Weekend Recaps are Back and The Same As Ever!

By Jarrett Felix (UPDATED 9/4 @ 11:13 AM)

Ladies and gentlemen the 2017 XC Season is here! We are back and ready to discuss all the action from the opening weekend of what is sure to be another exciting season. The weather was solid up here for a good portion of the day on Friday/Saturday so hopefully the PA folks got similar good fortune. I’ll be recapping the races and analyzing the results of the weekend meets in alphabetical order so feel free to skip around or skim or control F for your name. Let’s get back into it …

Bear Mountain
Lock Haven’s course is usually very quick and this year’s early season results were no exception. Three runners broke 16 minutes on the layout, led by a 1-2 punch form General McLane’s Nate Price and Erik Andrzejewski. The two juniors were on my AA watch list after a big sophomore campaign and both clearly are still in top shape. Their team, a top 10 squad in AA last year, also won the team title.

While the times of 15:43 and 15:50 are definitely a bit inflated by the fast layout, it’s also worth noting that these same two guys ran roughly a minute slower last year on the same loop. And it’s not like they are slouches: I considered both for my preseason top 50 and think they will be medalist in AA. These guys are legit and clearly in shape to do big things this year.

The final sub 16 came from another man who was AA a year ago, Bellefonte’s Brett Pope. Pope was 5th in D6 last year behind a group of returners, but clearly has made great strides this past summer. Pope wasn’t really in the mix for a top 50 or top 25 finish at states last fall, but this year he has already stamped himself as a possible medal contender in AA and he could be in the district title mix individually (although the district is looking much strong than a year ago).

Some other interesting notes from this one. Ethan Knoebel and Tyler Holcomb finished 1-2 at this meet last year in the 16:20s. Although both ran nearly 20 seconds faster, they ended up 5th and 6th in this loaded group. Knoebel was the #2 A runner in the field behind a freshman Tristan Amell of Coudersport in D9. Keep an eye on him looking forward as he ran 16:01. Holcomb was the top AAA runner in the field and qualifies out of D2 because there are not a lot of AAA D4 schools.

In other team news, A squad Mount Caramel defeated preseason darlings Southern Columbia with 164 points to SC’s 211. That being said, it looks like Columbia was missing one of their key contributors in Nick Kuzo and his presence could have potentially swung the meet back in their favor. All the same, Mount Caramel has emerged as an interesting third horse in what we previously expected to be a one v one between SC and perennial powerhouse Northeast Bradford. Tyler Adams led the way for MC in 19th place overall.

Big Valley
In what runhigh listed as a RAINY day, Isaac Davis successfully defended his Big Valley title with a second straight 15:54. The early favorite for AA state champ produced a quality win against a solid field of up and comers. Besides Davis, there was only one other Senior in the top 13 overall and a total of four freshmen in the top 11!

The big story out of this one has got to be Penns Valley. The A squad won the team title over a slew of large schools and dominated with just 44 points. This team was already on the radar (a consistent program right around the top 10) and were expected to do well this season, but everything changed when two freshmen were added to the equation. Brendan Colwell and Colton Sands of PV placed 4th and 7th in the race and became the #1 and #3 runners on a team that already returned two top 40 finishers from last year’s state championship and the top 2 runners from D6 A. Brendan Colwell, who may be the younger brother for reigning district champ and state medalist Chris Colwell, took 4th with an impressive 16:38 and gives the team another medal contender right off the bat. Chris was a strong 6th in 16:49 as the team’s top 4 were all under 17 minutes. Sam Gray was the team’s #5 runner and really brought it home. Penns Valley is a legit title contender after what we just witnessed in week one.

Amazingly, the Penns Valley froshes weren’t even tops in their class. Brayden Harris of Mifflin County ran 16:21 to take 3rd overall in the race as just a freshman. He finished only 2 seconds behind Garrett Baublitz of Juniata, the freshman sensation in the state last year. That is a hugely impressive result for Harris who now bolsters a young core of Chase Shaeffer and Chayce Macknair who ended up 12th and 13th in this race. Even without Seth Phillips in the line-up, D6 AAA squad Mifflin County was able to ride their front running to the top performance in their classification with a 2nd overall team finish. They defeated State College who is expected to be their rivals looking ahead for that one state qualifying spot.

However, the State College boys appeared to be holding some of their cards in reserve. Owen Isham, Mitchell Etter and Sam Horn, three of the team’s top returners, were all MIA at this meet. State College was actually read by, you guessed it, another freshman! Bennent Norton took 18th overall and gives the Little Lions another piece to use in their fight to stay atop the district standings. If Isham and Etter can be as good as projected, SC is going to be tough to beat yet again. However, the addition of Brayden Harris makes Mifflin County a very dangerous rival. Especially if they can add back in Seth Phillips in the not so distant future.

