Seneca Valley (2016: 1st, 2015: 2nd)
Seneca Valley (2016: 1st, 2015: 2nd)
Sam Owori, Jr – 16:44 (4) + 4:19/16:40
Seth Ketler, Jr – 16:48 (7) + 4:24/1:58/16:46
Alex Dixon, Sr – 17:07 (17) + 50.9
Christian Resch, Sr – 17:12 (22) + 10:05
Aidan Domencic, Jr – 18:06 (61) + 17:53/10:19
Luke Bellack, Sr – 19:02 (126) + 2:00/17:36
Adam Owori, So – 10:33/18:39
Andrew Balla, Sr – 4:30
Seneca Valley has been on a rapid ascent the past few seasons. It started with Brett Foster and Tanner Quiggle. Then it picked up steam in a hurry with the arrival of Mike Kolor. But now, SV is in its absolute prime. They just won a district title and took 4th at states. That team returns six varsity runners and some JV pieces would could surprise. Their top two juniors have established themselves as household names, but they’ve also got dudes with incredible range like Alex Dixon (can place top 20 at WPIALs and also run 50 point for the open quarter) and Luke Bellack (I believe he ran a 1:55 anchor leg for this school at outdoor states this past year). After its upset last year, SV isn’t sneaking up on anybody in 2017. How will they handle the pressure?
North Allegheny (2016: 2nd, 2015: 1st)
TJ Robinson, Sr – 16:48 (8)
Daniel McGoey, So – 17:00 (12) + 9:36/16:53
Cam Phillips, Sr – 17:39 (38) +17:08/4:33
Luke Turkovich, Jr – 17:03
Historically, North Allegheny has had no problems rebuilding. But last year they may have finally been outmatched. Although the Tigers had a fantastic season by any reasonable standard, they did fail to keep their WPIAL streak and Top 5 in the state streak alive when they were 2nd and 6th. But still. 2nd and 6th? Those are awesome results that most teams dream about over the summer. It’s a great team, but what makes them great is that they always want more. After once again getting hit hard by graduation, the boys from North Allegheny will be hungry and back with a vengeance this season. It’s hard to bet against them, but the WPIAL is top heavy this season and there’s unbelievably a chance this squad doesn’t even make states.
Butler (2016: 3rd, 2015: 17th)
Noah Beveridge, Sr – 16:35 (2) + 15:59/9:07/4:19/1:57
Brett Brady, Sr -17:08 (19) + 16:55/4:26
Aden Dressler, Jr – 17:26 (30) + 9:55
Robbie Hays, Sr – 17:38 (37) + 17:35/4:37
Camden Seybert, Sr – 18:00 (55)
Timmy Porter, Sr – 18:41 (103) + 18:12/4:44/2:02
Butler was down my list of teams to qualify for states in 2016. But they came on perfectly at the right time and dropped from 17th to 3rd in the span of a year. Now they bring back a confident, experienced crew with bigger goals than just making it to states. Butler has a fearless leader in Noah Beveridge, an excellent #2 in Brett Brady and then a good mix of distance and mid distance specialists. How good can this team be? And, based on the ability to peak they showed this past year, when will we know their true potential?
Pittsburgh CC (2016: 4th, 2015: 4th)
Sam Gatti, Sr – 17:09 (20) + 16:51/9:50
Max Steffey, Sr – 17:56 (51) + 17:24/10:05
Brendan Lawlor, Jr – 18:52 (112)
After heartbreakingly close finishes for state qualifying spots the past two seasons (and some even before that) the PCC crew is going to try and change their fortune in 2017. Sam Gatti is an excellent piece to build around and I liked the performance Max Steffey had on the track. They don’t return a bunch from last year, but this team always finds a way to stay competitive. You can’t count this team out.
