PIAA DIII Class A Boy’s XC Preview and Preseason Team Rankings

Class A will crown a new individual champion for the first time in 3 years. Mitchell Brett (Kutztown) took home the individual titles in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and is now off to Shippensburg University to compete for the Raiders this fall. York Catholic’s Moseley Driscoll (sr), Trinity’s Jasper Burd (sr), Tulpehocken’s David Bednarczyk (jr) Kutztown’s Jack Kornfeind (sr), and Trinity’s Connor Pushart (sr) figure to battle it out for the 2021 individual title. Kornfeind posted a 10:14 3200m this past spring and will look to ride that momentum into the fall. Burd ran a 4:37 1600m and Bednarczyk focused on the 800m, lowering his PR to 2:03. Those were the top track performances amongst the top XC returnees. Driscoll is the top class A returnee from the state meet last season where he placed 26th.

The team race should be close between the top 4-5.

State Qualifying Breakdown: 2 Teams and the top 10 individuals not on one of the qualifying teams advance to the PIAA State Championships.

Team Rankings

1. Trinity – Trinity gets the very slight nod at number 1 over Tulpehocken and York Catholic. The Shamrocks return 5 from last year’s postseason team and have two low-stick performers in Jasper Burd and Connor Pushart. These two form arguably the top 1-2 duo in the district. Owen Charles (jr), Jack Staul (sr), and Lucas Puig (sr) have all appeared to have improved during the spring track season.

Coach Pushart: “The 2021 Trinity Boys’ Cross Country team returns the majority of 2020 District 3 team who finished second to York Catholic.”   

The first test for the Shamrocks will be on September 3rd, at the Harrisburg Diocesan Cross Country meet.   

Key returners: Jasper Burd (SR), Connor Pushart (SR), Jack Staul (SR), Lucas Puig (SR), James Redmond (SR), and Owen Charles (JR).  Key additions: Isaac Burd (FR) 

2. Tulpehocken – “Tulpy” returns 5 of their top 6 from last year and welcome 3 newcomers who figure to make an impact. David Bednarczyk will look to make a return trip to states this season and should battle for the individual district title. Jayden Manbeck (jr) ran his best race of the year on the district course, earning himself a spot on the 2020 medal stand with a 10th place performance. Allen Ebersole (so) and transfer Ethan Guss (sr) give the Trojans two additional athletes who could factor into the top 10. Sophomore Clint Haws and freshman Nathan Crampton and Lewis Dieffenbach provide substantial depth at the back end of the top 7. Guss is the only senior of the bunch, so look for Tulpy to be at or near the top of the district for a couple of years.

Note – Trinity and Tulpehocken are the only class A schools in which all returning post-season XC runners also competed in track and field.

3. York Catholic – If last year’s team champion is to challenge for the top spot again in 2021 they will need to find replacements for their #2-4 runners who have all graduated. The bench is not empty, however, as they return 4 strong performers from last season’s squad. Look for Moseley Driscoll to lead the way. The senior just missed a state medal last year and will look to bring home some hardware this season. He is the #13 returnee from last year’s state championship meet. Sophomore Jack Driscoll and junior Daniel Geisselbach could challenge for a top 10 finish at districts.

4. Kutztown – If York Catholic is close behind Trinity and Tulpehocken, then Kutztown is very close behind York Catholic. In other words, any one of these 4 teams could earn the 2nd state team qualifying berth. I like what Jack Kornfeind did this past spring on the track and think he is an individual title contender. Graduating Mitchell Brett and Ryan Morstatt hurts, but they still return 5 from last year. Phoenix Kellogg (so) and Jake Justeson (jr) both appear capable of providing the Cougars with another low-stick to pair with Kornfeind.

Coach Neyhart: “We lost our top 2 runners from 2020 (Mitchell Brett -is now competing for Shippensburg University). Return Jack Kornfeind, Berks All Division, District 3 medalist and Phoenix Kellogg, Berks Honorable Mention. Have 3 experienced runners rounding out top 5, Jake Justeson, Justin Ashman, and Cooper Dunn. Newcomers Rylan Ebling and Corey Gilbert will contribute right away. Success will depend on the development of a pack and the spread from 2 to 5.”  

5. Fairfield – Fairfield returns their top 4 finishers from the 2020 district meet and will be led by senior Gabe Schubring. Schubring could provide the Knights with a top 5 individual finish. Levi Davis (sr) pairs nicely with Schubring up front to give Fairfield a competitive 1-2 punch. For this team to challenge those ranked ahead of them they will need to get solid improvement from their 3-5 runners. This is an experienced group, with 3 seniors and a junior in their returning top 4, so don’t be shocked to see them close the gap and outperform this ranking.

6. Delone Catholic – Delone returns 6 guys from last year’s post-season squad. This is a tightly packed top 6 where runners 3-6 are almost interchangeable. Expect Aden Davis (jr) to pace the Squires this fall. With no seniors currently projected in their top 5, this team could be a year away from competing for a trip to states.

Coach Zinn: “Our boys team was very Sophomore and Freshman heavy last year with a majority of the team and contributors to scoring being underclassman. Now as they have matured our boys team looks to compete at the District level. We did lose our prospective lead runner from last year, Christian Childs to transfer after he sustained a stress fracture at the beginning of the 2020 season. 9 of our top 10 who competed are back from last year and we have a strong incoming freshman class as well.”

7. Columbia – Columbia competed at districts last year with 5 sophomores. That experience, plus continued development, has them headed in the right direction. This team is only 4 years removed from having no athletes competing in XC. In 2018 and 2019, only 1 athlete was on the team. Now for 2021, in addition to the 5 juniors who return, look for freshman Matthew McNair to provide an additional spark. He was the 9th ranked class of 2025 performer from the 2019 LL League Junior High Championships (Iron Bridge).

8. Anchor Christian – Anchor Christian returns all 4 runners from last year’s team. Sophomore Logan Esbenshade appears to be a future individual title contender. He placed 13th last year as a freshman and will look to individually qualify for states this year.

NR. Camp Hill – I would be surprised if Camp Hill doesn’t field a complete team in 2021, but only 3 athletes return from last year’s post-season squad. Senior Nick Smeal figures to lead the way.

NR. Newport – Jacob Cummins (sr) will compete for a top 20 finish this fall.

NR. West Shore Christian – Graduated 3 of their 6 post-season athletes last year. This could be a very young team.

NR. Veritas Academy

NR. Harrisburg Christian

NR. Greenwood

NR. Christian School of York

NR. Covenant Christian

NR. Halifax

NR. Upper Dauphin