PIAA District 3 Class AAA XC Championships – Girls Preview

When: October 30, 2021 – 1:15PM

Where: Big Spring High School

The field is set, and 220 athletes are registered to compete at Big Spring on Saturday, October 30. When the new qualifying standards were released early in the season, 22 teams were to receive automatic qualification to the District 3 XC Championships. An additional 66 runners would qualify from non-automatic qualifying teams. If any one team had at least 5 individual qualifiers, then they too would be able to score as a team at the district meet. This is the same format that the PIAA State Championships have been using for years. That said, here are the 27 teams that will be scoring as a team at the 2021 District 3 Class AAA Championships:

Key Injuries

Injuries could make a significant impact on at least 3 teams with state qualifying aspirations. An injury to Kailey Granger (jr) could make Dallastown’s championship aspirations more difficult. Granger had been running as the team’s #1/#2 runner up until her injury. She did not compete at the YAIAA Championships and her status is unknown for Saturday. Another athlete currently out with injury is Governor Mifflin’s Kaitlyn Highduch (so). Highduch was looking like a potential district title contender up until her injury. She did not run at BCIAA’s. Lastly, Chambersburg senior Olivia Rieck was a late scratch from the Mid-Penn Conference Championships. In the projections that follow, these 3 athletes are not included.

UPDATE: Highduch is not listed as one of the entries for Governor Mifflin and is officially out. Granger and Rieck are both amongst the 8 runners listed for their respective teams (only 7 will run).

Team Race

The top 5 teams will advance to the PIAA State Championships.

Dallastown has been the #1 ranked team in our District 3 XC polls since the pre-season. They have top end talent and incredible depth, exactly what one needs to make a deep run in the post-season. Lydia Tolerico (sr) is coming off an individual YAIAA title and should battle for a top 5 finish at districts. Freshmen have made a huge impact for Dallastown this season and all 3 have been showing improvements late in the season. Victoria Rodriguez (fr), Natalie Good (fr), and Lexi Federline (fr) will be integral parts of the Wildcats title run. Mae Treml (so) has the potential to be a district medalist, but has been battling back from an early season injury. The potential loss of Kailey Granger hurts, but the Wildcats depth should still carry them through to the team title. Allison Hartman (jr) and Olivia Brenneman (so) will displace many top 5 runners on other teams. This is a program built for long-term success. Tolerico is the only senior and the Wildcats middle school program put 6 in the top 10 at PTXC 12.2 and 3 in the top 10 at the Carlisle Meet of Champions earlier this fall.

Mechanicsburg appears to be the team most capable of challenging Dallastown up front. They may have the best 1-2-3 trio in the district with Olivia Walter (sr), Hope McKenney (sr), ad Raihana Yameogo (sr). These Wildcats don’t have the same depth #1-7 as the Dallastown Wildcats, but their #4 (Faith Evans, jr) and #5 (Leah Snyder, sr) runners have been moving up our individual rankings each week and should keep it close. This team knows how to peak. They are a legit threat to Dallastown.

The ladies from Hershey are on a mission. They lost out on a chance to advance to their 2nd state championship meet in a row last season due to COVID. With the majority of their 2019 and 2020 squad back, look for them to earn a return trip to Hershey. Brooke Preputnick (jr) has turned into a legit #1 runner and should battle for a top 5-10 place finish at Big Spring. Expect minimal spread between their #2-4 athletes – Emma Taylor (sr), Ally Wilson (jr), and Rachel Lyn-Sue (jr). Their next 3 runners will also be running as a group. Kylie Dixon (r), Zoe Simmonds (fr), and Julia Zakovich (sr) will look to minimize the spread between themselves and their #2-4 pack.

