The Mid-Penn Conference girls championship featured the deepest team competition amongst the 4 leagues making up District III last season. This year will be no different. In 2019, 3 Mid-Penn Conference teams placed in the top 5 of the state and 4 finished in the top 9 in class AAA. Northern and Camp Hill each finished in the top 3 in the state in their respective classes. This could very well be the strongest conference in the entire state.
Let’s take a look back at the Mid-Penn team finishes from the 2019 State Meet:
2nd – State College
3rd – Hershey
5th – Mechanicsburg
9th – Carlisle
2nd – Northern
11th – Boiling Springs
3rd – Camp Hill
Look for Chambersburg to take over the top spot in the Mid-Penn this season. They return their top 5 from a team that likely would’ve finished top 10 in the state last season if District III class AAA received 5 team qualifiers. They have 4 of the top 12 returning runners from the 2019 Mid-Penn Championships back for 2020, have incredible team depth, and have at least 2 rising freshmen that could push for varsity positions this fall. Mechanicsburg, Hershey, Cumberland Valley, Carlisle, and State College aren’t far behind and any one of them could qualify for the state meet this season. Mechanicsburg may have only 1 senior in their top 7 this season so expect them to be a fixture at or near the top for year’s to come. Hershey is still one of the youngest teams in the conference and will likely have as many as 5 sophomores in their top 7. Cumberland Valley has a nice mix of upper and underclassman, including a couple of freshmen looking to make an impact. Carlisle loses Sophia Toti to graduation (now running at PSU), but has a very experienced group of upperclassmen back. State College will once again be the favorite to take home the District VI championship, even with the graduation of 3 of their top 5 from 2019.
Individually, the Mid-Penn will be crowning someone not named Starliper or Parks as conference champion this year. 3 sophomores could lead the way. Peyton Ellis (so, Boiling Springs), Camryn Kiser (so, Chambersburg), and Marlee Kwasnica (so, State College) were all state medalists as freshman a season ago. Junior’s Hope McKenney (Mechanicsburg), Kylee Cubbison (Mifflin County), and Emma Taylor (Hershey) will also be in contention for the individual title. The following athletes will find themselves battling for top finishes as well: Jordan Reed (sr, State College), Keira Whitehead (sr, Chambersburg), Olivia Rieck (jr, Chambersburg), Maddie Kinton (sr, Chambersburg), Olivia Walter (jr, Mechanicsburg), Gretal Shank (sr, Carlisle), Hannah Rohrer (jr, Palmyra), Lanie Grogg (jr, Cumberland Valley), and Isabella Weaver (jr, Greencastle-Antrim).
The conference’s top freshman is likely Claire Paci of Greencastle-Antrim. She won everything last year as an 8th grader. She took home the titles at PTXC, Ben Bloser, Carlisle Meet of Champions, and most impressively the Footlocker Northeast 13-14 year old 5k championships, running 19:54.
Team by team preview and conference rank:
1. Chambersburg (AAA) – The Trojans are the top team in the conference and potentially the district. They return their top 5 from last season, including state medalist Camryn Kiser (so). Kiser finished the season 14th at the PIAA class AAA championships. She continued her strong running indoors, placing 8th in the state in the one mile, running 5:10.65. Kiser will challenge for the individual conference title this year. The talent at Chambersburg is impressive and as many as 3 other runners could finish in the top 10 of the conference. Keira Whitehead (sr) is the #5 returnee in the conference, Maddie Kinton (sr) is the #7 returnee, and Olivia Rieck (jr) is the #12 returnee. These 3 all had strong indoor campaigns with everyone setting a 1600m or 1 mile PR. Abigail Bricker (so) returns as the #28 returnee.
The Trojans will welcome another strong freshmen class this season. Look for Alexis Boyd and Emma Foreman to make a run at a varsity spot. They’ll have a lot of competition though. Emma Armstrong (so), Jocelyn Shields (so), Emma Grove (jr), and Amelya Mauriello (jr) are all good runners and would be varsity competitors for nearly any other team.
Coach Monheim has a great group this season and they could be looking at a top 5 finish at states. They aren’t the only Mid-Penn team looking at a potential top finish at states. Mechanicsburg and Hershey could join them.