Mount Lebanon (2016: 6th, 2015: 3rd)
Patrick Anderson, So – 17:22 (27) + 16:28
Peter Cosentino, Jr – 17:23 (28) + 9:47/16:53
Jack Cameron, Sr – 17:42 (40) + 16:43/4:32
Bryce Brandenstein, Sr – 18:18 (81) + 4:30/16:10/2:00
Cameron Potts, Sr – 18:31 (90) + 17:01/4:30
Thomas Cosentino, Sr – 16:32/10:03
Nate Everhardt, Sr – 17:26/4:48/1:57
This is the team to watch. The boys from Mount Lebanon could finish the season outside the state qualifying picture like they did last year. But they also could end up being in the mix for a top 5 team finish at states. I think they are that good. They had two guys in the state qualifying mix last season and those arguably weren’t even their best two runners. They ran on a fast legends course, but if you look at their 5k PRs and their track times you can see a boatload of talent. As has been mentioned, they just need to bring their “A” game to Coopers Lake. If that happens, the rest of the state should look out.
Chartiers Valley (2016: 7th, 2015: 5th)
Czar Tarr, Sr – 16:51 (9) + 16:39/4:30/9:38
Elias Zajicek, Jr – 17:28 (31) + 16:50/4:38/1:57
Mark Golebiewski, Sr – 17:33 (36)
Zack Macy, Jr – 17:54 (49)
Joshua Kusajtys, Sr – 19:25 (156)
People used to not think much about Chartiers Valley, but that has all changed the past few seasons. CV has back to back top 7 finishes in the WPIAL and looks like they will be back in the top group again with 4 top 50 returners. Czar Tarr leads the way. He’s a good bet for a top 5 finish at WPIALs and maybe even a state medal at Hershey. Don’t sleep on Elias Zajicek either. He dropped a 1:57 on the track to showcase some serious wheels. They have to bolster up the 5 spot a bit, but this is a quality program that can’t be overlooked any longer.
Fox Chapel (2016: 8th, 2015: 11th)
Christian Fitch, So – 17:21 (26) + 16:47/9:56
Greg Overbeck, Jr - 17:58 (52)
Jonathan Folkerts, Sr – 18:10 (70) + 17:21/4:32
Ian Brown, Jr – 18:13 (75)
Avery Bursick, Jr – 18:38 (99)
It’s been a while since Fox Chapel qualified for the state championships, but they are starting to build up the pieces to do it again. Christian Fitch was a sneaky strong freshman last year with big upside in 2017. The other name to watch is Jon Folkerts who dropped 4:32 for 1600 on the track. Maybe that 1-2 punch makes a leap and this team drops a bunch in the team scoring.
Mars Area (2016: 14th, 2015: 4th (AA))
Zach Leachman, So – 17:16 (24) + 17:03/4:32/9:37
Connor Volk-Klos, Jr – 17:49 (46) + 17:42/4:32
John Zervos, Jr – 18:14 (76) + 17:45
Caleb Keys, Sr – 18:37 (98) + 17:18/10:25
In their first year in AAA, Mars acquitted themselves quite well against the large schools. Assuming they stay there, watch for this young core. Their top 3 finishers from WPIALs last year were sophomores or younger. Caleb Keys didn’t have his best day at Districts last year and I think he could bounce back in a big way to close out his senior year. This is a very intriguing core. Probably not fast enough to make it to states, but you never know what a high upside group is capable of doing.
Greensburg Salem (2016: 1st, 2015: 3rd)
Mark Brown, Jr – 16:55 (4) + 16:22/4:25/9:38
Cameron Binda, Jr – 17:04 (6) + 16:21/9:37/4:22
Dylan Binda, Jr – 17:50 (16) + 17:20/1:58/4:37
Nick Leo, Sr – 19:59 (106)
Noah Calisti, So – 21:04 (151)
The 2016 WPIAL champions lost two key members of their top 5 to graduation and will have to work hard to replenish that depth. The top 3, on paper, looks awesome. They’ve got 3 sub two guys that also have the ability to move and do damage at the longer distances. The story here will be the 4-5, as it is with most teams. If they get some step up performances, GS will be heading back to states for a 3rd straight season.
