gavin Inglis make big leaps to become top 30 types at states and O’Hara has posted 22 top 50 finishers at states since joining the PIAA in 2008 (21 of those have come since 2010) and 14 top 25 finishers (all since 2010). Let’s see if they can build on their legacy and surprise me with a huge 2017 season and a return to the state’s top 10. 

District 3 XC Returners Cheat Sheet

With the District One and District Seven Cheat Sheets already in the books, let’s take a look at your District 3 edition. As a reminder, these are not rankings. It’s just a sheet to remind everyone what some key teams return and give some preliminary thoughts. This is to help each of you come up with your own rankings for the 51-49 team rankings that we will hopefully be throwing together as a team at the end of this month!


Carlisle (2016: 1st, 2015: 3rd)
Jack Wisner, Jr: 16:24 (24), 1:56/4:24y/10:08
Bryce Dunkelberger, Jr: 17:17 (71), 17:15/10:23
Caleb Padgett, Jr: 17:32 (107)
Jacob Morris, Jr: 10:24/17:36
Caleb Van Grouw, Jr: 17:41
Trent Balestri, Jr: 10:11/18:10
Casey Padgett, So: 10:02/19:33

Carlisle was a good team before the Affolders came along, and they will continue to be a good team after they have left. However, it’s an uphill battle for the Herd after losing varsity scorers like Kole and Fiorentino in addition to the Affolders this June. Considering this team wasn’t, on paper, incredibly deep during XC, one might think these guys are in danger of slipping out of the state qualifying picture. However, they return a strong front running presence in Jack Wisner and a ton of juniors right alongside him. They have a really nice crew of guys in the 10:00-10:20 range for 3200 with a number of potential breakout stars who are making the sophomore to junior jump (or freshman to sophomore jump for Casey Padgett). This team has a chance to make a nice run in 2017 and perhaps be back in title contention by 2018.

Lower Dauphin (2016: 2nd, 2015: 9th)
Jared Giannascoli, Sr: 16:04 (8), 15:52/2:01/4:28
Mark Walsh, So: 16:30 (29), 9:59/4:32
Josiah Helmer, Jr: 17:28 (97), 10:04/17:26
Miles Book, Jr: 18:01/4:51
Hunter Lohmann, So: 18:19
Steven Schankweiler, Sr: 2:00/4:30

Like Carlisle a year ago, Lower Dauphin got a big left from a great top 3. While they don’t graduate everyone from that core, losing Kyler Shea and Colton Cassel is a big hit to this team’s foundation. They have been consistent low sticks since their sophomore year. So now this team needs to find a way to replenish their front running while continuing to build up their depth. My guess is Mark Walsh breaks out big time. I could see this guy challenging the 16 minute barrier and competing for a top 50 spot at states as he works with Giannascoli. But after that, they need some guys to step up. Helmer is experienced and has run some nice marks, but a newcomer will have to emerge from off the radar if this team is going to stay in the state qualifying picture.

Mechanicsburg (2016: 3rd, 2015: 12th)
Morgan Cupp, Sr: 15:50 (5), 15:36/9:32/4:23
Brandan Knepper, Jr: 16:36 (32), 9:53
Michael Vigliano, Jr: 17:33 (109), 16:33/4:41
Shay Rounsville, Sr: 17:48 (129), 17:41/2:02
Enoch Marzano, So: 18:23 (193), 18:17
Julian Bosley, Jr: 18:16
Alex Knepper, So: 18:26

Mechanicsburg was one of the pleasant surprises of last season. I was super high on them coming in and this upset special came through at Big Spring, punching a ticket to states with a 3rd place finish. Two of the key pieces to that magical run are gone as Alex Tomasko and Andrew Sulon graduate, but they do have a low stick in Morgan Cupp and a top sleeper pick in Brandan Knepper. Knepper was absolutely killing it toward the end of the season and was a top 80 or so runner in AAA at states. As just a sophomore. Michael Vigliano has also shown flashes of brilliance with a 16:33 PR from Carlisle last year. That’s a nice top 3 if everything comes together, but will they have the depth needed to contend with some of these powerhouse programs. Like many teams at this stage in the game, that’s where the question marks are.