2. Mechanicsburg (AAA) – Mechanicsburg was off my radar last year, something they did a good job reminding me about since :). They aren’t off my radar this year! The Wildcats graduate 2 of their top 5, but return a deep squad and will welcome 2 potential impact freshman. They return the power up front to compete against Chambersburg. Hope McKenney (jr) and Olivia Walter (jr) can run with the best in the Mid-Penn and McKenney will be in the hunt for the individual title this season. She finished 5th a year ago and went on to place 5th in District III class AAA, 34th in the state, and 52nd at the Footlocker Northeast Championships. Walter placed 23rd at Mid-Penn’s and improved upon that performance at district’s, finishing 15th. Mechanicsburg should have a strong pack behind McKenney and Walter. Raihana Yameogo (jr), Faith Evans (so), Juliette Safer (sr), Leah Snyder (jr), and freshmen Alayna Williams and Carleigh Courtney could all challenge the 20-min threshold this season. Yameogo already has a sub-20 minute PR. Evans was one of the area’s top freshman a season ago, and owns a 20:05 PR from districts. Look for her to make a nice jump forward this fall. Safer made huge improvements between her sophomore and junior seasons, lowering her 5k XC PR from 22:01 to 20:24.
3. Hershey (AAA) – Hershey made their mark in 2019 with all underclassmen and 1 senior (Olivia Wilson, now running for Duquesne). In fact, 5 of their top 7 were freshman! Emma Taylor (jr) was a breakout star last fall. She lowered her 5k XC PR from 21:33 as a freshman to 19:09 as a sophomore. That performance earned her 12th place at the District III championships. She’s a state medal contender this season. With Taylor’s low-stick, and a slew of sophomores looking to make improvements in year 2, the Trojans could challenge for the conference title. The sophomores to keep an eye on are Brooke Preputnick, Taylor Simmons, Ally Wilson, Kadia Stover, and Rachel Lyn-Sue. Preputnick and Wilson competed and ran well indoors during their freshman seasons. Preputnick ran 5:35 for the 1600m and Wilson hit 11:15 for 3k. Hershey’s depth continues and you can expect Deirdre Fitzsimmons (jr), Kylie Dixon (jr), Julia Zakovich (jr), and Katie Ceneviva (sr) to push the sophomores for a spot in the post-season top 7.
4. Cumberland Valley (AAA) – Another Mid-Penn team with state aspirations are the Eagles of Cumberland Valley. CV had a much better districts last season than they did Mid-Penn meet and will almost certainly move up from their 6th place finish from a season ago. They return their top 6 and like the teams ranked ahead of them have a couple of potential impact freshmen. Lanie Grogg (jr), Chloe Warrell (so), and Brianna Wagner (sr) return after running sub-20 at the 2019 District III Championships. Grogg placed 25th at the 2019 district meet and advanced to the state championships as an individual. Warrell improved her fitness over the indoor season running an impressive 5:37 for 1-mile and 10:48 for 3k. Look for her to push Lanie Grogg to be the team’s #1 performer this year. Wagner equaled her 1-mile PR indoors this past winter running 5:32 and put up a solid 11:19 3k. Kate Vonah (jr) had an off day at the conference championships, but bounced back with a strong performance at districts. She ran a 19:50 5k XC PR at PTXC in 2019. Isabella Krutz (so) is Cumberland Valley’s 5th returning runner and she owns a PR of 20:49. Freshmen Kylie Robinson, Chloe Pyles, and McKenna Gerhart will push to make varsity spots before the end of the year.
5. Carlisle (AAA) – All-State performer Sophia Toti is now running for PSU, but everyone else returns for the Thundering Herd. This is an experienced bunch and Coach Ed Boardman has shown the ability to get his kids to peak come post-season time. Gretal Shank (sr) is Carlisle’s top returning runner. She had a strong district race and finished 23rd. Indoors she ran a mile PR of 5:29, so expect her to continue to improve in XC this fall. After Shank, Alyssa Dyson (sr), Karlin Powell (sr), Sophie Salomone (sr), and Claire Swenson (jr) form a tight pack. These 4 were only separated by :18s at Mid-Penn’s and :35s at districts. Dyson has great speed, evidenced by her 1:01 400m PR and 9.50s 60mH PR indoors this past winter. Powell also got a full indoor season under her belt. She dropped PRs in everything from the 800 up through the 3k. Salomone set indoor PRs in the 800m and 1-mile run. My point – the Carlisle girls are ALL getting faster. Freshman Addysen Fitzgerald could mix it up with this pack this season.
6. State College (AAA-District VI) – The perennial District VI class AAA power will be back at it again in 2020. They finished last season as the team runner-up at the state championships. Marlee Kwasnica (so) and Jordan Reed (sr) will rival Chambersburg’s Camryn Kiser and Keira Whitehead and Mechanicsburg’s Hope McKenney and Olivia Walter for the top 1-2 duo in the conference. Kwasnica and Reed are the #2 and #6 returnees from last year’s Mid-Penn Championship Meet. They placed 1st and 3rd at the District VI championships, both dipping under the 19-min mark. At state’s, Marlee placed 17th and Jordan placed 40th. Both had great indoor seasons as well, setting numerous PRs:
(Kwasnica – 400m – 1:02; 800m – 2:25; 1600m – 5:16; 3k – 10:53 & Reed – 1600m – 5:20; 1 mile – 5:22; 3k – 10:40)
You can follow along with Jordan Reed’s senior season in our “Senior Journal” series found here.