Some other quick notes here. Lewisburg put together a nice pack. This is a program that is always strong. Look for them to put together a nice run this season and stay in the mix in D4 AA. Van May, yet another freshman, ran 17 flat for 11th in this race. He’s from Bedford High, the same school that produced Will Kachman. May could be an interesting factor in the D5 championship picture against Somerset’s dynamic 1-2 punch of Mazzariello and Walker.

Cliff Robbins
In XC, nothing is ever guaranteed and we saw further proof of that this weekend at Cliff Robbins. Back to back state champions Dallas were logical favorites against their district 2 rivals but, despite 4 top 10 finishes, the champs were upset by A’s Montrose 53-67. Dallas has looked darn near invincible in recent years and I’m still a believer in these guys after meet #1, but it will be interesting to monitor their depth moving forward. Jason Culp was a super valuable contributor for this team who they lost to graduation and I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up to fill his shoes. They won’t need anything huge as it looks like Dallas has 4 guys with top 50 potential, perhaps 3-4 medalist candidates as well (although the AA section is loaded individually this year).

So let’s talk about Montrose here. The school moved down to A last year and took off, winning the district title and quickly becoming my favorite sleeper team to discuss in the state title picture. Montrose had a couple key graduates, but they’ve clearly reloaded. Brandon Curley looks just as good as ever and could be a top 5-10 in A this season. Laim Mead impressed me last year and was 8th at this meet. Max Brewer was the team’s #5 today, but also the team’s #5 last season and has big potential to move. They’ve got nice depth all the way through #6 as they had 6 top 20 finishers in a pretty deep meet. I was high on Montrose in my preseason ranks and I’m staying that way looking ahead. I love the way last year’s JV guys stepped right up into the varsity line up with confidence. I think this team has a ton of potential.

Holy Redeemer had a strong showing in the team picture as well. Even without Lucas Volpetti, a top 10 finisher last year at districts, Redeemer was 3rd in the standings with 5 top 30 finishers. The big climber in the varsity line up this year seems to be Conner Stevens, who was just behind their workhouse Zapusek in 12th.

In another notes, Franklin Cunningham of Hazleton, a former district champ I believe as a sophomore, was the top AAA man in the field. He took 7th overall. Jack Zardecki of Dallas won the meet and looks in great form. We haven’t talked a ton about him as an individual since team results have really driven the discussion around him, but Zardecki deserves some individual state title love. He’s in that conversation no doubt.

Enos Yeager
Coming into this season, you didn’t know what you would get out of Carlisle. They lost their 3 top dogs and, on paper at least, didn’t have a ton of pieces coming back after a legendary breakthrough in 2016. But Carlisle looks like they’ve recovered just fine. The defending district champs got a big win at this meet over Chambersburg and AA Gettysburg with 8 of the top 15 overall finishers.

However, individually I was most impressed by Jack Wisner. The Carlisle junior rolled to a very fast 12:24 on the course and won by some 30 seconds. If we thought this top tier talent would take a step back due to losing some training partners, we were sorely mistaken. The Junior ran the fastest of the past 10 seasons for a junior on the course and was just 4 seconds slower than won Sam Affolder ran last year (when Sam was 2nd). Wisner’s stock is on the rise.

Also adding their names to the elite sub 13 crew for this odd distance are Casey Padgett, a sophomore from Carlisle who ran 10:02 last spring, and Chambersburg’s Trentin Overcash. Carlisle’s top 7 featured just one senior and a bunch of guys who I highlighted in my preseason preview for having produced on the track.

In other notes, I like the 1-2 punch I saw out of Gettysburg. Either Luke Milhimes or Bradley Filler could be a factor near the top of the D3 field and they’ve got a nice 1-2-3 punch developing. If they can find a way to bolster the back half of the line up, they could make a nice little team run this season.

Also I noticed Cade Rush on Carlisle as a senior. That’s not the same Cade Rush from Waynesburg Central last year I’m assuming? Just a name coincidence? Cade Rush of Waynesburg was 15th in the AA WPIAL champs last year and, if it’s the same guy, could be a nice addition to Carlisle’s already deep core. If it’s just a coincidence, shout out to this Cade Rush for stepping up from out of nowhere as a senior to join a deep Carlisle varsity contigent.

