2020 looks to be the year of the Bulldog in the BCIAA. Wilson has a loaded group of girls (all from the class of 2022) and they seem primed for a big season. They could put as many as 3 in the top 5; 4 in the top 10; and 5 in the top 15. Our pre-season BCIAA rankings score Wilson at half the number of points as the 2nd place team. An unknown heading into each season is the impact newcomers could have on the race. The 2019 Berks County Junior High Champion was Governor Mifflin‘s Kaitlyn Highduch. She’ll join a deep and talented Mustang roster. Exeter appears to have the deepest freshman class and if 1-2 of those freshman hit big then the gap between them and Wilson shrinks. Exeter has at least 2 impact freshman and as many as 4 that could challenge for a varsity spot. Mifflin and Exeter are the most likely teams to challenge Wilson.
Individually, its hard to imagine Caryn Rippey not repeating as county champion. The Wilson junior had a ton of success in her first high school XC season a year ago. She won the BCIAA title and went on to finish 4th in the district and 12th in the state. Kutztown senior Erika Moriarty is the only returning runner that finished within 1 minute of Rippey’s time at the district meet. She went on to have post-season success winning the District III class A title and placing 9th in the state. You can follow along with her senior season here in our Senior Journal series. Wyomissing‘s Grace Kuhn is the #2 returner from the 2019 BCIAA meet. She finished 8th in the District III class AA Championships and then placed 18th in the state. Wilson’s Emily Foight (jr) and Ella Kahn (jr), and Twin Valley’s Laura Posh (so) have run sub-20 minutes in post-season events. Conrad Weiser’s Sydney Werner (so) may have been off of her form at BCIAA, but went on to run the 5th fastest returning time amongst county runners at the district championships.
Team by Team Previews and Pre-season Ranks:
1. Wilson (AAA) – Wilson looks like they could be dominant this season and the Bulldogs should factor heavily into the District III AAA team race. Their class of 2022 is a special group. Individually, Caryn Rippey seems to be a girl on a mission. Indoors she ran to a 7th place finish at states in the mile. Outdoors she ran a 3200m PR in a time trial, going 10:50. She recently ran a trail 5k and hit a new PR of 17:25. She’ll contend for an individual district title and could challenge for state gold. Emily Foight and Ella Kahn are top 30 returnees in the district. When Foight and Kahn aren’t running you can find them tearing it up in the pool. Grace Mangold (jr) adds even more depth and is the #35 returnee in District III. Mangold ran a 3k PR indoors this winter. Katie Dallas (jr) is the 5th junior in this group. She too set indoor PRs this winter in the 200m, 300m, 400m, and 800m. All 5 are ranked in the BCIAAs top 12 returnees for 2020. Come fall these girls will be ready to roll!
2. Governor Mifflin (AAA) – No team lost more than Governor Mifflin did in their top 7 as 5 girls graduated last spring. That said, no team may have the depth that the Mustangs have. Returning as top contenders are Sabryna Collins (jr) and Rachel Ulrich (jr) who placed 6th and 8th respectively as sophomores last season. Look for sophomores Emmy Angstadt and Paige Fryberger to make a big jump forward this season. Both got an indoor season under their belts and will use their first year of experience to propel them forward. Mifflin adds arguably the county’s top freshman in Kaitlyn Highduch. This team is set up very well now, and for the future.
3. Exeter (AAA) – Exeter loses 3 of their top 4 from 2019, but like Governor Mifflin they rebound nicely. Kira Marr (jr) is back to lead the team in 2020. She placed 12th in the county a year ago and will have district medal aspirations this fall. Gabby Hassler (jr) and Rachael Smith are the #13 and #17 returnees from the 2019 BCIAA Championships. Hassler set an indoor mile run PR this past December. Corinne Scherer (jr), Leahnessa Ortiz (so), and Helene Shevick (jr) could all finish inside the top 25. The Eagles will welcome what may be the BCIAAs top freshman class. Look for Gabrielle Keith (fr) and Cassandra Miller (fr) to make a run at team top 5 positions. Exeter may have the best depth in Berks County.
4. Wyomissing (AA) – The Spartans return everyone from their 2019 team that finished 6th at the District III class AA Championships. They will likely find themselves in prime position for one of the 3 state qualifying berths in AA this year. Grace Kuhn (sr) leads the way for Wyomissing. She placed 3rd in the county a year ago before finishing 8th in the district and 18th in the state. She had her best indoor season to date this past winter and lowered her one mile PR to 5:16. Look for her to have a big senior season. Olivia Fisher (jr) gives Wyomissing a solid #2 runner behind Kuhn. She’s a top 20 returnee in the county and is the #13 returnee in the district. Very little separate their next 4 returning performers from 2019. In fact, only 16-seconds separated these 4 at the district meet: Maya Smerek (jr), Caitlyn DeNapoli (sr), Addie Mathis (jr), and Maddie Hyde (so). Freshman Addie Cohen finished only 2-seconds back of Mifflin’s Highduch to finish 2nd at the Berks Co Jr High Championships. Look for her to make significant contributions for the Spartans this fall.