Quaker Valley (2016: 2nd, 2015: 6th)
Dan Ford, So - 17:45 (14)
Ryan Weicht, Sr – 18:52 (61)
Henry Guild, Sr – 19:23 (85)
Quaker Valley also was hit hard by graduation this year. Most notably, they lost 3 time district champ Zach Skolnekovich, but they also lost a consistent performer in Jake Smiley. Dan Ford is a very talented youngster in this loaded 2020 class, but the QV coaching squad is going to need to continue to work it’s magic if this team is going to stay in the top 5.
South Fayette (2016: 3rd, 2015: 2nd)
Sam Snodgrass, Sr – 17:00 (5) + 4:21/9:38/16:08
Silas Mays, Sr – 18:15 (30) + 17:25/1:57
Michael Cusick, Sr – 18:21 (37)
Colin Dunn, Sr – 18:33 (45)
Ryan Hayes, Sr – 19:45 (95)
With QV and GS both losing some big names, South Fayette seems poised to make a run. This school was 3rd at states this past fall and brings back 5 talented runners to carry on the legacy. I will point out that the loss of a top tier low stick like Aaron Pfeil is going to hurt more than it seems on paper. Especially from a consistency and leadership stand point. That being said, guys like Silas Mays (1:57 this spring) have the potential to step up and fill his shoes. What I really like is how these guys overcame nearly missing out on qualifying for states, to jump within striking distance of team medals. That speaks to the culture of this program and the mental fortitude of the athletes.
New Castle (2016: 4th, 2015: 11th)
Anthony Litrena, So – 17:58 (18) + 10:37/17:24
Le’shawn Huf, Sr – 18:05 (22) + 4:24/17:22
George Eggleston, Sr – 18:09 (27)
Andre Corbin, Jr – 18:17 (34)
Aaron Adamo, So – 19:44 (94)
New Castle almost knocked out South Fayette last year and finished a tie breaker out of state qualifying. I highly doubt these boys have forgotten that near miss and fully expect an awesome summer from this team’s returning core. They’ve got 4 top 35 finishers coming back and one of them is a freshly crowned district champ. Le’shawn Huff is one of the big sleeper names to watch this fall after his upset victory at WPIALs in the 1600 over big names like Sam Snodgrass of South Fayette. If he develops into a low stick and pulls the rest of his training partners, look out. New Castle could be your 2017 WPIAL champions.
Indiana Area (2016: 5th, 2015: 10th)
Rocco Fanella, Sr – 18:06 (23) + 17:54/10:28
Joey Bujdos, Jr – 18:24 (38) + 1:59/18:06
Kendall Brenan, So – 18:28 (40) + 17:48
Matt Berzonsky, Jr – 18:33 (44)
Julian Yerger, So – 18:47 (54)
Evan Weaver, Sr – 18:53 (64)
Isaac Evans, Sr – 10:14/18:53
Uniontown (2016: 7th, 2015: 5th)
Cameron Kutek, Sr – 18:06 (24)
Austin Metts, Sr – 18:17 (35) + 18:00
Riley Gilleland, Jr – 18:24 (39)
Sam Killinger, So – 18:29 (43) + 18:00/10:35
Logan Maust, So – 18:48 (56) + 18:05
I feel like these two programs are incredibly underrated. Heck, I’m underrating them right now by pushing them together into just one paragraph. Indiana Area loses their #1 guy and reliable low stick in Sam Lenze, but returns everybody else. Plus, they should pick up Isaac Evans, who is fresh off an excellent track season. This is a program that has closed a sub 8 4x8 to take down Seneca Valley within the past 5 years so clearly they aren’t afraid of taking on the best.
Meanwhile, Uniontown has a knack for always turning it on at WPIALs. They don’t have a ton of flashy track times or big PRs. In fact, they don’t have anybody on Milesplit with sub 18 credentials. But mark my words, this team will be in the mix for a state qualifying spot. In fact, I’ll go on record right now and say that they make it to states in 2017. No pressure.