Hornet Harrier
Zac Tingley of Lakeview, one of the top returners from A, wont eh race with a time of 16:43. Noah Bernarding, the top freshman in A last year, took second for D10 rivals Cochranton. The top teams in D10 A this year are pretty wide open as some key pieces graduated. Bernarding’s Cochranton team stepped up in week one to take the top D10 honors with a second place finish. Two of my preseason sleeper picks, Lakeview and Reynolds, were 4th and 6th overall. D10’s Hickory (AA) was 3rd. Reynolds got an awesome run out of Troy Hart who placed 5th in team scoring.

The top overall team in this race was the WPIAL’s Shenango. The boys from Shenango have had some painfully close runs at state championship qualifying out of D7 A and look just as loaded as ever this season. Matt Salem took 3rd in this race at 17:01 and was joined by Nick Pindel as a top 10 finisher. Pindel is just a freshman this season.

Lions Invitational
The 1-2 punch from Abington Heights have received a lot of love from me this preseason, but Saucon Valley’s Ethan Bernstein decided to come out and turn the tables on the D2 standouts in their season opener. Bernstein, the D11 AA champ last year, rolled to a 16:35 victory over Burke and Uhranowky of Abington Heights. Sheamus Hammerstone of Notre Dame GP was 4th overall in the race, just a few seconds back of 3rd. If Hammerstone keeps running like this Notre Dame could be a fun squad in AA this year. Their returning state medalist, John Koons, was missing from the front of the field this weekend, but if he comes back, watch out for this team.

The team title in this won was taken by Nazareth Area in an impressive surprise. This squad wasn’t a huge factor in the battle at the top of District 11 last season, but they seem to have bolstered their depth and guys like Blake Samsel have taken a nice step forward in 2017.

In other notes, the top A finisher in the race was Palmerton’s Jacob Martinez. Martinez will get Wayne Reilly this year at districts to decide who grabs the state title. Bangor’s Morgan O’Brien was the top D11 AAA performer in this local meet.

Marty Uher
It’s going to be a fun year in the WPIAL this season and Mount Lebanon, who missed out on a trip to states last fall, will be the main reason why. The Lebo boys got off to yet another hot start at the Marty Uher Invite on the brutal Cal course. They averaged an impressive 17:28 and scored just 26 points to take the team title in impressive fashion.

For Lebo, their two state qualifying athletes picked up right where they left off last season as Peter Costentino and Patrick Anderson took the team’s top two spots in the meet. PC was 2nd overall just fractions of a second behind Top 50 man Mark Brown. Anderson was 3rd overall just ahead of fellow Top 50-er Cameron Binda. Lebo had 9 members of the top 20 overall in the race even without Bryce Brandenstein. It’s a great start for this squad, but they will need to prove they can maintain this intensity all the way to Coopers.

In other news out of the event, Greensburg Salem looks to continue the momentum they picked up a year ago when they won the WPIAL title. This squad’s terrific top 3 was in good form as they took 1-4-12 overall. However, the 4-5 were a little further back. That being said, GS still was 3rd in the team standings and tops among the AA squads in attendance. They also had a 6-7 that was just a few spots back of the 4-5 and could push them in meets looking forward.

Upper St Clair was 2nd overall with 72 points, led by Chris Hess in 8th place.

Just as Lebo pulled out a strong win in their opener, so too did budding WPIAL rival Butler. The Bull Dogs (yes, I’m sticking with Bull Dogs for now) only raced 5 guys in the varsity race at McDowell but still picked up the team victory over Taylor Allderdice of District 8 by double digits. Butler’s Noah Beveridge ran 15:27 in a runaway victory, topping the unreal mark Austin Pondel of Corry posted in 2012 (15:36). Pondel went on to be a Footlocker Finalist at season’s end. I’m high on Butler for this season and I thought their opener went quite well, but there’s still work to be done if they want to contend for a state or district title. Worth noting, Butler also picked up a big JV win from senior Doug Kostelansky who won the race in 17:21, a 37 second margin of victory. This kid could be a key piece as Butler continues to try and shrink that spread.

Honestly, the most impressive team performance to me was from Allderdice. The District 8 squad was pretty good last year, but lost their state medalist Amadou Diallo. However, the Allderdice boys don’t seem to have lost much of a step. Tavonne Davis and Ethan Hermann finished 4-5 in this race. That’s a big breakthrough for Hermann, who posted a 16:20. That’s a nice 1-2 punch bolstered by the fact that I think this team is actually deeper at the #5 spot than they were a year ago. It’s going to be hard for this District 8 squad to sneak into the top 10 teams at states, but this could be one of their best ever squads (which is ironic because I thought last year would have been that team). Shout to Allderdice.