Manheim Central (2016: 4th, 2015: N/A, less than 5 finishers)
David Merkey, Sr: 16;51 (45), 16:36
Carson Hepner, Jr: 17:13 (65), 10:21
Connor Sylvester, So: 18:16 (178)
Isaac Martin, So: 19:00
Luke Weaver, So: 19:19

If Mechanicsburg was a surprise, we need to invent a new word to describe Manheim Central’s rise through the ranks. After not even scoring 5 runners at districts in 2015, MC took home the 4th and final state qualifying spot over powerhouses like Cumberland Valley, Hershey and Hempfield. But they took a huge hit to their front running with 3 of their big 4 graduating. David Merkey is a solid runner (and a clutch performer), but he’s going to need some help this year if Manheim Central wants to repeat their successes of a year ago. The spotlight will shine on three rising sophomores with a lot of potential to grow in this on the rise program.

Cumberland Valley (2016: 5th, 2015: 2nd)
Andrew Brown, Sr: 16:41 (35), 16:15/9:57/4:27
Devon Heisler, Sr: 17:00 (55), 16:45/10:14
Bennett Brown, Sr: 17:21 (79), 17:16/10:14
Caleb Schultz, Sr: 16:49/1:58/4:41
Nick DeMario, Jr: 16:58
Jesse St. Cyr, So: 17:27/10:41
Matt Todd, Jr: 17:30

Even in a season where it seemed bad luck was being tossed on them at every turn, Cumberland Valley still finished the season just 2 points away from a state qualifying appearance. They lose some strong pieces to graduation, including some 16 guys Soliman and Higgins, but they return a deep core of sub 17 runners. Andrew Brown is a terrific runner who has emerged as a top runner in D3 while CV has a nice pack of options to slot in behind him. I expect this school to contend not just for a state qualifying spot this year, but also a district title.

Hershey (2016: 7th, 2015: 6th)
Andrew Sullivan, Sr: 16:12 (11), 4:21/9:35/15:52
Mike Morris, Jr: 16:20 (21)
Casey Sisco, Sr: 17:05 (58), 16:59/10:35
Raphael Abadilla, Sr: 17:25 (92), 16:32/10:13
Gavazzi Patrick, Jr: 18:02 (156), 17:29
Ethan Rogers, So: 17:26/10:31
Luke Sheppard, So: 4:48

Hershey has been knocking on the door of a state qualifying birth the past few seasons, but has not quite been able to put it together at the district meet when the pressure is on. That’s been the story for plenty of other teams in the past and plenty of those other teams ended up pulling through and punching that ticket before all was said and done. This could be the year for Hershey as their top 2 is as good as anybody’s with Andrew Sullivan and Mike Morris ready to lead the way. They also return multiple other sub 17 guys with a couple young sophomores in Rogers and Sheppard who could make noise. Things are looking fairly wide open in District 3 this year. Although it’s very crowded with great teams, few have emerged as truly elite. Hershey could be one of the breakout squads this season if everything clicks.

Hempfield (2016: 8th, 2015: 1st)
Christian Groff, Sr: 16:18 (17), 15:54/4:26
Max Lessans, Sr: 16:30 (30), 16:26/10:02
Ryan Farmer, Sr: 17:09 (63), 16:54/10:07
Justin Rittenhouse, Jr: 17:25
Grayson Dague, So: 17:49

Hempfield won district titles in 2014 and 2015 but was stunned out of the state qualifying picture during a wild 2016 championships. Despite that fact, the top tier program still qualified 3 individuals for the state championships, two of which are returning this fall. Christian Groff and Max Lessans join Ryan Farmer as sub 17 returners. However, Hempfield lost a good chunk of their elite depth to graduation in 2017. That means some JV runners like Justin Rittenhouse will need to step up into the starting five. This is a great program that peaks well and runs clutch. I’m excited to see how they cultivate the back half of their varsity squad as they look for redemption at districts.

