Locals ready for state cross country
'The Sweetest Place on Earth' may have dodged Sandy's worst rains but it will be inundated with Pennsylvania's best runners today.
The PIAA cross-country state championships will be going off as planned in Hershey and there will be plenty of local representation.
Three teams and 12 individuals will be representing nine local schools and communities.
The team with the highest of hopes is Northeast Bradford boys who are looking to bring home a team and individual titles in the Class A race.
The Panthers are the favorites to bring home the team title, having beaten all the top small schools around the state at either the Foundation Race or the PTXC Invitational.
They are led by the duo of Curt Jewett and Sam Williams. Both are going for their third state medal and have a chance to claim the individual state title and they very well could go 1-2 in the state.
Freshman Levi Upham, Brandon Devonshire and Derek Allabaugh round out their top five.
Team wise they will see some tough competition from Saegertown, West Middlesex and Vencentian.
Other local individuals are Sullivan County's Kelby Mullen, running in his fourth state meet and going for his third career medal, Wellsboro's Jordan Jackson, another returning medalist, Canton's Emmett Watson and Wellsboro's Bobby Hill.
Top individuals from around the state are Elk Lake's Luke Jones, Northeast's Ryan Smathers and Rico Galassi of Holy Cross.
In the Class AA boy's race Towanda will be taking a team as well.
Aaron Valoroso leads the Knights having captured his first district title and looking for his second individual medal.
Teammate Simon Smith will also be looking to break into the medals while Kevin Blackman, Schuler Smith and Derrick Cole round out their top five.
Individually, Sayre's Nick Sweet has peaked at the right time of the season, taking fourth overall at districts. Also racing will be Troy's Ethan Calkins and Athens' Matt Millard, who will be running in his third career state meet.
Pottsgrove and Grove City look to be the two teams challenging for the state title.
Individually, look for last year's Class AA champion Brandon Shearn of North Schuykill and Grove City's Dan Jaskowak near the front.
On the girl's side there will be one local team and four individuals in the Class A race.
Wellsboro will use a pack mentality to try to break into the top 10.
They are led by standout freshmen Jada Jackson, Jordyn Coffee and Camryn Keane along with upper classmen Charlotte Worthington and Randi Grim.
Individually, Troy's Casey Norton and Wyalusing's Erika Huffman will take their rivalry down to the state meet. Norton is a returning state medalist while Huffman won the Foundation Race earlier this year.
Also look for Towanda's Destiny Foster and freshman Lydia Werner of Northeast Bradford. All four runners have a good shot at being in the medals.
In the team race it looks to be Elk Lake's to lose while individually Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner is the favorite to win the state title.
In the Class AA race there will be two locals, Sayre's Katie Hurley and Molly O'Hara.
District 2's Dallas and Holy Redeemer will be two of the teams in the race while Reagan Rome of Dallas is one of the favorites to win the state title.
The Class A girl's race kicks everything off a 9:30 a.m. with awards after the Class AAA boys' race early in the afternoon.
PIAA Cross-country Championships
Girls' Class A, 9:30 a.m.
Girls' Class AA, 10:15 a.m.
Girls' Class AAA, 11 a.m.
Boys' Class A, 11:45 a.m.
Boys' Class AA, 12:30 p.m.
Boys' Class AAA, 1:15 p.m.
Awards 2 p.m.
Parking: At the Hershey Giant Center
Weather: Sunny but brisk, 40 degrees at the start of the first race.