In D10 news, we already talked about Lock Haven champs General McLane, but two of their toughest rivals fought hard at this meet. Grove City and Harbor Creek, my early picks for the state qualifying spots, took 3-4 in the team standings behind the AAA squads with just 6 points between them. Grove City was led by an excellent front runner in Jonah Powell (2nd overall in 16:01) while Harbor Creek utilized their trio of state medalists to take 3-10-11 in the standings. Grove City held off Harbor Creek with depth, but Harbor Creek showed that they are retooling nicely at the 4-5 spot. I was worried about the back half of their varsity but I thought Nate Dougan and Nolan Weber, who both broke 18 minutes, were solid in this opener. Weber is still just a sophomore.

Wrapping up the rest of the action, popular sleeper pick Leshawn Huff started off his season with perhaps his best ever XC performance. The 1600 district champ dropped a 16:21 for 6th place overall. His New Castle squad was up in the mix at 5th place with 121 points. New Castle picked up a key addition in freshman Jonah Miller (29th overall) who really helps bolster the depth of this burgeoning squad. Bradford Area’s Logan Caruso looks to be hitting his stride once more after a top 10 finish to start 2017, He helped his Bradford team to 8th in the standings and #4 out of AA schools. In the D10 A battle, North East stepped up with a big statement run. The 2007 state champions rolled to 171 points behind two top 20 finishes from Josh Lewis and sophomore Zane Courtwright. That 1-2 punch helped them hold off perennial power Seneca and their solid post-Myers pack.

The top two probably look familiar in this one as Avery Lederer of Penncrest gets his revenge on CB East’s David Endres in a flip of last year’s top 2. These boys both cracked 16 minutes as Lederer rolled to a 15:43 winning time. However, Endres had arguably the last laugh as he was able to lead his CB East boys team to a narrow victory over Penncrest. Both of these programs are right in the mix for one of the final state spots and can pick up some confidence from strong showings in weekend one.

CB East absolutely rolled at this meet last year and, although this result wasn’t quite as dominant, I think that’s a good sign. This squad will look to time their peak a little bit better so that they can get back to states. East is very impressive as their young core was on full display. Cole Sands took 7th (junior) and sophomore Andrew Conte took 17th. But Penncrest also had young stars to lead on as their #3 and #4 were both sophomores in Patrick Theveny (8th) and Andrew Woolery (24th).

This course is definitely quick, but it’s not crazy to think that these guys can match these sort of marks at season’s end and average under 16:30 at Lehigh.

Individually, we saw some big breakthroughs. Easton’s Joseph Ozgar was a big surprise as he rolled to a 15:59 and took 3rd place. He topped one of my personal sleeper picks for 2017 in Colin Cramer who was 4th and Quakertown’s 800 superstar Hudson Delisle who was 5th. Ozgar and his Easton teammates took an impressive 3rd overall in this race and will look to stay in the state qualifying picture out of District 11.

Southern Lehigh, the early favorites for the D11 title, were just 9th overall but actually had, in my opinion, a great result. This was arguably Cramer’s best ever XC race, showing great ability after a breakthrough on the track, and then SL had a nice punch of up and comers at the 2-3 spot including a frosh with upside in Alec Dicesare. SL’s #2-5 returners from last year’s state meet, including talented miler Thomas Matsumura, were all missing from the results. Add those guys back in within the ball park of Cramer and this team looks very strong. But we will have to wait and see if everyone is healthy enough to make that assumption down the road.

In other news, Pope John Paul picked up the AA victory fairly convincingly with a 17:20 average. This will be a big season for JP2 as they are the early favorites to knock off powerhouse HG Prep in District One AA. However, we haven’t seen this team in the state results anytime recently so they have something to prove. Nice to see they’ve handled the pressure well in week one.

Oakbourne Relays
It’s hard to read too much into a 2 mile relay meet, but it’s also hard to not be impressed by the boys from DT West. In addition to flooding the JV results, West posted a strong win in the varsity meet over their rivals from West Chester Henderson. DTW’s 4 teams all took top 5 spots, only being eluded the sweep because of Conestoga’s stand out relay led by top tier talents Robinson and Shultz.

I don’t always know which splits go with which names (every once in a while it gets flipped on us), but it looks like the fastest race of the day was posted by Henderson’s Spencer Smucker. The three time state medalist posted splits of 4:55 and 4:52 which are up there with the top results at this meet. Last year Nick Dahl ran 4:51 and 4:55 splits and Rusty Kujdcyh ran 5:03 and 4:59. So Smucker is up there with two guys who smoked the Lehigh Course.