The Little Lions graduated remaining 3 of their top 5. Replacing those performers won’t be easy, but they have tremendous depth and experience returning. They will look to Karsyn Kane (sr), Maggie Leahey (sr), Vivian Scott (sr), Molly Solo (sr), and/or any number of approximately 7 additional runners with sub 21-min potential to step up to fill the gaps. State College could legitimately place 2 teams in the top 10 of the Mid-Penn this season.
7. Northern York (AAA) – With an enrollment increase, the Polar Bears will make the transition to class AAA this season for XC. To make things even more challenging, they will make this transition without state champion and Footlocker National runner-up Marlee Starliper, now at N.C. State. They also lose state medalist Katie Anthony to graduation. That said, Northern has developed one of the stronger distance programs around the area over the years. They return 5 strong and experienced runners in Allie Engle (jr), Madison Saltsburg (sr), Marissa Freed (sr), Dixie Ramsey (sr), and Anslee Depasqua (so). Engle and Saltsburg will look to lead Northern this fall. This entire group stayed active over the indoor season and will all look to make improvements during cross. Engle had the strongest performances indoors running 5:22 for the mile run.
8. Palmyra (AAA) – Palmyra returns everyone from last year’s team, including all-conference performer Hannah Rohrer (jr). She placed 12th a year ago and will be looking for a top 10 finish this season. She should challenge for an individual qualifying spot at the state meet. Riley Holsople (jr) gives the Cougars a strong #2. Palmyra then forms a strong pack behind Holsople, led by Sarah Galvan (sr). If this pack improves they could challenge Northern York for the #7 position.
9. Mifflin County (AAA-District VI) – Mifflin County graduates 2 of their top 4 from 2019, but do return star performer Kylee Cubbison (jr) and will welcome two impact freshmen. Cubbison finished 6th in the Mid-Penn a year ago and went on to place 2nd in District VI, running a PR of 18:57. She would finish the XC season by placing 36th at the state meet. Kylee continued her strong running indoors, qualifying for the indoor state meet in the 1 mile run where she’d finish 12th. She ended the indoor season with a mile PR of 5:11. Freshmen Addie Parsons will be a welcomed addition and could challenge for a conference medal. She is our #2 ranked Mid-Penn freshman this season (behind Greencastle’s Claire Paci). Classmate Ava Harris (fr) should also have an impact this year for Mifflin County.
10. Camp Hill (A) – “Small” school Camp Hill finds there way in the Mid-Penn Conference’s top 10 again for 2020. State medalist Laura Sakol graduated (now running for Bucknell University), but the Lion’s return 3 athletes who finished in the top 10 of last year’s District III class A championships. Grace Shartle (sr) and Janelyn Vorkapich (jr) return to lead Camp Hill in 2020. Anna Long (sr), Bramley Hawkins (jr), and Anjali Zumkhawala-Cook (jr) give them the additional firepower they’ll need to once again claim the district title. Shartle and Vorkapich could both earn themselves individual state medals by the end of the year.
11. Greencastle-Antrim (AAA) – Taryn Parks, 4x Footlocker National Finalist, indoor mile national champion, and multiple time state champion has graduated and is off to run at UNC. Her duals with Marlee Starliper in both XC and track and field will now transition to the ACC. The Greencastle-Antrim program will now turn to the more than capable Isabella Weaver (jr) to lead the way moving forward. Weaver is the #10 returnee in the conference and she ended her sophomore season with a 31st place finish at the PIAA class AA Championships. Like Northern, Greencastle moves up to AAA this season. Look for Weaver to make her 3rd state championship meet in a row. The Blue Devils will introduce freshman Claire Paci this season. Claire is our #1 ranked freshman in Central PA entering the 2020 season. She excelled in middle school XC and won the Footlocker Northeast 13-14 year old title last November. Look for her to battle for a top 5-10 finish at Mid-Penn’s season. She too could be state bound this year.
