PIAA District III AAA Boys Cross Country Preview

District III AAA Boys Cross Country Outlook

As has been the case for the past several years, District III will once again be one of the state’s most competitive cross country championships this Fall. District III runners originate from the following associations in Central Pennsylvania: Mid Penn Conference; Lancaster Lebanon League; York Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association; and the Berks County Interscholastic Athletic Association. District III has 4 automatic team qualifying spots in AAA for the State Championships and another 20 individual qualifying spots for non-team qualifying individuals.

#killhill at Big Spring, District3 Championship Host Site
AAA Team Race

Hempfield, Twin Valley, Carlisle, and Mechanicsburg earned state qualifying spots last year, with Cumberland Valley and Palmyra barely missing out.

Let’s first look at what each of the top 6 teams in 2017 need to replace this season. Here’s a look at the number of runners lost to graduation or otherwise not coming back in 2018 who placed in the top 50 at District’s last year.

Hempfield – loses the #6, #19, and #39 place finishers
Twin Valley – loses the #14 and #21
Carlisle – loses #28 and #38
Mechanicsburg – loses #1 and #11 – Mechanicsburg loses district champion Morgan Cupp to graduation, but the surprise was losing 11th place finisher Michael Vigliano to football.
Cumberland Valley – loses #15 and # 34
Palmyra – loses no one in the top 50

Palmyra figures to be in the best position to move up based on their returning runners. The Cougar’s bring back their top 3 place finishers from last year, as well as their #5 and #6 runners. Based on returnee ranks, Palmyra will be in position to place 4 runners in the top 40. Only three teams accomplished this feat in 2017, and they took the top 3 places. The only other team in District III that has 4 returning runners that rank in the top 40 is Carlisle. Palmyra is positioned well for the next two years as they have no seniors in their top 5 returners this year.

Based on returnee rankings, Carlisle and Palmyra figure to challenge for the top 2 spots in District 3. Also contending based on returnee rankings are Twin Valley, Warwick, Manheim Township, Lower Dauphin, and Cedar Crest.

Carlisle brings back an experienced group of runners that placed 9th in the state last year. The Thundering Herd bring back 4 seniors in their top 5. Senior Jack Wisner figures to challenge for a District Championship and state medal. Wisner finished 8th in the state in the 1600m last Spring and posts a PR of 4:18. Coach Ed Boardman has built one of the top distance programs in the state and his team figures to be in position to improve upon their team position last year. Carlisle has made it to the State Championship as a team for the past 5 years. This will likely be a 6th.
First big test – Ben Bloser Invite (9/15)

Palmyra returns all but their #4 and #7 runners from last season’s 6th place team. The top 4 returners all posted district times that place them in the top 40 for 2018. Their top 3 returners fall within the top 25 (Matt Carroll, Markus Votterro, and Jakolby Falkner). Palmyra will challenge for the top spot at Districts this year and if the team keeps progressing will be the way too early favorite for 2019.
First Big Test – LVC Dutchmen Invite (9/8)

Twin Valley
The team placed second last year at the District meet. Even though they lose the top two runners from that team, they have a strong pack returning. Their top finisher last year was Dylan Servis and he returns as the #11 competitor in AAA. Twin Valley posted early scrimmage results at Spring Ford. Interestingly, Twin Valley had 4 runners finish ahead of Servis. Senior Trey Hill, the team’s #7 runner from last year’s district team, was the #2 runner behind Griffin Schlegel at the scrimmage. Their top 4 runners all posted times under 17 min. Twin Valley may have the deepest team in all of District 3. They will compete for a team title at Big Spring.
First Big Test – DeSales Invite (9/8)

Warwick is looking to make a big move up from their 11th place team finish in 2017. They return their top 5 runners from last year’s team. All 5 could finish in the top 75 in 2018 based upon last year’s results. Only 5 teams accomplished this feat in 2017, with 3 of those teams qualifying for states and the other 2 just missing out. They have a strong 1-2 punch in Seniors Connor Shields and Noah Martin. Both will challenge for top 10 spots at Districts. Shields had a strong showing this past Spring, finishing 3rd in the district 1600m and achieving a PR of 4:22.09. He also has 1:55 800m speed. With two front runners, Warwick’s state title hopes will be largely dependent on how tightly bunched their 3-5 runners can finish. If all can finish in the top 75 Warwick could be state bound.
First Big Test – PTXC10 at Kutztown (9/8)

Manheim Township
Manheim Township hopes to get back a healthy Evan Dorenkamp for the 2018 campaign. Dorenkamp placed 3rd at the Ben Bloser Invite last Fall in a time on the District course that would have placed him in the top 10 at Districts last year. Ian Miller also returns. Ian placed 8th at Districts last year (#5 returner) and is coming off a strong Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Campaign that saw him win an indoor state medal in the 3000m. With these two in the fold, Manheim Township likely has the top 1-2 punch in the District. If Manheim Township can put a strong pack together behind Miller and Dorenkamp, they could make a run at a state qualifying spot.
First Big Test – PTXC10 at Kutztown (9/8)

Lower Dauphin
Lower Dauphin placed 7th at last year’s District meet. To improve, they will need to do so without their #1 runner from last year, Jared Giannascoli, who graduated. That said, the Falcons return every one else. Senior Josiah Helmer and Junior Mark Walsh appear set to lead the team in 2018. Much like Warwick and Manheim Township, Lower Dauphin will need to attack this season with a pack mentality. The development and success of the team’s #3-5 runners will determine whether or not they will be in position to challenge for one of the top 4 team spots.
First Big Test – PTXC10 at Kutztown (9/8)

Cedar Crest
The only thing that could hold Cedar Crest back from a top 4 team spot in 2018 is their lack of “low point” scorers at the District meet. What the Falcons do have is depth. They may have the best “pack” of runners amongst the teams vying for one of the final team qualifying spots. Their top returning runner is William Sheffield (Jr.). Sheffield is the #30 returner in District 3. They also will have one of the top newcomers in Freshman Luke Hinegardner. Hinegardner won the Iron Bridge Invitational, the informal LL League Jr High Championship meet in 2017. Like Warwick, they will likely put their top 5 runners all within the top 75. If Cedar Crest can place a couple of runners in the top 25 they could be in position to claim a state spot.

Bubble teams: Hempfield, Mechanicsburg, Hershey, Manheim Central, Red Land, Chambersburg

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