5. Daniel Boone (AAA) – Daniel Boone returns solid depth for 2020, including the return of their top 2 performers from last fall, Hannah Santos (jr) and Ashley Benoit (sr). Santos is the #10 returnee from the 2019 BCIAA Championships while Benoit is the #16 returning athlete. They graduate their #3 and #4 runners from last season, but if Renee Camburn (jr), Grace Habecker (so), Olivia Poore (so), and Aaliyah Hedrick (so) improve they could fill those gaps. Only :30s separated them at the BCIAA meet a year ago. Natalee Kryman could be one of the county’s top freshman and should make an impact. Good news for Boone is that with their depth they should have a battle for who makes their post-season team.
6. Twin Valley (AAA) – Twin Valley will be led by sophomore Laura Posh. Laura ran to a 9th place county finish in 2019 as a freshman and broke the 20 minute barrier several times throughout the season. She continued her strong running indoors. She’ll push for a top 5 finish this fall. Anna Posh (sr), Angelena Minardi (jr), and Sarah Miller (so) provide solid support. Miller ran a strong 2:25 800m indoors. Keira Monaghan (so) and Julia Ruck (fr) are two additional underclassmen to keep an eye on. The Raiders have been 6th or 7th at the BCIAA championships the past 3 years, but are close to breaking through and into the top 5.
7. Conrad Weiser (AA) – Weiser was 9th a year ago, but return 5 of their top 6. Sophomore Sydney Werner seems ready to break out. She’s the #19 returnee from last year’s BCIAA meet, but only 5 girls in the county ran faster than her 20:06 from the district meet one week later. She had a great first indoor track season as well running a 5:24 1600m and 11:01 3k. Bella Auchenbach (jr) could push for a top 20 performance this year and gives the Scouts a strong #2.
8. Berks Catholic (AA) – The Saints have a large team for a “smaller” school. They lose their top runner from last season, but had such a tight pack that the #1 runner could’ve been any number of runners throughout the year. Their top 5 returners from 2019 all ran within :44s of each other at BCIAAs. At Districts, Michaela Burkey (so) and Abby Wolf (jr) emerged as the team’s top 2. With a nice mix of juniors and underclassman, the Saints are in really good shape in the years ahead.
9. Kutztown (AA) – Kutztown makes the move to class AA this season. Returning state medalist Erika Moriarty (sr) will lead the way again in 2020 and will look for her second cross country state medal. SHe’s been putting in the work and will look to have a big senior season. Sophia Arnold (jr) and freshman Lily Asplundh will likely round out the Cougars top 3.
10. Oley Valley (AA) – The Lynx graduated 5 of their top 7 from last year’s 6th place team. The good news for Oley Valley is that they return a strong #1 runner in Ava Lottig (jr). She finished 12th at districts and advanced to states last season. Senior Camille Bertin provides solid experience and ability in the #2 spot.
11. Schuylkill Valley (AA) – Schuylkill Valley returns everyone from what was a very young team a year ago. At the Berks County meet, 6 sophomores and 1 freshman made up their top 7. Averi Hidalgo (jr) is back to lead the Panthers in 2020. She’s a top 15 threat in the county and will be looking for a return trip to the state championships. She made a nice progression from freshman to sophomore years. A similar improvement could land her top 10 in Berks. If the pack of runners behind Hidalgo can make a nice jump this season then Schuylkill Valley will outperform this rank.
12. Fleetwood (AA) – Fleetwood returns their top 6 from last year’s post-season team. Lauren Paules (jr) was team #1 a year ago and will be looking for a top 30 finish at the Berks County Championships this season.
NR. Muhlenberg (AAA) – Muhlenberg returns 3 athletes from last year’s team. They are unranked because they were unable to field a full team last season. Hopefully that changes this year. Jineylis Sierra (jr) is the teams top returner.
NR. Reading (AAA) – Reading has opted out of fall sports this season. Reagan Dotson (jr) and Tamara Ramos (so) would have both been top 40 contenders in Berks.
NR. Tulpehocken (A) – Vanessa Vantiggelen (so) is the loan returner for Tulpehocken. Hopefully she can help to recruit a young corp to join her to help Tulpy build for the future.