2021 Ben Bloser Invitational – Meet Preview

Ben Bloser provides the closest thing to a pre-District 3 meet we will see this season. For those not familiar, the course run at Big Spring for the Ben Bloser Invite is the same course used for the PIAA District 3 Championship meet. The other great thing about this meet is that it serves as a “level-set” from previous weekend meets. Many of the early season invites are run on “fast” courses. Northampton, Keystone, PSU Spiked Shoe, and the LVC Invitational generally produce quick times for area athletes. PTXC 12.2 was also run last weekend and is likely considered by most to be a moderate course in difficulty. Ben Bloser also falls into what I would consider a moderate course in difficulty. With many runners competing this weekend from one of those previous weekend meets we should have a much better sense of who the top teams and individuals are by the end of the meet!

We preview each of the 4 varsity contests below. Enjoy!

Class A/AA Girls Race – 10:30am

This race features 5 of the CPAR top 8 class AA schools in District 3:

#1 Conrad Weiser, #2 Berks Catholic, #4 Trinity, #5 Boiling Springs, and #7 Lampeter Strasburg.

The race also includes the #1 and #3 ranked teams in class A in Tulpehocken and York Catholic. Tulpy may be negatively impacted by injury on what is a small team in numbers to begin with.

Individually, look for Boiling Springs Peyton Ellis (jr) and Conrad Weiser’s Sydney Werner (jr) to battle for the win. They should get pushed by Lancaster Mennonite’s Claire Thomas (so), Kennard-Dale’s Angelina Hammond (so), Eastern York’s Kaydence Strange (so), Lampeter Strasbourg’s Jaclyn Martin (so), and Fairfield’s Honey Strosnider (sr). A 4-some of freshmen could also make their names known this weekend. Keep an eye on Trinity’s Lila Shore, Conrad Weiser’s Indiana Auchenbach, Tulpehocken’s Abby Gehris, and York Catholic’s Madeline Murphy.

Here is a look at the above mentioned athletes performances to date in 2021 (based upon the results I have received):

Class AA

Class A –

Class A/AA Boys Race – 11:15am

This race features 7 of the CPAR top 8 teams in class AA, missing only #6 ranked Wyomissing. This could be the race of the day, both team and individually.

Featured in the team race from Class AA will be:

#1 Lampeter Strasburg, #2 Greencastle-Antrim, #3 Susquehannock, #4 Boiling Springs, #5 Conrad Weiser, #7 Kennard-Dale, and #8 Northern Lebanon.

#1 ranked Trinity, #3 ranked Tulpehcoken, and #4 ranked York Catholic will represent the top class A teams in the field. Tulpehocken is coming off a big regular season victory over #2 ranked Kutztown earlier this week. Could they upend Trinity this weekend?

Individually, this race features 7 of my currently ranked top 10 individuals and 12 of my top 15 (in class AA). Look for Weber Long (sr, Greencastle-Antrim) to make an early season statement at this meet. Noah Affolder (Carlisle) holds the course record with a 15:17 time from the District 3 meet. The fastest time run at the Ben Bloser Invite was Nathan Henderson’s (JP McCaskey) 15:29. Both performances occurred in 2017. Could Long challenge these on Saturday? Colin Whitaker (so, Lampeter Strasburg), Matthew O’Brien (jr, Susquehannock), and Garrett Quinan (sr, Kennard-Dale) are all likely to keep Long within their sites. These 3 were all state medalists a season ago.

UPDATE – Weber Long will be competing at the Adidas XC Challenge in Raleigh

District 6 athlete, Logan Strawser (Juniata, jr), should factor into the top 5 on Saturday. He placed 2nd at the Big Valley Invitational 2 weekends ago in a time of 16:17.

Look for Jasper Burd (sr, Trinity) and Moseley Driscoll (sr, York Catholic) to battle for early season bragging rights as to who may be the top runner in class A. Allen Ebersole (so, Tulpehocken) has also been running well early in the season and could look to break-up Burd and Driscoll.

Here is a look at some of the top District 3 performers competing in this race (based upon the results I have received this season):

Class AAA Girls Race – 12:00pm

6 of the current top 10 teams in our class AAA rankings will be competing on Saturday. This grouping includes:

#1 Dallastown, #2 Governor Mifflin, #5 Wilson, #6 Chambersburg, #7 Mechanicsburg, and #9 Exeter Township.

This race features an incredible amount of District 3 individual talent. In fact, 7 of my top 10 ranked class AAA individual runners will all be competing. Add in 5 more ranked inside the top 20 and you should have one heck of a race! I expect a strong pack to form out front that will include the Wilson senior duo of Katie Dallas and Caryn Rippey, Greencastle’s Claire Paci (so), Governor Mifflin’s Kaitlyn Highduch (so), Mechanicsburg’s Olivia Walter (sr), and Chambersburg’s Camy Kiser (jr).

Katie Dallas edged out Kaitlyn Highduch on her home course earlier this week, 18:37 to 18:41. Both have clocked multiple sub-19 min performances this season. Olivia Walter is coming off a sub-19 minute performance on her home course this past Tuesday. Claire Paci ran 18:54 at the Oatland’s Invite (VA) last weekend. Caryn Rippey ran 18:54 at home in week 1. Camy Kiser nearly broke 19-min at PTXC 12.2 last weekend.

UPDATE – Claire Paci will be competing at the Adidas XC Challenge in Raleigh

From District 6, look for Kylee Cubbison (sr, Mifflin Co) to battle with the best in the field. She ran 19:30 last weekend at PTXC 12.2.

Here is a look at some of the top District 3 performers competing in this race (based upon the results I have received this season):

Class AAA Boy’s Race – 12:45pm

4 of the top 10 ranked teams in District 3 class AAA will be competing on Saturday. These teams include:

#4 Chambersburg, #6 Exeter Township, #7 Mechanicsburg, and #10 York Suburban. I also think that #12 Governor Mifflin could challenge one or more of these team’s this weekend.

Individually, I am excited to see how the race plays out between Central Dauphin’s TJ Roden (jr), Exeter Township’s Alex Holbrook, and the York Suburban duo of Cole Adams (sr) and Grant Kern (sr). Last weekend, Roden ran a quick 15:48 at LVC while Holbrook PR’d in 16:06 at PTXC 12.2. I think these 4 can separate from the field, but I do expect Carter Paul (jr, Mechanicsburg), Zack Zerbe (so, Governor Mifflin), Nick Monheim (sr, Chambersburg), Ben Blough (jr, JP McCaskey), and Elijah Stoudt (so, Wilson) to try to keep pace.

Here is a look at the above mentioned athletes performances to date in 2021 (based upon the results I have received):

Be sure to follow along with me on twitter and instagram, both found at “centralparunner.” I will be providing live updates throughout the day.