Winchester Thurston (2016: 1st, 2015: 2nd)
Tristan Forsythe, Sr – 17:10 (2) + 4:12/15:40/9:35
Gordon Pollock, Sr – 17:36 (5) + 2:00/4:28/17:23
Sean Heintzleman, So – 17:53 (9)
Scott Routledge, So – 18:10 (14) + 17:50/10:31
Dan Senter, Jr – 19:28 (53)
Winchester Thurston has developed into a contender for a state title every year. It always seems like they have more guys in the pipeline. They graduate one or two studs (Landin Delaney, Will Loevner, Ben Littmann and Shaun Hay in successive years), but then they return everybody else. This squad has also been very strong about cultivating young talent. Just look at Gordon Pollock’s consistent improvement each year for this squad. That’s why it’s hard to imagine their sophomores not making at least a little jump this year. Heintzleman could even be a medal contender at states if things click. Plus, we will probably see a new freshman or two blossom onto the radar at this school.
They won the district title last year with 20 points! That’s unreal! Look out A.
Riverview (2016: 2nd, 2015: 3rd)
Ben Barnes, Sr – 17:36 (6) + 16:58/10:01/4:37
Michael Komaniak, Sr – 18:09 (13)
Ryan Cecil, Sr – 18:54 (32)
Jacob Sullivan, So – 19:20 (47)
Ricky Smith, Sr – 19:25 (50)
Parker Morgan, So – 20:55 (90)
Sean Sliben, Jr
Riverview is now back to back state qualifiers out of A. They made it on a tiebreaker in 2015 and then made it outright this past season. And the team is still growing. Riverview returns five top 50 finishers from last year’s meet, including Ben Barnes, a state medalist and excellent front runner. It’s hard to imagine this team out of the state qualifying picture given the resume they have put together the past two years with much of this same core.
Sewickley Academy (2016: 3rd, 2015: 1st)
Austin Duffield, Sr – 18:32 (22) + 17:58
Sam Casale, Sr – 18:57 (33) + 18:23/52
Jared Washington, Sr – 19:05 (39)
Michael Bartholic, Sr – 22:10 (116)
Mason SanFlippo, Sr – 18:37
Henry Meakem, Jr – 10:19/17:08
Sewickley Academy won back to back district titles in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, they got hit hard by the injury bug, but still managed to make it back to states with a 3rd place finish (that included a clutch final mile of running). They graduate some key pieces, but they will hopefully also return guys like Henry Meakem, who medaled at A states as a freshman and Mason SanFlippo. Sewickley has something to prove. They’ve been a few bad breaks away from back to back state titles in their classification. I’m sure they are hungry to steal the thunder of the two time state champs in their own district.
Shenango (2016: 5th, 2015: 4th)
Matt Salem, Sr – 17:43 (7) + 10:11/17:06/4:44
John Maloney, So – 19:06 (40)
Lucas Olcott, Jr – 19:16 (44)
Nathan Kraus, Sr – 19:21 (48)
Ty Kent, Jr – 19:25 (51)
Jensen Lewis, Jr – 20:06 (68)
We’ve talked a lot about heartbreaks, but I’m not sure anyone has Shenango beat. This program has missed out on the past two state championships by a combined 6 points. It’s been a rough journey, but Shenango will bring 6 of their top 7 in 2017. There’s a chance to flip the script and punch that ticket to states behind excellent front-runner Matt Salem. They will need a couple younger runners to step up as they have a lot of sophomores and juniors expected to contribute, but they have the talent to make a run at a top 3 finish.
Greensburg CC (2016: 9th, 2015: 9th)
Aiden Brewer, Sr – 18:12 (15) + 17:32/10:41/2:03
Calvin Dziewulski, Jr – 18:22 (18)
Brendan Maher, Sr – 20:36 (83) + 19:22
Andrew Nassur, Sr – 20:39 (87)
Patrick Brewer, So – 21:38 (103)
Danny Erdely, Sr – 22:01 (112)
I think this may be the program outside the top 5 with the best shot to make noise in A. GCC were a surprise state qualifier out of this district two years ago and could be gearing up to make another run. They’ve been 9th the past two seasons, but that has been while they groomed a young core for a chance to make it back to Hershey. At least one, if not two, of their top 5 guys is going to have to make a leap from 20 minute performer down toward 18 minutes, but that wouldn’t be unprecedented for this school. Let’s see if this squad has any more surprises left for us.