Coming off a LL League title, the Manheim Township girls appear to have what it takes to grab one of the 5 state qualifying berths. The emergence of freshman Elena Barrall gives Township 2 low-stick athletes when combined with sophomore Ava Shirk. The two finished 2nd and 3rd respectively at the LL Champs. Shirk missed state qualifying last year by 1-second as the first girl out in the reduced 2020 state field. Macyn Fogleman (fr) and Jenny Weiss (sr) have alternated as Township’s #3 runner throughout the season. Avery Ebersole (sr), Sarah Russo (sr), and Marina Papadimitriou (so) provide incredible depth. Look for minimal spread between their #3-7 runners.

The 2021 Berks County Champion, Exeter Township, may have the tightest #1-5 spread amongst all district qualifying teams. At BCIAAs, only 41-seconds separated their top 5 – Kira Marr (sr, 20:15), Maddie Holbrook (fr, 20:33), Gabby Keith (so, 20:35), Helene Shevick (sr, 20:50), and Gabby Hassler (sr, 20:56). Katie Ryan (jr) and Rachael Smith (sr) finished close behind in 21:26 and 21:39. Marr and Holbrook both appear to be on the fringe of earning a district medal (top-20).

No team is as impacted by injury as Governor Mifflin with the potential loss of Kaitlyn Highduch. Highduch was looking like a top 5 runner in the state until injury. Had she not gotten injured, the Mustangs would be ranked #3 in our team projections. Without her in the line-up they drop to #6. This is still a team that can break into the top 5 and earn a state qualifying berth. Freshman Lydia Drago has been running great this season and is coming off of a 3rd place finish at BCIAAs. She should have district medal aspirations on Saturday. A solid pack should follow in Faith Drago (jr), Emily Gauker (so), Rachel Ulrich (sr), Emmy Angstadt (jr), and Paige Fryberger (jr). Only 53-seconds separated these 5 at the county meet.

Chambersburg, Northeastern, and Wilson are 3 other teams to watch on Saturday. If at full strength, Chambersburg has the best chance to crack the top 5. Northeastern and Wilson both enter Saturday with a ton of post-season experience. If none of these 3 crack into the top 5, look for them to contribute 5-6 runners as individual qualifiers for the state meet. Wilson’s Caryn Rippey (sr), Katie Dallas (sr), and Grace Mangold (sr) went 1-2-8 at BCIAAs. Camy Kiser (jr, Chambersburg) was 3rd at Mid-Penn’s. Northeastern seniors Bella Treglia and Marissa Pritchett placed 4th and 5th respectively at YAIAAs.

Here is how we project the PIAA District 3 Class AAA team race to play out:

Individual Race

The top 25 individuals, not on one of the 5 state qualifying teams, will advance to the PIAA State Championships.

Claire Paci (so, Greencastle-Antrim) is our favorite to bring home the district title. She recently won her 2nd Mid-Penn title in as many years, defeating Carlisle’s Vanessa Alder (jr) by 2-seconds. Paci came close to breaking 18-minutes at the Carlisle Invitational (18:13) and could challenge that mark at Big Spring, weather dependent. Alder used a very strong 2nd half to close the gap with Paci at Mid-Penns. She will factor into the individual title hunt as well. The Mid-Penn is loaded with individual talent this year and Camy Kiser and Olivia Walter could also be individual title contenders. YAIAA Champion Lydia Tolerico and BCIAA Champion Caryn Rippey seem to be peaking at the right time. Both have been coming on strong over the past couple of weeks. Rippey was the District 3 and PIAA state runner-up last year. Katie Dallas should also be in position for a top 3 finish. Rippey, Paci, and Tolerico are returning state medalists.

LL League Champion Isabella Shertzer (so, JP McCaskey), runner-up Elena Barrall, and 3rd place finisher Ava Shirk will all be competing for top 10 finishes, along with: Brooke Preputnick, Hope McKenney, Victoria Rodriguez, and Nicole Dauberman (jr, Susquehannock).

Here is a look at our top ten ranked individuals, sorted in alphabetical order (you make the call!):

Here is a look at our next twenty ranked individuals, sorted in alphabetical order: