D3 Class AA Boy’s XC Preview and Preseason Team Rankings

The top 3 finishers from last year’s district championship meet are back and Weber Long (sr, Greencastle-Antrim) figures to defend his title. Weber has been good since he broke onto the HS scene back n 2018, but last year solidified him as one of PA’s all-time greats. While he didn’t have the state XC championship meet he envisioned, he still placed 3rd overall. His big breakout came at the state outdoor track and field championship’s when he broke the 9-min mark in the 3200m. Long then ran a sub-15 minute 5k on the track a week later. He and Archbishop Wood’s Gary Martin (sr) will face off in what will likely be one of the top state duals in the country.

You can learn more from Weber as he write for our senior journal series, found here.

Garrett Quinan (sr) placed 2nd in 2020 and was the low-stick on last year’s championship team, Kennard-Dale. He would place 6th a week later at the state meet. As the area’s top freshman a season ago, Colin Whitaker (so) was 3rd at districts and then 12th at states. He had a great track and field season and lowered his 3200m PR to 9:28.13. Looking to break into the top 3 this season will be Susquehannock’s Matthew O’Brien (jr). He was 7th a year ago and earned his first state medal with a 25th place finish. O’Brien had a breakout track and field season this past spring when he clocked 9:30.19 for 3200m and 4:26.67 for 1600m. Dylan Cunnigham (jr) gives Kennard-Dale two low-stick returnees. He was 8th at Districts and followed that up with a 20th place performance at states. While more known for his performances on the track, Schuylkill Valley senor Luke Seymour could contend for a state xc medal this fall. He is the #6 returner in the district and ran new 1600m (4:17.03) and 800m (1:52.75) PRs this past spring.

State Qualifying Breakdown: 3 Teams and the top 15 individuals not on one of the qualifying teams advance to the PIAA State Championships.

Team Rankings

1. Lampeter Strasburg – The Pioneers are the top team in class AA. If they stay healthy I could see them clearing the field by 40 points at the district meet. They have a great #1 runner in sophomore Colin Whitaker and they return a very experienced group of athletes behind him. Parker Stoner (jr), Adrian Ella (sr), and Luka Vranich (sr) could all be top 15 finishers at districts. Ben Devine (jr) is a sleeper. He was running in and around their top 7 last fall and popped a big 3200m PR of 10.16.96 this past spring. David Pritchard (sr) and Luke Smith (so) provided additional solid depth.

Coach Cunningham: “Losing only one runner to graduation 2021, this year’s team is ready to work hard and have a competitive season. Colin Whitaker finished his freshman season by coming in 12th at states. He has been motivated and training to improve and get stronger. There is a strong group of seniors this year who will be providing leadership. Top runners in that group include Luka Vranich,  Adrian Elia, and David Pritchard. Juniors Ben Devine and Parker Stoner and sophomore Luke Smith are ready to push to the front of the pack. Several other runners are looking to break into the top 8 during the season.

This group will be fun to watch as they push each other in practices and meets. The excitement and anticipation for a great season are evident already at preseason workouts. This is the most motivated team I have seen at LS and it will be fun to see what they can do.

2. Susquehannock – Matthew O’Brien will look to lead Susquehannock to a team spot at states. The junior had a breakout spring and should carry that momentum forward to XC. While I don’t see anyone challenging Weber Long, I do think O’Brien will be in the mix for the runner-up spot individually. This is another experienced group with 4 juniors and a senior returning for 2021. Nathaniel Coggins (sr) and Michael Snyder (jr) should compete for top 10 and top 20 district finishes, respectively.

3. Donegal – Donegal and Kennard-Dale will likely battle for the 3rd team qualifying spot in class AA. While Donegal doesn’t have the upfront power in #s 1 and 2 as does Kennard-Dale, they have a much closer spread, with less than 1-minute separating their top 4 returning runners from last season. Hunter Gehman (sr) will battle for a top 10 individual finish. Sam Rothstein (sr), John Spackman (jr), and Noah Hinkel (so) form a strong 2-4 trio.

