PIAA District III AAA T&F Championships – Distance Preview

The 2019 PIAA District III Track and Field Championships convene upon Shippensburg University this Friday and Saturday. District III recently received good news in that they now receive 6 automatic state qualifying berths for the boys; the girls have stayed at 5. This highlights the depth of talent that resides within Central Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that athletes and teams must run a state qualifying time at the district meet in order to qualify for states if you place outside of the top 5 (girls) or top 6 (boys).

Below is an event by event breakdown of this weekend’s distance events. Enjoy!



State Qualifying: Top 6 + any additional athlete bettering 9:31.71

The 3200m will be the first track event to name a champion. The AAA boys race is scheduled to go off at approximately 6:30p Friday evening. This is a senior-heavy group with runners posting impressive career resumes. Mechanicsburg’s Brandan Knepper and Manheim Township’s Ian Miller are the top two athletes entered in this event. Knepper (Mid-Penn), Miller (LL League), and Governor Mifflin’s Alexander Ermold (BCIAA) most recently won their respective conference/league 3200m championships. They figure to battle each other for the district title. Miller (High Point), Noah Martin (Bucknell), and Luke Klingenberg (Temple) are all signed with division 1 programs. Mifflin’s Ermold and Ephrata’s Andrew Foster will be future teammates at Shippensburg University and Jake Barrett (Cedar Crest) will be competing for Eastern.

State Qualifying: Top 6 + any team bettering 8:02.04

Things could get interesting in the 4×800. The top 2 teams have seniors looking to qualify for states in multiple individual events. For Warwick, seniors Connor Shields (1600/800) and Noah Martin (3200/1600) will be looking for individual state berths and for Manheim Township, seniors Ian Miller (3200/1600) and Evan Dorenkamp (1600/800) will be looking for individual qualifying spots. Neither Warwick nor Manheim Township ran their top squads at the league meet. Cedar Crest (Jake Barrett) and Cumberland Valley (Luke Klingenberg) both have seniors running the 3200/1600 double and both are in position to earn individual state qualifying marks. If Warwick and Township both run the same teams they did at the league meet, then Cedar Crest, Twin Valley, and Cumberland Valley are likely to compete for the district title. For Twin Valley, it will be the first event their athletes are competing in for the weekend.

State Qualifying: Top 6 + any additional athlete bettering 4:24.22

7 entered competitors have already bettered the state qualifying time. 4 additional athletes are within 1 second of the state qualifying time. I’m not sure that there is a more competitive event on the schedule for this weekend than the boys 1600m. 13 seniors occupy the 20 entries. Special call-out to Palmyra sophomore Jakolby Fackler and Cedar Crest freshman Luke Hinegardner who will gain valuable experience this weekend having qualified for both the 3200m and 1600m races.

Manheim Township’s Evan Dorenkamp used a 57.9 second final lap to edge out Ephrata’s Tyler Shue at the LL League meet this past weekend.

Here is a great look at the finish of the LL League 1600m between Dorenkamp and Shue from Lancaster Newspaper’s Tim Gross:


The top 5 seeds in this event all have 1:56 800m speed or faster. These 5 seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the field this season. How many athletes will beat the 4:24.22 state qualifying requirement?

Dorenkamp (PSU), Alexander Ermold (Shippensburg), Nate Grucelski (Navy), Connor Shields (Notre Dame), Jack Wisner (Pittsburgh), Justin Rittenhouse (Univ of Miami), Jake Barrett (Eastern), Noah Martin (Bucknell), Ian Miller (High Point), and Luke Klingenberg (Temple) are the athletes in this race that I am aware of who have committed to run in college.

State Qualifying: Top 6 + any additional athlete bettering 1:57.00

8 entered athletes have already bettered the state qualifying time entering this weekend’s 800m competition. How competitive is this race??? The indoor state champion is the #2 seed coming into the meet. Dylan Servis (BCIAA), Tyler Shue (LL League), Jack Wisner (Mid-Penn), and Tayshawn Golden (YAIAA) all won their respective league/conference championships at 800m. Looking for someone outside of the top 8 to have a break out, then look no further than Lebanon’s Riley Klick. He went out hard in the 800m at the LL League Championship and almost held on to win over Shue and Dorenkamp. He’s not afraid of a fast pace and if he can hold on down the stretch could break the 1:57.00 qualifying time.

