Notes: District 6 was the most competitive district in PIAA class A last season. They placed 3 teams in the top 5 at the state meet, including the top 2. Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy won the state title while Marion Center finished 2nd. Westmont Hilltop placed 5th. At the district meet, Westmont Hilltop claimed the victory with 51 points. Marion Center was 2nd with 52 points and Saint Joseph’s Catholic was 3rd with 57 points.
Westmont Hilltop moves up to class AA this season.
In 2020, the top 2 teams and 10 additional individuals will qualify for the state meet.
Pre-Season Rankings (District VI class A)
1. Marion Center – Marion Center graduated 2 of their top 3 from 2019, but return strong depth evidenced by their #7 runner placing 28th in the district last season. Reagan Ryen (so) was the district’s top freshman last fall, finishing 4th at the district meet and then 40th at states. Indoors she ran a solid 2:28 for 800m. She’ll challenge for a state XC medal this year. Nevada Armstrong (jr) and Lilly Ryer (jr) are the #9 and #10 district returnees for 2020. This is a young team that will likely be without a senior in their top 5. They will be seeking a return trip to the podium at states this season.
(The battle for the 2nd team qualifying spot will be incredibly tight. Our model shows the next 3 ranked teams separated by only 4 points at the district meet. In other words, this is a toss-up!)
2. Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy – SJCA could take home the district title if they can find a solid #5 performer. Our model predicts that their top 4 runners neutralize Marion Center’s top 4 in points 39-39. Kate Youngmark (jr) is the #4 returner from the 2019 district meet; however, she was the district’s top performer at the 2019 state meet, finishing 10th overall. The team’s next 3 returnees were separated by only :07s at districts and are the #6-#8 returning runners: Brandi Carmack (so), Kathleen Simander (sr), and Camryn Eby (sr). All 3 had great indoor campaigns this past winter, setting numerous PRs. Simander advanced to the indoor state championships after running a 2:19 800m PR.
3. Penns Valley – Penns Valley enters the mix for a state qualifying spot after finishing 4th last season. They return everyone from that 2019 team. Look for Kelsey Hull (sr) and Alexis Dunn (so) to lead the way. They finished 6th and 12th a year ago and should both punch their tickets to states individually if the team doesn’t qualify. Dunn just missed a state medal last fall, placing 28th at the PIAA Championships. Danielle Fetterhoff (sr) is the #13 returnee and could also factor into the individual state qualifying conversation.
4. Portage – Portage makes a big move up the rankings after placing 8th in 2019. This was a young team last year and will likely have 5 underclassmen in their top 7 again in 2020. Last year’s district champion, Lauren Shaffer (jr), is back lead the team. She ran 19:11 take home the title a season ago and ended her season 50th in the state. A state XC medal is well within her grasps. She already owns a state track medal from her 6th place 400m finish in 2019 (57.98s). Freshmen Alex Chobany and Jenna Burkett could be top 15 finishers this season. Madelyn Hudak (jr) should also push for a top 15 performance. She was 25th in 2019. If Portage can find a solid #5 they could punch their ticket to states.
5. Purchase Line – Purchase Line comes in at #5, but will face a challenge from Juniata Valley and West Shamokin to stay in the top 5. They graduated their top performer from 2019, but do return everyone else. Tara Leamer is the team’s top returning performer. Look for freshman Mikeayla Ryen to push for a top 20 district finish this season.
Individuals to watch who are not on one of these top 5 teams (Returning District VI class A rank in parentheses):
Maggie McMullen, sr – Cambria Heights (#11)
Morgan Hess, jr – Juniata Valley (#12)