PIAA District III AAA Boys Championship Preview

October 21, 2018

The top 4 teams and top 20 individuals not on one of the top 4 teams will qualify for the PIAA State Championships in Hershey on November 3.

Team Race

The AAA Boys Championship may be the most competitive of the 6 races at the District Championships next Saturday. A total of 8 teams have a legitimate shot at earning one of the 4 team qualifying berths. We will do a deeper dive of the following 8 teams: Carlisle, Cedar Crest, Chambersburg, Hershey, Manheim Township, Palmyra, Twin Valley, and Warwick.

Let’s first look at the 4 conference/league/county champions.

Berks County Champion (BCIAA) – Twin Valley

Twin Valley has been our #1 ranked team in District 3 (D3) AAA since week 6. They further solidified their #1 ranking by cruising to a BCIAA Championship over AA power Wyomissing 48-82. Twin Valley has an impressive invitational win from the William Tennant Invite where they defeated District 1’s Council Rock South 66-78. D3 colleague Manheim Township finished 3rd at William Tennent with 142 points. The Raiders have a whopping 6 runners who have run under 17 minutes this season. The next closest to accomplishing that is Carlisle and Palmyra who each have 3 athletes under 17. Twin Valley has largely competed in events east of traditional District 3 territory and therefore will be competing against most teams for the first time on Saturday.

York/Adams Champion (YAIAA) – York Suburban (D3 AA)

Gettysburg and Northeastern appear to be the top 2 AAA teams coming out of the YAIAA. Gettysburg junior Andrew Hirneisen won the individual title in a PR of 16:42. He will be competing for one of the 20 individual qualifying spots for states. James Herman (soph, Northeastern) will also be competing for an individual qualifying spot. He has a PR of 16:46 when he finished 2nd to Hirneisen at YAIAAs. Neither Gettysburg nor Northeastern will likely be able to challenge for a top 4 team finish this year.

Mid-Penn Conference Champion – State College (District 6)

State College won the Mid-Penn title and will be the favorite to win the District 6 title. They are currently ranked #8 in the state by Milesplit. What we probably learned more than anything from Mid-Penns was Carlisle separating themselves from Chambersburg, Hershey, and Palmyra.

Mid-Penn Championship Top 6 Team Results – From penntrackxc.com

Carlisle has 3 seniors in their top 5 and are very familiar with the course at Big Spring. They have good team depth and seem to be in good position to once again earn a team spot at the state championships. Senior Jack Wisner will compete for an individual title. He has the fastest 5k amongst all D3 runners when he ran 15:54 at the Carlisle Invitational.

Lancaster/Lebanon League Champion – Warwick

Warwick won the regular season title and then followed that up with a LL League Championship Team title. They had close battles throughout the season with Cedar Crest and Manheim Township. The League Championship also provided a close competition. Warwick has a great 1-2 punch in seniors Connor Shields and Noah Martin. Both will be in contention for top 10 finishes at the District Championship. Warwick also got strong performances from their #3-5 runners at leagues to win the title.

LL League top 3 Team Results – From penntrackxc.com

Expect another battle between these three LL League foes at Districts, this time with a trip to states on the line.

Other Teams in Contention for a State Qualifying Berth

Chambersburg – Chambersburg is the #2 team out of the Mid-Penn conference. Chambersburg has victories over Warwick, Hershey, and Manheim Township from the early season PTXC10 Invite. At the Carlisle Invite they were defeated by Carlisle, Warwick, Cedar Crest, and Palmyra. At the Gettysburg Invitational, Hershey returned the favor from PTXC10 and beat Chambersburg. The Trojans have been one of the more difficult teams to evaluate this season. When in doubt, go with their most recent performance, which for them was a good one at Mid-Penn’s. Chambersburg has a potential low stick performer in senior Trentin Overcash who will be looking for a top 10 individual finish. He has a season best time of 16:29 from the Carlisle Invitational. Unlike Warwick, Manheim Township, and Palmyra, all of whom have at least 2 low stick performers, Chambersburg will need to rely on solid pack running at districts from their #2-5 runners who have all run within 13 seconds of each other.

Cedar Crest – Cedar Crest’s 1-7 split of 53 seconds is second to only Hershey (50 seconds) in District 3. Cedar Crest’s top runner this season has been sophomore Tommy Bildheiser who ran a nice PR of 16:46 at the LL League Championship where he placed 9th overall. He currently has the 24th fastest time in D3. The Falcons may lack a top 20 finish on Saturday, so they will be counting on getting as many top 50 finishes that they can. The Falcons have two of the districts top freshmen in Luke Hinegardner (16:51 PR) and Ben McElroy (17:09), who currently have the teams 2nd and 3rd fastest 5k times this season. The future looks very bright for Cedar Crest.