Coach Koser: “We have 3 of our top 5 runners returning this season, and those 3 will pace the team.  Hunter and Sam could medal in post season meets too.  The overall success will depend on the consistency of our runners, especially #4-7.  If the squad can keep the time difference from our 1st runner to our 5th point scorer under 1 minutes and 30 seconds, we will win a lot of meets and perform well at Leagues and Districts.  Realistic goals are top 2 or 3 in section 2, and come post season have a chance to crack the top 10 at leagues and maybe the top 5 at AA Districts. 

Our moto is: The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack (Kipling).  We are trying to make sure we understand that when we take care of the little things, the things we have control over, we make the team stronger.  The team is the supporting and unifying element that makes us successful.  Hunter Gehman and Kyle Huncher will serve as team captains. 

We expect most of our meets to be competitive, but Lampeter Strasburg should be the front runner in our section and district.  We also saw Susquehannock at a scrimmage this week, and they look tough too. We are also excited to go to invites this fall and will be attending Big Spring’s Ben Bloser Invite and the Gettysburg Invite.” 

Coaches: Philip Koser, Head Coach (Second consecutive year as head coach, 18th year overall of coaching high school or junior high cross country at Donegal), Duane Koser (20+ years coaching high school and junior high) 

Last year’s record: 10-1 league (L-L Section Two runner-up, placed seventh at L-L League championship, placed fifth at District 3-1A championship) 

Key returners: senior captain Hunter Gehman (placed 22nd at 2020 L-L League championship, placed 23rd at District 3-1A championship), senior Sam Rothstein (placed 35th at 2020 L-L League championship, placed 51st at 2020 District 3-1A championship), junior Brandon Marcelo, junior John Spackman (placed 57th at 2020 L-L League championship, placed 52nd at 2020 District 3-1A championship), junior Dylan Lenhart, junior Zach Karpel, junior Braedan Bistline, senior Henry Warburton, senior captain Kyle Huncher 

Key newcomers: Soph Jack Hughes, Soph Ben Viselli, junior Noah Fitz, junior Ryley Carroll 

4. Kennard-Dale – Garrett Quinan (sr) and Dylan Cunningham (jr) are the real deal. They form the top 1-2 duo in class AA and both should qualify for states individually (if the team doesn’t finish top 3). Both had solid outdoor track seasons, running in the low-9:50s for 3200m.

Coach Twigg: “With 4 returners from our state qualifying team, we’re excited and working hard. Garrett Quinan (12) and Dylan Cunningham (11) come into the season looking to improve on their individual times and places at Districts and States. Parker Bradley (12), Matt Grohal (12), and Ian McPherson (12) have been working harder than ever to become the replacements we need in our top 5. Joel Thompson (12), Oliver Fromm (11), and Jordan Long (10) are also returners that will be in the mix. These guys are most definitely acclimated to the heat and the hills for this upcoming season.”

5. Greencastle-Antrim – Weber Long (sr) leads what should be a much improved Greencastle-Antrim team heading into 2021. In fact, the Blue Devils top 3 runners – Long, Dalton Noblit (jr), and Caden Hudson (jr) make them look like a state team qualifying contender. That said, too many question marks exist beyond the top 3 to move them up any higher on this list.

6. Wyomissing – The Spartans graduated 2 of their top 3 runners from a year ago, but return enough depth to remain competitive in class AA. Paul Monsour (jr) is the top returnee and has a good chance of qualifying individually for states. AJ Crisafulli (sr), Blake Hettiger (jr), and Owen Holst (jr) add quality depth. Cameron Cohen could be a freshman to watch. He was one of the top Berks Co Jr High XC performers as an 8th grader. A strong junior and freshman class could have Wyomissing knocking on state’s door in 2022.

