October 13, 2018
Elizabethtown rolled through the 2018 regular season, going undefeated and winning the Section 1 title. Their top 3 runners have been dominant this year. Cat Shontz (sr), Madeline Quinn (so), and Katie Locker (jr) have gone 1-2-3 in every league meet this season, finishing in a variety of orders amongst each other. Kate Weissand has been their #4 runner this year; however she has only competed in a handful of races. If there is an achilles heel for the Bears it would be depth.
Donegal wrapped up a 28-30 victory over Manheim Central at the end of the regular season to win the section 2 title. Donegal is led by sophomore Rachel Fernald, who is the #15 ranked runner in the league based on the average time for 5ks this season. Freshman Hadley Shoaf (#38) and sophomore Amanda Fry (#45) are ranked in the top 50. Donegal won’t compete for a top 3 finish at the league championships this year, but should be in good position to compete for a podium spot in the years ahead.
Joining Elizabethtown in the battle for conference supremacy will be Manheim Township, Warwick, and Hempfield. Ephrata and Conestoga Valley appear likely to battle for the 5th place spot.
Manheim Township returns only 2 runners from last year’s State runner-up team. That hasn’t stopped them from making a strong push for another league championship title this year. Having only one senior in their top 7 they should be back in contention again next year as well. Junior Anabelle Lapp and sophomore Chloe Kline have been leading the Blue Streaks throughout the fall. They are ranked the #7 and #9 runners respectively heading into the league championship meet. All 7 of township’s runners are inside the top 50: Paige Laurence (fr) #24; Aurelia Huss (so) #27; Avery Ebersole (fr) #30; Emma Dieterle (sr) #34; and CeCe Walker (fr) #48.
The only team as deep as Manheim Township is Hempfield. They too have all 7 runners ranked in the top 50. Their split between 1-7 is closer than Manheim Township’s; however, they don’t have anyone ranked in the top 20 individually. Hempfield’s top 7 include: Lily Williams (so) #22; Delaney Minder (fr) #25; Bella Schwalm (jr) #32; Gabriella Hollinger (so) #35; Paige Harrington (fr) #37; Bronwyn Meldrum (sr) #41; and Ella Kielmeyer (jr) #42. Hempfield’s apparent lack of a low-stick performer will make it difficult for them to challenge for a team title, but a top 3 finish is very possible.
Warwick matches up very well with Elizabethtown and Manheim Township through 4 runners. They have 3 runners who will be seeking top 15 finishes on Tuesday. Anna Martin (so) #12; Caitlyn Wagner (sr) #13; and Sophia Nau (so) #14 lead the Warriors. Freshman Alexa Wenger is fresh off a personal best 21:48 in Wariwck’s final home meet of the year. For Warwick to contend with E’town and Twp they will need to get a great performance out of their #5-7 runners.
Ephrata’s #1 and #2 runners match up with the leagues best. Mary Campbell (jr) #5 and Alyssa Fedorshak (so) #6 will battle for top 10 finishes. Conestoga Valley senior Alexandra Slingluff will also be speaking a top 10 finish. She comes into the race ranked the #11 runner. Conestoga Valley has decent depth and could place 4 runners inside the top 50.
Look for this to be a race between Elizabethtown and Manheim Township for the team title. Warwick and Hempfield will likely battle for the third place spot and Ephrata and Conestoga Valley will compete for 5th.
Using analytics only, here are the projections for the team finish (Top 10):
The #1 ranked runner heading into the league championship meet based on average 5k race times this season is Gwyneth Young. The sophomore from Cedar Crest just edges out the Elizabethtown trio of Shontz (#2), Quinn (#3), and Locker (#4). Three athletes have run under 19 minutes so far this year: Young – 18:33 (Carlisle Invite); Quinn 18:43 (Elizabethtown home meet); and Shontz – 18:52 (Elizabethtown home meet). Locker is close with her 19:05 season best. These four just faced each other in their final league meet of the regular season with the E’town trio getting the best of Young at Elizabethtown. Ephrata’s Mary Campbell and McCaskey’s Arielle Breuninger (so) have both been running well of late and should factor into the individual race as well.
Here is a listing of the top 50 individual runners going into championships using the same methodology. This methodology should help balance out variances between courses; however, teams with difficult home courses are still likely under-valued here.
Good luck to all runners!! We will be covering this meet live on Tuesday. You can follow along on twitter @centralparunner