A theme from this weekend’s events is that these opening week courses are very fast. That said, athletes are dropping a ton of time from their performances on these same courses from 1 year ago. The Big Valley Invitational was no different. This meet had the largest contingent of Central PA teams competing this weekend. 28 teams in total participated.
- Penns Valley junior Colten Sands continues to prove he is one of the state’s best distance runners. He took the victory over an impressive field running a new 5k PR of 15:48. His time was 36 seconds faster than he ran a season ago. He will be one of the favorites to win the state A title in 2019. Teammate Brendan Colwell (jr) placed 5th overall in 16:12. Together they may form the best 1-2 punch in Central Pennsylvania.
- Sands beat a strong contingent of athletes that included Mifflin Co junior Brayden Harris (4th in 15:58) and Juniata senior Garrett Baublitz (6th in 16:29) both of whom ran very strong races.
- State College proved they are one of the state’s best, and certainly the dominant team in PIAA District VI. The surprise of the day was the Little Lions Ben St. Pierre (sr) who placed 2nd overall with a big PR of 15:52. His previous PR was 17:01. A year ago at this meet he ran 17:46. St. Pierre’s leap forward is a very positive sign for State College this season. State College won the invitational title scoring only 40 points. The next closest team was Altoona with 99 points. The Little Lions placed their top 7 all within the top 17.
- Westmont Hilltop senior Nick Fetzer also broke the 16 minute barrier finishing 3rd in 15:58. He is the #12 returner in PIAA AA.
- Bellefonte Area’s Chase Ebeling was the meets top freshman. He finished 36th overall in a time of 18:14.
- Penns Valley was the top A/AA team in the field. They placed 4th overall.
- The State College girls opened their season in a big way on Saturday taking the top 3 individual spots and winning the team title with 59 points. Jordan Reed (jr, 19:21), Marlee Kwasnica (fr, 19:23), and Elly Haushalter (sr, 19:27) went 1-2-3 for the Little Lions.
- Reed lowered her PR and time from the 2018 Big Valley Invite by 34 seconds.
- Kwasnica joins a number of freshman girls who made very strong HS XC debuts this weekend. Keep an eye on her as the season progresses.
- Haushalter lowered her PR and time from the 2018 Big Valley Invite by 1:08!
Forest Hills was the top A/AA team placing 2nd overall. They placed 5 athletes inside the top 24 and had the smallest 1-5 spread of any team of 51 seconds. Two freshman are in the team’s top 5. The team has solid depth and could surprise in AA this season.
- Westmont Hilltop put in a dominating performance for a small school (A), finishing 3rd in the team standings. They had 4 girls finish in the top 20 overall. They defeated PIAA A #2 ranked Camp Hill (Camp Hill was without Laura Sakol) – penntrackxc state rankings. Look for Hilltop to challenge for a state top 5. Depth could be their biggest issue as the season progresses.
- Bridget Barbato (jr, 19:31) and Ellie Dorian (jr, 19:40) placed 4th and 6th overall for Westmont Hilltop.
- Of interest, in the JV race, State College took the first 7 places and put 9 girls in the top 11. The Little Lions aren’t leaving their spot as the top team in District VI any time soon.