Twin Valley (2016: 9th, 2015: 5th)
Chase Knorr, Sr: 16:33 (31), 9:56/4:37
Garrett Knorr, Sr: 16:55 (50), 16:37/10:01/4:39
Griffin Schlegel, So: 16:57 (51), 16:29/10:06
Dylan Servis, Jr: 17:08 (62), 16:34/10:18/4:42i
Trey Hill, Jr: 18:18 (183), 17:18/4:40/2:02i
Nick Mandis, So: 18:18
Jacob Reyher, So: 17:46

Definitely the most intriguing team on the list. Twin Valley is an excellent program that qualified for states in 2013 and 2014. After graduating all of their core, TV almost made it back to states in 2015, taking 5th. What’s been wild about this team is that, despite rarely having an elite front runner, the pack has always lifted this team to excellent results. This year is expected to be now different as they quietly return 4 sub 17 minute runners, a pack of 4:40/10:20 types and some young guys with room to grow. Don’t sleep on Twin Valley to make a run this year.

Some quick hits:

Manheim Township
Evan Dorenkamp, Jr: 16:22/4:23y/1:58
Tim Antonacci, Sr: 17:24/10:32
Josh Long, Sr: 17:30
Jarrid McKenzie, Sr: 18:05
Riley Horton, So: 18:18
Gavin Maurer, Sr – 2:01/4:51
Ian Miller, Jr – 4:35/9:44

If Manheim Township can get Ian Miller on the cross country alongside Evan Dorenkamp, this squad will have a very formidable 1-2 punch. They return a lot of key cogs, but they were outside the top 20 overall teams in 2016. I like this team and their sleeper potential, but they won’t start the season super high in any preseason polls.

Cedar Crest
Adam Wolfe, Sr 16:32/10:08
Jake Barrett, Jr 9:53/16:54
Will Sheffield, So 16:59
Josh Rudd, Sr 10:10/17:10
Noah Bragunier, Sr 17:05/10:25

The always dangerous Cedar Crest squad loses their top dog in Jesse Cruise, but returns 3 sub 17 runners behind him. Jake Barrett had an excellent track season, clocking a 9:53 for 33200 and rising sophomore Will Sheffield is yet another member of the class of 2020 with big upside.

Wilson (4th in 2015, 6th in 2016) is always lurking as a state qualifying contender, but they’ve lost a good chunk of their front running behind super star Jake Underwood. Cocalico returns a nice core of young talent and should add back in Kreider (4:29/9:50/16:39) to the equation in 2017. He’s a real game changing presence from not just a points perspective, but also a training perspective.

York Suburban (2016: 1st, 2015: 1st)
Bryce Ohl, Sr: 16:40 (2), 4:33
Jarrett Raudenski, Jr: 16:40 (3), 4:41/2:00
Josh Kerr, Sr: 17:01 (11), 10:31
Tanner Haynes, Sr: 17:02 (13), 4:42
Scott Curry, Sr: 17:26 (24), 10:32
Andrew Paskey, Jr: 18:00 (49)

There’s not much to say here. York Suburban has won the district title in impressive fashion each of the past three seasons. They’ve been state title contenders, produced state medalists and have been close to unstoppable when everything is clicking. This year should be no different with essentially everyone back from their district title team. It’s about state gold rather than district gold for these guys. They didn’t make huge waves on the track, but that typically hasn’t been their style. The key to making the leap could be Jarrett Raudenski. If he becomes a top 10 guy as a junior like Ohl did last year, Dallas will have their hands full.

Wyomissing (2016: 2nd, 2015: 7th)
Joe Cullen, Sr: 16:35 (1), 1:53/4:13/16:30/9:33
Ben Kuhn, So: 17:18 (20), 9:55/4:38
Ryan Vargo, Jr: 17:37 (30)
Josh Diehl, Jr: 17:54 (45)
Thomas Foster, So: 18:13 (58)
Austin Keim, Sr: 19:32 (129)
Matt Driben, Sr – 17:10/9:53

Wyomissing has been another excellent program, although they’ve seen their biggest gains on the track. In 2015, they had the individual district champ and another state qualifier in Cullen, but finished just 7th with only 5 runners completing the course. This year, it looks like Wyomissing could finally have the depth they need to move from solid district contender to state powerhouse. Cullen is back and obviously an elite talent. They return two sub 10 3200 runners in Kuhn and Driben and then have two more sub 18 guys coming back in Vargo and Diehl. Hard not to like this team’s chances of returning to states. Now, it’s just a matter of how they do when they get there.