Hershey – Hershey lacks a true #1, low-stick performer, but they have the closest 1-7 split amongst all D3 teams. Luke Sheppard (jr) has run the team’s fastest 5k this year in 16:51. Ben Phillippy (jr) has the teams 7th fastest time in 17:41. They have 5 runners with season best times under 17:20. The only other team to achieve that is Twin Valley. Brendan Shea (jr) led the team at the Mid-Penn Championships running a PR of 16:58 and finishing 17th. Sheppard had an off day at the conference championship and will look to bounce back to help Hershey earn a top 4 finish.

Manheim Township – Manheim Township will likely be the first team to have 2 athletes cross the finish line at Districts. Seniors Evan Dorenkamp and Ian Miller have led the Blue Streaks all season and are coming off a 2-4 finish at the Lancaster/ Lebanon League Championships. Dorenkamp has a PR of 16:07; Miller’s PR is 16:12. Both ran their PRs while finishing 1st and 2nd at the William Tennent Invitational. Township and Cedar Crest were in a very close battle for 2nd at their league meet, with Crest narrowly edging out Township. No one may benefit more from a break between conference/league week and districts than Manheim Twp. At leagues, they were competing in their 6th meet in 16 days, a factor of inclement weather earlier in the season.

Palmyra – Palmyra was one of our early season favorites, but they were dealt an unfortunate blow when last year’s #1 runner Matt Carroll (jr) was lost to injury. He finished 12th at District’s last year as a sophomore. Jakolby Fackler (soph) has picked up the #1 duties admirably, however. He has a PR of 16:21 and finished 5th at Mid-Penn’s with a 16:26. Junior Zach Toth and sophomore Markus Vottero have also run sub 17 with their 16:42 and 16:50 PRs, respectively.

Additional note (#3-7 runners) – This should be an incredibly close race for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place qualifying spots. Any one of the teams mentioned above could secure any of those positions. Whichever team’s 3-5/3-7 runners have the best days will be in great positions to move onto states. The 3-5/3-7 battle is where the race between these teams will be very close. As we’ve said before, XC is a team sport. It will take a total team effort to earn one of the 4 spots up for grabs in AAA.

Race Projection:

District III AAA Champion – Twin Valley

District III AAA Runner-up – Carlisle

3rd Place – Warwick

4th Place – Cedar Crest

5th Place – Manheim Township

6th Place – Chambersburg

7th Place – Hershey

8th Place – Palmyra

9th Place – Cumberland Valley

10th Place – J.P McCaskey

Individual Race

The individual race should be as compelling as the team race. 3 athletes have run sub 16 minutes this season and another 10 have run under 16:30. Carlisle’s Jack Wisner leads the way with his 15:54 from the Carlisle Invitational. Connor Shields and Cumberland Valley’s Luke Klingenberg (sr) both ran 15:59 at Carlisle. Evan Dorenkamp (sr, Man Twp) and Evan Kreider (sr, Cocalico) are next on the list with a 16:07 and 16:09, respectively. Andrew Foster (sr, Ephrata, 16:12), Ian Miller (sr, Man Twp, 16:12), Dylan Servis (sr, Twin Valley, 16:14), Alexander Ermold (sr, Gov Mifflin, 16:15), and Nate Grucelski (sr, Conestoga Valley, 16:15) round out the top 10. Grucelski’s time comes from his big win at the LL League championships over Dorenkamp (2nd), Foster (3rd), and Miller (4th). Servis was the top AAA finisher at the BCIAA championships followed by Wilson junior Christian Gagliardi (SB 16:40; ranked 17th). These two finished 3rd and 4th overall. Griffin Schlegel (jr, Twin Valley) finished 6th at BCIAAs and has a SB of 16:38, ranking one spot ahead of Gagliardi.

Ranked 11th-15th based on season best times are:

11th – Brandan Knepper (sr, Mechanicsburg) – 16:19

12th – Jakolby Fackler (soph, Palmyra) – 16:21

13th – Trentin Overcash (sr, Chambersburg) – 16:29

14th – Noah Martin (sr, Warwick) – 16:33

15th – Casey Padgett (jr, Carlisle) – 16:37

Interested in runners most recent performances? Here are the top 30 times from conference/league week:

Good luck to all teams, athletes, and coaches!!