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

York Catholic took home the 2020 crown over YAIAA rival Delone Catholic. York Catholic placed all 5 runners in the top 16 of last season’s race and return everyone for the 2021 season. Their top 5 could all place inside the top 10 this year. They are your pre-season favorite. Look for Annville-Cleona to snag the 2nd team qualifying berth for the state meet. Tulpehocken may be the sleeper team out of class A. They appear to have a rebuilt squad, including at least 3 underclassman contributors.

Individually, Annville Cleona senior Braetan Peters will look to defend her 2020 title. Teammate Cassi Clemson (jr) was runner-up last year. Peters enters the 2021 XC season coming off of a strong junior campaign in which she won a state XC medal (21st) in the fall and then set a new 3200m PR of 11:37 in the spring. Fairfield senior Honey Strosnider will look to have a bounce back post-season and may be the closest challenger to Peters.

You can follow along with Braetan’s season (here) as she is one of our senior journalists for this school year.

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. York Catholic – York Catholic looks to defend their 2020 title with what should be an even stronger team this year. All 6 post-season runners return for 2021, with the top 5 being separated by just 1-minute at the district meet last fall. Juniors Magdalene Motter and Madelyn McKee along with senior Aleya Miller are the top 3 returnees for the Fighting Irish. Senior Gabbie Tully and sophomore Briana Bradley will also challenge to be in the team’s top 3. All are potential district top 10 finishers this fall.

2. Annville-Cleona – The Little Dutchmen could make some noise if depth behind Peters and Clemson takes shape. It’s not often a team has the top 2 district returnees, but that is the case for Annville-Cleona. Coach Heller has done a good job developing depth and creating interest in XC. If they have good turnout again this year, they could surprise York Catholic.

Coach Heller: “The AC Girls come back this season filled with experienced leaders and the desire to compete on that Saturday morning in November. The top runners should look familiar with some newer faces rounding out the top 7. Their summer training has been going well and it’s been amazing as coaches to watch their knowledge as runners grow from season to season. The team is focused on closing the gap within our top 5 runners, and putting together complete races from start to finish. The coaching staff is excited to be a part of this upcoming season with a core group of girls who have changed the team culture for the better.

Key Runners: Seniors Emily Manwiller, Braetan Peters, Juniors Cassi Clemson, Nory Mitchell, Sophomore Megan Brophy, Emily Maag, Freshmen Colbey Brown, Emilie Stefanchik

3. Tulpehocken – This may be a stretch for a team that only had 2 athletes compete at districts a year ago, but the roster appears to have been rebuilt and juniors Bella Headley and Vanessa VanTiggelen will provide some experienced leadership. Freshmen Abbie Gehris and CC Crampton, along with newcomers Sophie Guss (so) and Rachel Cox (jr) make this an interesting team to follow in 2021.

4. Delone Catholic – The graduation of Julia O’Brien and Becky Hernandez hurts, but Delone returns enough to still challenge for a state team berth. As a freshman a season ago, Samantha Smith finished 11th. She and senior Annabelle Biggins should both compete for a district medal this year.

Coach Zinn: “Sam Smith looks to make large improvements off of last season by having a great preseason of training. Annabelle Biggins looks to be close behind. Sophomores Emma Bunty and Lilly Dessecker have improved over the last year and look to be contributors this season. Senior Jessica Crawford is also improving and should help us in scoring this year.

5. Covenant Christian – The top 4 performers from 2020 return in 2021. Sophomore Olivia Lentz figures to lead the way. She was 10th a season ago.

6. Camp Hill – Seniors Hannah Goodyear, Sophie Scherkoske, and Bramley Hawkins are the team’s top returners. Filling in the roster around these seniors will be key.

7. Susquenita – One of the younger team’s in the district, they may be without a senior in their top 7. Aubrey Richards (so), Ashlyn Albright (jr), and Rachel Singley (so) all performed well on the track this past spring and could be in for an improved 2021 XC season. I could see this team outperforming this pre-season rank.

The following schools are unranked because of too few runners:

NR – Fairfield – Honey Strosnider (sr) will look to earn an individual state qualifying berth. Expect her to be Braetan Peters closest challenger for the individual title.

NR – Newport – Olivia Valentine (sr) will battle for a top 5 individual finish this fall.

NR – Greenwood

NR – Columbia

NR – Linden Hall School

NR – Anchor Christian

NR – Halifax

NR – Veritas Academy

NR – Upper Dauphin