Milton Hershey (2016: 3rd, 2015: 5th)
Rafael Mendez, Sr: 17:01 (12), 4:40/16:53
Luis Guyton-Acevedo, Sr: 17:06 (15)
Jake Edwards, Sr: 17:27 (25), 10:46
Gary Waters, Jr: 18:14 (59), 17:33
Andrew Brammer, So: 18:36 (81), 18:11
Jonas Mendez, So: 11:03

Milton Hershey consistently surprises me as a distance program. I expect the sprint success (and they’ve had a ton of that), but this XC program has now produced two top 5 finishes in back to back years. They’ve also absolutely crushed the 4x8 on the track. Hershey returns their top 4 runners from a year ago and seems like a good bet to get back to states. There are some sneaky good teams behind them, but for now it appears the top 3 from a year ago are the favorites to hold their ground.

Trinity (2016: 4th, 2015: 2nd)
Will Bucher, Jr: 17:13 (16), 17:01/4:40
Sam Predmore, Jr: 18:26 (72), 17:52/10:55
Jason Rittman, So: 19:00

Trinity gets a mention as they are always a strong program. They were a surprising 4th last year given their historically excellent performances, but they got some vengeance on the track with an eye-popping 4x800. Losing Matt Geisler will hurt on the track and on the trails, but Will Bucher has grown a lot in the past few seasons under his tutelage. He and Sam Predmore are the only returners from this varsity squad, but those are two strong leaders that could help instill a sense of drive into the next generation at Trinity.

Big Spring (2016: 7th, 2015: 23rd)
Ishmael Kirkwood, Jr: 17:34 (28), 17:31
Connor Greene, Sr: 18:01 (50), 17:58
Jackson Penner, Sr: 18:23 (68)
Ian Ward, So: 18:29 (75), 4:56
Dain Vallie, Jr: 18:31 (78), 18:28
Brennan Flory, Sr: 18:57 (102)
Hunter Rickrode, So: 18:33

Big Spring gets a shout out for going for 23rd to 7th in the standings last year. That’s a huge jump and a big breakthrough for that program. They get a second shout out for bring back all the key pieces of that squad, including borderline state qualifier Ish Kirkwood. Lastly, you have to appreciate the fact that these guys will have home course advantage at Districts. Could they be the surprise team to break up the top 3 from 2016?

Quick Hits:
Hamburg (2016: 10th, 2015: N/A, less than 5 finishers)
Wyatt Conrad, Sr: 16:59 (9), 10:07
Levi Hayle, Jr: 17:13 (18), 10:09
Seth Boyce, Sr: 17:40 (33), 4:33/10:30
Josh Schreiner, Jr: 19:06 (107)

They return a potentially awesome top 3, but Hamburg will need to bolster their depth if they want to stay in the top 10 of this always improving district. Hamburg didn’t even have 5 finishers in 2015, but emerged as a top 10 team last year. Can they keep the magic going?

Oley Valley
Elijah Velazquez, Sr 17:35
TJ Augustine, Sr 17:58/11:18
Liam Savarese, Sr 18:05
Nick Hartz, Sr 18:40
Raphael Forsyth, Sr 19:37
Mason Shirey, So 19:49
Vince Ferrizzi, So 4:48/19:28

Schuylkill Valley
Ben Reisenweaver, Sr: 1:59/4:35/16:55
Kyle Livinghouse, Sr: 4:44/18:15
Graham Haupt, So: 19:12
Delanie Heck-Hoppes, Sr: 17:32
Lucas Horrell, Sr: 18:11
Connor Boreky, So: 11:49

There’s a nice group of teams with strong returners. Oley Valley and Schuylkill Valley were two of the top groups last year but there is also ELCO, East Pennsboro and Fleetwood. East Pennsboro has been strong before and has a breakout candidate in Caeden Smith (4:40/10:06). Personally, I really like Fleetwood as a sleeper. They’ve got a nice group of returners, had excellent track results from Jalloh, Strong and Collinge and have, at least on the individual side, had success before with medalist Carl Fortna.