In other news, it appears the Unionville 1-2 punch of Conway and Walker each had solid days with multiple splits at 5:10 or faster. Also in that top group of splits appears to be Tyler Rollins of DT West (5:01-5:07) and Evan Kaiser of DT West (5:05-5:07). My apologies if I flipped anyone’s name.

If anybody has Gateway results, hit me up with those. Otherwise, let me know if I missed another meet and I’ll add it to the recap. Top 50 updated rankings will be coming later on this week …

Also, here's a Gateway recap that we got from one of commenters that is very well done:

The Gateway results aren't currently on milesplit, but the results were sent to the participating teams. Here's my takeaway: The Boyce Park course is about 2 minutes slower than most courses (according to the meet director). We'll see how accurate this is as athletes compete on faster courses. Riverview's Ben Barnes ran 17:33, not far from the (unofficial) meet record of 17:28. Christian Fitch was the only other runner to dip under 18 with a 17:49. Fitch would have to settle for another second place finish as his Fox Chapel team lost in a tiebreaker to Norwin by virtue of a slower #6 runner. Plum was third in the 13 team field. Only 3 teams in this meet were A or AA. There were more, but they were all incomplete teams. Deer Lakes, the only AA school finished 9th. The most impressive team result of the day was from last year's single-A WPIAL runner ups, Riverview. They managed to place 6th against mostly AAA teams. The only other Class A school was Eden, who placed behind Riverview in 7th.


  1. Here's the link to the Cal U/Marty Uher Results since the link on Penntrack appears to be broken. Lebo looks strong.

  2. The Gateway results aren't currently on milesplit, but the results were sent to the participating teams. Here's my takeaway: The Boyce Park course is about 2 minutes slower than most courses (according to the meet director). We'll see how accurate this is as athletes compete on faster courses. Riverview's Ben Barnes ran 17:33, not far from the (unofficial) meet record of 17:28. Christian Fitch was the only other runner to dip under 18 with a 17:49. Fitch would have to settle for another second place finish as his Fox Chapel team lost in a tiebreaker to Norwin by virtue of a slower #6 runner. Plum was third in the 13 team field. Only 3 teams in this meet were A or AA. There were more, but they were all incomplete teams. Deer Lakes, the only AA school finished 9th. The most impressive team result of the day was from last year's single-A WPIAL runner ups, Riverview. They managed to place 6th against mostly AAA teams. The only other Class A school was Eden, who placed behind Riverview in 7th.

  3. Noah Beveridge's run at McDowell tied the course record set back in 2003 by Brian Soder of Harborcreek. Impressive opening run!

  4. Oakbourne relays actually gives a decent reading on districts/states this year. DTW has a huge team of good runners but not many at the top level. Their JV first 8 runners probably could have won this meet but they won't be any help when it matters. If team scoring in championships were based on 15 instead of 5 nobody could come close to DTW. But since scoring is based on only 5 they'll finish 3rd at Districts, 5th at states. If they run their JV at Chesmonts they'll probably take 2nd, Unionville has 5 guys good enough to be this years version of 2016 Rustin. Oakbourne relays also shows WCH is good, but not good enough to make states out D1 this year. They're just not deep enough. Shanahan ran their JV but their varsity didn't show, they're probably on a top secret program. Avon Grove is quietly pretty good. Stoga and Rustin are in rebuild mode.

  5. Is Mt. Lebo for real this year? Those are good times and some real depth with that pack.

    1. Oh if only we knew. I want to say yes, because the talent level on that team is undeniable. If they get to states, they will be a top-6 or so squad. As many have pointed out though, they have a bad habit of having their worst race of the season at the most important meet of the year. As a westerner myself, they are certainly the biggest storyline that I will be paying attention to this year.

      This Saturday will be a huge measuring stick. For those who don't know, literally EVERYONE in D7 goes to Red White and Blue. It is the best early season test you can get.

      Lebo historically does very well here. They've finished 2nd at this meet to NA for the last 5 years, and they won it the year before that (2011). The problem is, in that time frame, they've always placed at least 1 spot worse at WPIALs. In other words, they lose to a team that they beat at RWB every year. That's very dangerous this year, with SV, NA, and Butler all being very good themselves. Remember, only 3 of them can go to states.

      Nevertheless, I can't wait to see what happens with these guys.

      -Jiminy Cricket