Coach Hetrich: “The Spartans hope to capture a top 3 spot at the District Championship that allows them to move on to the State XC championship.  Key additions could be Jack Curran, Tyler Nolt, Cameron Cohen, Nole Aurentz, and David Giles.”

7. Bishop McDevitt – McDevitt may lack a true low-stick performer, but they have a solid 1-4 with a minimal :50-:60s spread. Senior Tony Myers projects as the team’s #1 runner.

8. ELCO – Like Bishop McDevitt ranked ahead of them, ELCO has a strong foundation of 4 returnees with little spread. In fact, at the LL League meet, only 30s separated their top 4 returnees. Camden Marquette (so) is the squad’s top runner entering 2021.

Coach Gerberich: “We have 3 boys returning that made districts in the new format last year.  Nathan Sanchez (Sr.), Jason Whelan (Sr.), and Landon Brubaker (Jr.).  Two of them did not run due to Covid tracing during the week of the meet.  We only have two other experienced runners returning, James Henry (Sr.), and Wesley Doll (Soph.).  It remains to be seen if any of our new sophomores or freshmen coming up can provide depth for our team.

9. Big Spring – Return their top 3 from last season. Trevor Richwine (sr) and Blake Wenger (so) could both qualify for states. Wenger ran a strong 10:14 3200m as a freshman in the spring while Richwine lowered his 800m PR to 2:01. If they find a #4 and #5 runner they could significantly outperform this rank.

10. Conrad Weiser – Weiser has a great 1-2 combo out front in senior Ben Madison and junior Holden Rice. Look for both to earn state qualifying berths this fall.

11. Berks Catholic – Paul Impellizzeri (sr) will pace the Saints this fall and he should have individual state qualifying aspirations. Catholic has developed a good base over the past few years. Their depth could carry them to a top 10 performance.

Coach Pickard: “The Boys’ look to improve on last years’ showing as they return a core of five runners that kept them close throughout the season in their division meets and placed 10th overall at counties.

12. East Pennsboro – Elijah McKell (sr) and Andrew Namatka (so) are both potential top 10-15 finishers this season and project as state qualifiers.

Coach Muhlhauser: “Our boys team will lose Micah Smith for the upcoming year.  Returning runners for this year include senior Elijah McKell, junior Anthony Agbay, and Sophomore Andrew Namatka.  They will lead our other returning and new runners.  Our boys team is looking to continue to improve on last year’s performance.”

13. Northern Lebanon – This is an experienced crew with 5 seniors (and a sophomore) returning. Damien Foore (sr) is the top returnee. Don’t be surprised if Ayden Krall (sr) has a breakthrough fall. He lowered his 3200m PR to 10:23 this past spring. This was nearly 2-min faster than he ran as a freshman in 2019.

Coach Schafebook: “This year we are looking forward to some post-season success from our leading pack of Seniors. We are returning some key competitors who are ready to step into their leadership roles this season.  Rounding out the team is a great group of underclassmen just waiting to gain some high school experience and varsity level success.  Key returners:  Ayden Krall, Tyler Meyer, Ben Brassart, Aidan Bertrand, Zach Herb, Sam Hillegas, Will Hillegas, Carter Cheslock.

14. Lancaster Catholic -The Crusaders return 5 from last season’s varsity squad and will be paced by senior Mason Moore. Moore will be looking to medal and qualify for states this year. Cooper Linkey (sr) gives Catholic a solid #2 and another senior leader.

Coach Simpson: “The boys finished 9-2 last year in Section II of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. It was a good year, but the post-saeson was a bit of a letdown. Matching that record will not be easy due to the graduation of #1 runnerDaniel Myers who will be moving on to Elizabethtown College in the fall. However, two very solid boys return, led by Mason Moore who qualified for the state track meet in both the 1600 and 800 this past spring. He will be closely followed by fellow senior Cooper Linkey who qualified for the 2021 district track meet in the 3200m run. After these two, there is a pack of contenders for the remaining spots on the varsity. Like the girls, we open with the Harrisburg Diocesan Meet at Rudy Park in York County on September 3rd.”