Ultimately, I think last year was a bit of a down year for AA in District 3. It was certainly a strong district, but I suspect it will be quite a bit better in 2017 relative to the rest of the state. That’s going to make it tough for any team to contend unless they are peaking at the right time with no weak links. Let’s see which teams rise to this challenge.

Camp Hill (2016: 1st, 2015: 1st)
Matt Little, Sr: 17:57 (8)
Gus Latorre, Sr: 18:58 (17)
Weston Kemble, Jr: 19:30 (28), 11:00
Thomas Ickowski, So: 19:41 (31), 19:36

Camp Hill has been the power of A for some time now, even grabbing a state title in 2015. This might be the year they fall from their perch atop the district. Although they return a nice group, they did lose Dan Shank and Ian Gabig just one year after losing Blake Behney and Cooper Leslie. Those are four high quality stars that don’t just grow on trees. Matt Little, an experienced champion in his own right, will step into the leadership role and look to bring along the crop of newcomers to Camp Hill’s high standards of excellence.

Tulephocken (2016: 2nd, 2015: 2nd)
Jacob Cox, Sr: 18:22 (11), 17:28/10:15
Patrick Strahan, Jr: 19:20 (22)
John Cox, Sr: 19:22 (23), 19:09
Phillip Rodig, Jr: 19:44 (32)
Christopher Ackerman, Jr: 20:26 (39), 20:15
Josh Straw, So 19:53

Tulephocken has been second to Camp Hill each of the past two seasons and is likely hungry for some revenge. Jacob Cox is back to lead the charge, coming off a nice track season. After that, there’s a nice pack, but Tulephocken will likely need at least one of their runners to step up and become a low 18 minute performer if they want to grab the district title away from their rivals.

Delone Catholic (2016: 3rd, 2015: 3rd)
Adler Brininger, So: 17:50 (5), 10:38
Gabe Hall, Jr: 18:44 (14), 18:11
Shamus Keefe, Sr: 18:49 (15)
Josh Hall, Sr: 19:35 (29), 19:11
Charlie Hoerl, Sr: 19:35 (30)
Connor Phillips, Sr: 20:56 (41), 20:48
Joseph Flake, Sr: 21:11 (43)

Delone Catholic brings back everyone from their 3rd place team including breakout freshman star Adler Brininger. Delone Catholic was actually in position to grab a state qualifying spot at mile 2 of last year’s district championships, but faded a bit down the stretch. This year, I think the relatively young core of Delone Catholic will be ready for the challenges of the final mile and maybe even ready for a district title.

Kutztown (2016: 4th, 2015: 5th)
Michael Hill, Jr: 18:49 (16), 4:50/18:40
Sam Arnold, Sr: 19:08 (18), 19:02
Matt Angstadt, Sr: 19:09 (19), 18:02
Derek Hanna, So: 19:14 (20), 11:15/18:53
Zach Schell, Sr: 19:26 (27)
Alex Lanyi, Sr: 20:15 (38), 20:08

Kutztown is a dangerous team as well, returning their entire top 5 and 6 of their top 7. They had just a 37 second spread last year, easily the best in the field. However, that spread isn’t as powerful without a front runner to pull the back ahead. Michael Hill will be tasked with that job, looking to improve on a strong sophomore season. Also watch for Derek Hanna as a potential breakout performer. He will be a sophomore this fall.

York Catholic (2016: 5th, 2015: 4th)
Evan Schlosser, Sr: 17:26 (4), 17:02
Christian Gervasi, Jr: 17:56 (7)
Peter Zelis, Jr: 19:23 (24)
Luke Motter, Jr: 19:51 (34)
Ryan Corbitt, Jr: 20:04 (36), 19:46

I think Evan Scholosser has a chance to give this team an excellent low stick. He has run 17:02 and is an early favorite for a top 2 finish in the district. Christian Gervasi has also been a consistent, clutch performer in his first two seasons at York. The question becomes, what depth will this squad have? They return their pieces (mostly sophomores last year), but have only had 5 guys finish the course each of the past two seasons. That puts a lot of pressure on this group to have no weak links. If they can overcome that obstacle and all peak at the right time, they will have just as good a chance as anyone to qualify for states.