Those committed to running in college next season from this race who haven’t already been mentioned are Servis (Lasalle) and Nate Shutter (Kutztown).


State Qualifying: Top 5+ any additional athlete bettering 11:10.00

The top 3 3200m runners in the state are competing in this event. Northern’s Marlee Starliper is coming off of a US Top 10 all-time performance at 3200m when she ran a state record 9:54.75 at the Loucks Games in New York. She is currently ranked PA#1 and US#2 at this distance. Starliper is also entered to compete in the 1600m and could run on Northern’s 4x800m relay team. She should win easily, but will likely attempt to save as much energy as possible for Saturday’s event. Warwick’s Kate Dickow and Cedar Crest’s Gwyneth Young will likely battle each other for the runner-up spot. They both ran great in the Penn Relays 3k in which Young (9:39.85) edged out Dickow (9:41.91). Those conversions to 3200m would rank them PA#2 and PA#3. Dickow just broke the LL League championships record this past weekend when she ran 10:37.90. Young did not race the 3200m. If the pace is fast, I could see as many as 12 girls break the 11:10 state qualifying barrier.

State Qualifying: Top 5 + any team bettering 9:35.48

Elizabethtown and Wilson will both have multiple athletes doubling back Saturday morning from Friday evening’s 3200m run. Not sure if that will have an impact on the race, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on. That said, the Elizabethtown girls have been rolling all season. They qualified for the Championship of America at the Penn Relays and will look to solidify their place at states on Saturday. Carlisle will likely challenge E’town for the victory. They have 4 individuals who have run 2:21 or faster so far this season. If they all run there is a good chance they will be in the lead heading into the 4th leg. E’town’s Katie Locker has the fastest 800m PR of the assumed anchor runners on team’s likely in contention at the end of the race. Should be a great event to kick off Saturday morning.

State Qualifying: Top 5 + any additional athlete bettering 5:10.00

This is yet another event in which additional athletes beyond the top 5 will likely surpass the state qualifying mark. 9 girls have already bettered the 5:10 qualifying standard with another 6 within 2 seconds. This appears to be another showdown between juniors Taryn Parks (Greencastle-Antrim) and Marlee Starliper (Northern). Parks won the US Indoor National Championships this past March in a race where she and Starliper ran identical times. Parks will be fresh coming into this race while Starliper will have already run the 3200m (night before) and potentially the 4×800 that morning. Starliper defeated Parks at the Penn relays in the mile run 4:42.30 to 4:46.73.

While Parks and Starliper may be the headliners, there are 5 additional state medal contenders in this race as a total of 7 athletes have already run sub-5 min. If the weather cooperates on Saturday, then District III could have 7 of the states top 10 ranked 1600m runners this season. 9 of the top 10 seeds in this year’s race will be back for the 2019/2020 HS season. The junior class in PA is loaded with distance talent. College coaches have to be watching this group very closely. Cedar Crest’s Gwyneth Young, just a sophomore, is the youngster of the group. Warwick’s Kate Dickow is the lone senior in the top 10. She is committed to running at the University of Richmond next year.

State Qualifying: Top 5 + any additional athlete bettering 2:18.47

Taryn Parks is the heavy favorite in this race. She is currently ranked PA#2 and US#21 in the 800m. The only thing that may hold her back from trying to break 2:10 would be if she is running on Greencastle-Antrims 4x400m relay team at the end of the meet. Milton Hershey’s Tatyana Gibson has run 5:01 at 1600m this spring, but is foregoing that race to focus on the 800m. Unlike Gibson who will be fresh for the 800, Katie Locker will be ending a busy day with the 800m. She is likely anchoring the top seeded E’town Bears in the 4×800 and is also running the 1600m. An athlete outside of the top 10 to keep an eye out for is CD East’s Makenna Krebs. The senior is headed to PSU and is focusing her efforts at 800m this weekend. Like Gibson, she has yet to run an 800m fresh this year. Krebs also has an 800m PR of 2:14. Of interest, Cedar Crest’s Shayla Bonzelet will be running the rare 400/800/200 triple this weekend.