Top Returning Runners: Mason Moore; Cooper Linkey

Other Probable Varsity Runners: Owen Postlethwait; Alex Sheaffer; Joe Martin; Josh Bertz

Top Newcomers: John Bridgen; Colby Starr

15. Oley Valley – Graduation wasn’t kind to the Lynx. They do return senior Aaron Grim and welcome freshman Ben Debalko. Debalko placed 9th at the Berks Co Junior High Championships in 2020.

16. Susquenita – Senior Michael Singley returns to pace Susquenita. He has top 10 potential and will be looking to qualify individually to states.

17. Annville-Cleona – Could be a young squad for Coach Heller this season. Only 2 runners with post-season experience return this year. Look for freshmen don Hostettler and Matthew Clemson tp make an impact. Hostettler ran a 4:58 1600m this past spring.

Coach Heller: “With an even spread of experienced runners and newbies, the AC Boys are looking to be a more well-rounded team this year. Runners 1-5 should form more of a pack as they compete throughout the season. Many of our younger runners are dual-sport athletes so the best of the boys team may not compete all together until towards the end of the season. The coaching staff has been impressed with their dedication to their training this summer and are looking forward to having a memorable season where the focus is more team-oriented and becoming better together.”

Key Runners: Seniors Will Tshudy, Chase Watson, Junior Drew Dorsey, Freshmen Matt Clemson, Landon Hostetter

18. OctoraraLucas Thaler (jr) will look to have a bounce back 2021 post-season as he looks to lead Octorara again this year. The team returns everyone so expect improved performances this fall.

19. Fleetwood – Fleetwood could significantly outperform this ranking. They return 6 athletes from the 2020 BCIAA meet. Senior Jacob Fortna returns and provides the Tigers with a solid #1.

Coach Burkert: “Our top 3 runners our looking strong and with some new runners and  20 boys on the roster we should be able to fill in the rest of the spots.  Should be near the top of our division.”

20. Hamburg – Hamburg returns and experienced core with 4 upperclassman. Lucas Blatt (sr) advanced to districts last year and looks to lead the way.

21. Schuylkill Valley – Luke Seymour (sr) is coming off a tremendous 2021 track and field season. He lowered his 1600m PR to 4:17 and his 800m PR to 1:52. He as 2nd at the BCIAA XC Champs last season. He’ll look to win his first state XC medal this year in class AA. The Panthers return 6 from last season.

22. Eastern York – Anthony Roselli (sr) and Chase Curry (jr) give Eastern York a solid 1-2 punch. They return 5 of their top 7 from 2020.

23. Lancaster Mennonite – 1st year Coach Gehman will start the rebuild with a solid base returning in 2021.

Coach Gehman: “The goal is to bring back a greater passion for the sport of running to the LMH XC team this year. We have a larger roster than the past few years and everyone is excited for the season. Our top returner is Caleb Metzler and with him leading the team we hope to place in the middle of the pack at the District Championships.”

24. Bermudian Springs – One of the youngest teams in the district. Their top 4 returnees are all sophomores or juniors. May be a team on the rise.

25. LittlestownReturn 4 from last year’s conference team.

26. Middletown – Return 4 from last year’s conference team.

27. West Perry – Return 4 from last year’s conference team.

28 – Pequea Valley – This is year 2 for Pequea Valley since their return to XC competition. They return 4 from last year’s LL League meet.

NR. Biglerville

NR. Boiling Springs – A strong class of 2023 will pace Boiling Springs this year. Junior’s Tommy Crum and Jacob Sokolofsky are a good 1-2 duo.

NR. James Buchanan

NR. Susquehanna Township

NR. West York – Sophomore Steven Miller looks to have some good potential. He ran in the lower 18s last year as a freshman.