The countless miles covered by the area’s cross country runners over the past several months all lead to today.
The PIAA championship meet takes place at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey. Things kick off with the Class A girls race (9:30 a.m.), followed by the Class AA girls (10:15); Class AAA girls (11); Class A boys (11:45); Class AA boys (12:30 p.m.) and the Class AAA boys (1:15). An awards presentation will wrap the day up at 2 p.m.
The event will give several local runners, and a couple teams, a repeat opportunity to improve upon past performances at the meet. A few other runners will be getting their first taste of the state race.
Class AA Boys
Meadville is bringing two runners to the state championships in senior Patrick Stevens and sophomore Matt Pulieo.
This will be the third trip for Stevens. He went as a freshman, finishing in 50th place. He missed out as a sophomore due to injury. But he was back last season as a junior, rocketing up to 15th place (17:11).
It will be the first state race for Pulieo. His freshman season was hampered by injury. But, if his sixth-place finish at districts last week is any indication, he appears to be healthy now.
Class AA Girls
Conneaut Area junior Meaera Shannon is back at states for the third straight year.
Over the course of her first two years at states she managed to make big strides up the finishing list.
As a freshman in 2017 she finished 44th. Last year she shot up to 10th place, finishing in 19:53.
Class A Boys
Among the returning units will be the Cochranton boys cross country team. The Cardinals will be entering the meet as the District 10 champion for the third year in a row.
The program was seventh at the state meet in 2017, and managed to move up a spot to sixth place last season.
The Cardinals will be tackling their third appearance at states with a relatively new group of runners, having graduated three of their top five last season in Jac Cokley, Stephen Clulow and Lee Ault.
However, as this season’s District 10 and Region 3 titles can attest, the Cardinals’ new top five have filled in nicely.
Three Cochranton runners, all seniors, will be returning to the state meet this year. Noah Bernarding, this year’s district runner-up, was 59th at the state meet last year (18:34). Franklin Morris was 78th at states as a junior (18:42). And Alex Jackson finished 127th (19:19).
Cochranton will be joined by, not just one, but two other Class 1A teams from District 10.
Typically, only the D-10 champion and runner-up advance. But, this year an exception was made after a timing error at districts.
The results on the day of the district race had Cambridge Springs in second place by one point over West Middlesex. But a couple days later, footage of the race revealed that one of Cambridge’s runners was actually one place back of where he was initially scored. That meant that Cambridge Springs and West Middlesex were actually tied for second. And West Middlesex, by virtue of tiebreaker rules, would have been awarded runner-up status.
However, instead of making Cambridge Springs stay home, the District 10 and PIAA administrators arranged things so that both West Middlesex and Cambridge Springs could compete.
That is certainly welcome news for the Blue Devils, who will have three runners returning to the state meet this year.
Sophomore Hunter Spaid was 53rd (18:12) at states as a freshman last season. Christian Kline, a senior this year, was 83rd in Hershey (18:38) a year ago. And junior Bobby Moats returns, looking to improve on his 105th-place finish from 2018 (18:59).
Furthermore in 1A, two area freshmen will be making their first trip to the state meet. Saegertown’s Sam Hetrick qualified by finishing third in the D-10 meet last week. And Lakeview’s Colson Jenkins advanced with a seventh-place run.
Class A Girls
The seniors on the Lakeview girls team have now qualified for the state championship meet every year of their high school career.
The Lady Sailors made it four straight with a runner-up finish at districts last week.
Among Lakeview’s team finishes at states are a ninth-place showing in 2016, a 12th-place finish in 2017 and an eighth-place appearance last season.
At least four of Lakeview’s current runners ran in last year’s state meet. Among them is senior Claire Oliver, who was 69th last year (22:12); sophomore Aubrey Hogue, who was 108th (22:53); sophomore Abby Mellon, who was 150th (23:43); and senior Lauren Turik, who was 188th (25:24).
The 1A girls race will also feature a pair of sophomore runners that are back in Hershey for the second straight year.
Cambridge Springs’ Elizabeth Kline was 25th at states in 2018 (21:09) and Saegertown’s Paige Fuller returns after finishing 67th a year ago (22:11).