2020 LL League XC Championship Preview – Boys

Note – the LL League will be live-streaming the XC championships at this link – https://www.acschools.org/Page/5468

I will also be on-site providing updates throughout the race. Follow along @centralparunner on twitter. After the race, I will be posting a race video on our YouTube channel found here – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-r2VdoL4j1D6L_yQfdZpbA?view_as=subscriber

(You can watch the 2019 LL League Championship Videos here – Boys / Girls)

2020 LL League Regular Season Champions

Section 1 – Hempfield

Section 2 – Lampeter-Strasburg

Regular Season Review

The LL League will challenge the Mid-Penn as the most competitive league/conference in District 3 this season. In our current District 3 individual rankings, the LL and Mid-Penn each have 4 boys ranked in the top 10 in AAA. 4 of the top 10 ranked class AA runners also come from the LL League. That number is matched by the YAIAA who has 5 of the top 11 ranked performers.

Graham Thomas (sr, Penn Manor) and Colin Whitaker (fr, Lampeter-Strasburg) each cruised through their sections, going undefeated. Neither were challenged in any of the meets they competed in. Expect a competitive race on Tuesday. Thomas was recently featured in an article written by LNP’s John Walk. You can read that article here. The Temple University commit is the favorite heading into the league meet on Tuesday. He’s a likely top 10 runner in the state this year.

Looking to challenge Thomas will be Whitaker, JP McCaskey’s Stephen Schousen (sr), Hempfield’s Aidan Hodge (so), and Manheim Township’s Tyler Stevens (jr). Whitaker has run some impressive times on section 2 courses this season and looks to be the real deal. To help put his times into perspective consider this – he ran 16:29 on N. Lebanon’s course 363 days after Gage Krall ran 16:29 on it. Gage won the league title in 2019 and now runs for Lock Haven University. Schousen’s only loss this season came at the hands of Thomas. It was an off day for him and I expect him to battle for the individual title. Aidan Hodge is one of the top sophomores in the state. He runs with confidence and has become the #1 runner on arguably the district’s best team. Tyler Stevens placed 3rd overall, and 2nd in AAA, at the PIAA Foundation Invitational back on 9/26, running faster than several returning state medalists from 2019.

Did I already mention how strong the LL League is this season? Let’s continue…

Others looking to contend for top 5 finishes include Hempfield’s Dale Winand (jr) and Evan Eshleman (sr), Cedar Crest’s Tommy Bildheiser (sr) and Ryan Wolfe (jr), and Lebanon’s Isaac Showers (sr). More on Isaac later. Winand recently finished just 1-second back of Stevens at Manheim Township in a race won by Hodge. The 3 were separated by only 7-seconds. Eshleman and Bildheiser could be saving their best for the post-season. They join Graham Thomas as the top 3 returners from last season’s championship.

The talent doesn’t stop there. Ben Blough (so, JP McCaskey), Alex Miller (sr, JP McCaskey), Luke Hinegardner (jr, Cedar Crest), Joe Fahrney (so, Hempfield), Daniel Myers (sr, Lancaster Catholic), Jack Tshudy (sr, Annville-Cleona), Brock Overlander (sr, Donegal), and Lachlan McLane (jr, JP McCaskey) all have shown they can compete with the leagues best.

In a normal year, the 18 athletes mentioned above would all be state qualifying runners. Hempfield, Cedar Crest, and JP McCaskey would all have been in contention for 1 of the 4 team qualifying spots for states in AAA. Lampeter-Strasburg would have qualified as 1 of the 3 state qualifying teams from class AA. I expect the Pioneers to give Kennard-Dale a battle for the lone spot this season.

As it is for 2020, only 2 teams will qualify for districts from class AAA and class AA. In addition to the team qualifiers, 10 additional individuals will also qualify for districts. Expect a very competitive league championship meet!

League Meet Projections

Here are our projections for who qualifies into districts from the LL League this season:

Class AAA Teams (2)

Hempfield – the Black Knights are our pick to win the LL League Championships. They are loaded up front and have the best depth (5-7) of any team in the field. In fact, they will have a tough call on who will run as their #7 at leagues as at least 2-3 individuals could fill that spot.

Cedar Crest – the 2nd team qualifying spot will be a battle between Cedar Crest and JP McCaskey. This one could come down to each team’s #5 runners. Our model has the Falcons edging out the Red Tornados by a very slim margin. In reality, this is a toss-up.

Here’s a look at the top performers from each team and how they performed throughout the season. You make the call!

Class AAA Individuals (top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team)

Graham Thomas, sr Penn Manor

Stephen Schousen, sr JP McCaskey

Tyler Stevens, jr Manheim Township

Isaac Showers, sr Lebanon

Ben Blough, so JP McCaskey

Alex Miller, sr JP McCaskey

Lachlan McLane, jr JP McCaskey

Lou Lindsley, sr Penn Manor

Emmanuel Gitonga, jr Conestoga Valley

Anthony Solis, so Solanco

On the bubble:

Braden Schuyler, sr Manheim Township

Cole Schwartz, jr Manheim Township

Kaleb Kabakjian, fr Penn Manor

Owen Showers, sr Lebanon

Gunner Geib, fr Manheim Township

Luke Papadimitriou, so Manheim Township

Jeremiah Hetrick, jr Penn Manor

Note on Lebanon – at the time of this release, Lebanon is not being permitted (by their school) to compete in any extracurricular activities, including the LL League meet, due Covid spread at the high school. I know significant requests and discussions have occurred, but as of right now, they are out. As you see, we have Isaac Showers solidly positioned to earn 1 of the 10 individual qualifying spots. Owen Showers could also earn a spot. Both are seniors. You can sign their change.org petition asking to allow them to run here.

Class AA (2)

Lampeter-Strasburg – the Pioneers are one of the top 3 teams in all of District 3 AA this year. 4 of our current top 9 ranked AA runners in the LL League are from LS. Only 1 of their top 7 is a senior. Come next year, we may be talking about this team making a run at a state title.

Donegal – Donegal appears to be the clear cut #2 team in AA this season. 4 of their athletes rank in the top 13 of the league (AA) this season.

Class AA Individuals (top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team)

Daniel Myers, sr Lancaster Catholic

Jack Tshudy, sr Annville-Cleona

Trenton Brubaker, sr ELCO

Lucas Thaler, so Octorara

Mason Moore, jr Lancaster Catholic

Landen Brubaker, so ELCO

Nathan Sanchez, jr ELCO

Jason Whelan, jr ELCO

Patrick Hyrb, sr Lancaster Catholic

Tyler Meyer, jr N. Lebanon

On the bubble:

Damien Fiore, jr N. Lebanon

Cooper Linkey, jr Lancaster Catholic

Sam Bishop, jr Octorara

Ayden Krall, jr N. Lebanon