12. Boiling Springs (AA) – Boiling Springs welcomes new coach Abram Albert this season. He inherits a program that advanced to the state championships last year. He also has the #1 returnee in District III class AA on his roster in Peyton Ellis (so). Ellis was a star during her freshman campaign. She owns a 5k XC PR of 18:50 and ended the 2019 season 14th in the state and 13th at the Nike NE Regional meet. She was a dual sport athlete over the winter, running and swimming, and still managed to qualify for the indoor state championships in the 800m run. Her 800m indoor PR was 2:15. She’ll challenge for the conference XC title this season. Katryn Yocum (sr) and Julia Steel (so) are the #16 and #20 returnees in District III AA this year and compliment Ellis well. For a return team trip to Hershey, Boiling Springs will need to close the gap between their #3 and #4-7 runners.
13. Lower Dauphin (AAA) – Lower Dauphin finished 16th at the conference meet a year ago and should improve upon that performance this season. They return everyone from 2019 and have a nice mix of upper and underclassmen. They lack a “low-stick” runner, but the roster is solid. Ava Donahue (jr) is the team’s #1 returnee. She set an indoor 1600m PR this past winter and will look to continue to improve with XC this fall. Abbey Lennox (sr) is the teams #2 returnee.
14. Central Dauphin (AAA) – The Rams will turn over nearly half of their 2019 roster in 2020. The good news for Central Dauphin is that last year’s #1 runner Cali Bullers (so) is back. She consistently ran near 21:00 as a freshman. Speaking of freshmen, look for Makenna Kirk (fr) to make a positive impact for Central Dauphin this fall.
15. Shippensburg (AAA) – Shippensburg had a young roster last year and will return everyone for 2020. Samantha Herman (jr) is the team’s top returner and has a 5k XC PR of 21:24 from the Little Ship Invite last season. Freshman Grace Hipple could make a push towards the top of the Greyhound line-up this year.
16. Waynesboro (AAA) – Waynesboro placed 18th a year ago and will make a move up the rankings this season. They return everyone from a team that dropped a lot of time between the Mid-Penn Championships and the District III Championships. Their top 4 runners dropped a combined 3 min and 25 seconds between those two meets. Cora Helman (jr) was their top performer at both championship events, but the gap between the top 4 closed to only :43s at districts. Take this as a good sign heading into 2020.
17. Big Spring (AA) – Big Spring returns 4 athletes from last year’s post season squad. Mikaela Ward (so) had a great freshman season in 2019 and advanced to the state championship meet. She placed 21st at the district meet last year. She is the #25 returning runner from last fall’s Mid-Penn Championships. The Bulldogs will need to close the gaps between each remaining runner. If the team can form a tighter pack they will improve upon this preseason ranking.
18. Red Land (AAA) – The Patriots return a solid 1-2 duo in Amanda Kauffman (sr) and Madelyn Lersch (jr). Remaining depth is a big question mark heading into 2020.
19. James Buchanan (AA) – Hailey Embree (sr) gives James Buchanan a strong #1. She is the #26 returnee in District III class AA. Sydney Fleming (so) showed promise as a freshman in 2019 and will look to make a nice jump forward this year.
20. Bishop McDevitt (AA) – Bishop McDevitt only had 4 runners compete in the post season a year ago. The good news is that all 4 return. This group saw solid improvements throughout the year and will look to carry that momentum forward into 2020. June LaRegina (sr) is the top returning performer from 2019.
The following teams are unranked (NR) due to low returning participation numbers for 2020:
Cedar Cliff (AAA) – It’s a bit surprising that a school of Cedar Cliff’s size was unable field a complete team team last year. In fact, only 2 athletes competed at the Mid-Penn Championships. Hopefully an influx of freshmen will help to rebuild this program. Rory Gannon (fr) provides a good start. She had some good performances last year as a middle-schooler.
Central Dauphin East (AAA) – CD East has generated some talent over the years with small participation numbers. This year will be no different with middle-distance specialist Delaney Line (sr) leading the way. She owns an 800m PR of 2:17 and has advanced to several state championships (indoor and outdoor) in that event. She has a 5k XC PR of 19:30 from the 2019 LVC Invite.
East Pennsboro (AA) – 3/4 post season performers from a year ago are back, led by Alexandra Isbell (sr).
Middletown (AA) – Sophomore Kalie Brown is the loan returner for Middletown.
Milton Hershey (AAA) – Milton Hershey has opted out of athletics for the fall semester. They would have had no returnees for 2020.
Susquehanna Township (AA) – Could field a complete team this season as their 4 athletes from 2019 all return. Carleigh Walsh (jr) provides a solid #1 runner to build around.
Trinity (AA) – Only 2 runners return for Trinity in 2020. Alina Torchia (so) had a strong freshman year and finished 26th at the District III class AA Championships. She returns as the #15 performer from districts and could be looking for her first trip to states.
West Perry (AA) – West Perry returns 2 from their 2019 team. Cassandra Lanza (jr) is the top returnee and she owns a 22:28 PR from the Little Ship Invite last year.