Penncrest seniors Chris and Matt Kazanjian are twins in so many ways.
Obviously, they look alike, but their running styles are similar, too. They each know exactly how the other runs and, while many runners can analyze a race after it's over, you get the impression the Kazanjians can measure their progress during a race based on what their twin is up to.
Take last week's Central League championship meet at Rose Tree Park. They finished 1-2 with Chris beating Matt to the finish line by a second. Chris often finishes ahead of Matt, but not by much and not always.
But when Matt pulled ahead of Chris late in the race, it was a signal to Chris to pick it up.
"He was waiting for the Conestoga kid (Andrew Marston Jr.) to pull ahead of him,' Matt Kazanjian said. "But (Marston) was going too slow. So I ran up and actually passed (Chris) because I knew he didn't want to finish behind me.'
Chris got the message, finishing first on the Rose Tree Park course at 15:56.5 with Matt not far behind at 15:57.1 Chris finished second (16:02) to Cardinal O'Hara's Kevin James and Matt finished fifth (16:27) a week earlier at the Delco Championships.
They were starting to prepare early this week for Friday's District One championship meet at Lehigh University. Chris Kazanjian can't wait to return to a course at which he bettered his previous-best time by 30 seconds while finishing ninth at 15:44 a year ago.
"I was the slowest first-mile split of the top 10,' Chris Kazanjian said. "I was basically five (minutes) flat for the first mile. You can really get some momentum on that Lehigh course. The last mile, it's all downhill.'
The general Kazanian strategy is to lay back early and come on strong. Matt Kazanjian didn't do quite as well as Chris at the district meet, finishing 32nd in 16:12, but it got him to the PIAA Championships and he too, likes the Lehigh course.
"You can really get into a rhythm at the Lehigh course,' Matt Kazanjian said. "Once you get going, there's no stopping you on that last mile.'
They push each other in training and in races.
"I didn't have my best race at districts last year,' Matt said. "But usually, (Chris') best races are my best races.'
While Chris and Matt are both hoping to travel together again to the PIAA Championships, they're also hoping to be joined by their teammates if Penncrest can qualify as a team. They know two-time reigning PIAA champion West Chester Henderson and Central League champion Conestoga will probably contend for the team title, but there should be three or four other team berths available in Class AAA.
The Kazanjians have been running since their older brother Paul, a former Cardinal O'Hara standout, started coaching them in fourth grade at St. Mary Magdalen. They run distances during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, but it is cross country they like the most.
"You get 3.1 miles to do what you can do,' Chris Kazanjian said as Matt nodded in agreement. "If you get behind early, there's still time to get back in the race.'
Chris Kazanjian owns Penncrest's all-time record with the 15:39 he ran at Haverford High's course at Coopertown Elementay School this season. Matt Kazanjian's personal-best of 15:42 that he ran at the Abington Invitational early season is fourth on the Penncrest list.
Haverford's Dave Fowler, who was fourth at both the Delco and Central League meets, and the Radnor pair of Connor Holm and Watson Hanson will also be hoping to reach the PIAA meet. Holm and Hason finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at the Central meet. Hanson was sixth and Holm seventh, respectively, at the Delco meet.
On the girls side, Strath Haven, which edged Cardinal O'Hara on a tiebreaker for the team championship at Delcos and dominated the Central League this fall, will be hoping to advance as a team in Class AAA to the PIAA Meet at Hershey.
The Panthers are led by Delco meet champion Abby Kennedy, but have the kind of depth needed to finish in the top five. Sophomore Maia Mesyinger finished ahead of Kennedy at the Central meet, taking second to Kennedy's third. Claire Wolters finished seventh for Strath Haven at Centrals.
Among some individuals to watch for are Springfield's Grace Galligan, who won the Central race in 19:31, Haverford's Courtney Nasser, who placed fourth at Centrals, and Penncrest's Laura Krasovek, who finished sixth at Centrals.
The Cardinal O'Hara boys and girls, fresh off their Catholic League championship performances Saturday, will be the favorites to win team honors in the District 12 Championships Thursday right back at the same Belmont Plateau course that the Catholic meet was contested on.
The O'Hara boys, who tied a county record with their fifth straight Delco meet team title, have won the last three District 12 team titles.
The O'Hara girls, who edged Archbishop Wood on a tiebreaker for the Catholic League crown, are the defending champions in District 12.
O'Hara girls coach John McShay said the Lions got a big boost Sunday with the return to form of freshman Sara Hayes, who finished ninth. Hayes also plays field hockey and took a ball off her leg. Originally diagnosed as a broken leg, it turned out to be a bad contusion.
"She was in a boot for two weeks and lost three weeks of training,' McShay said. "We weren't sure if we were going to get her back.'
The Archbishop Carroll girls tennis team surprised even itself during a season that ended with a loss to District One power Unionville in the PIAA Class AAA team tournament Tuesday.
Patti Doyle began the season as an assistant to Marjie Elliott, but Elliott got a student-teaching position that kept her away from the tennis court, so Doyle took over. The Patriots also thought their No. 1 singles position would be held down by talented sophomore Toni Ann Slaney, but Slaney decided not to play high school tennis this fall and concentrate on Middle States junior events.
Slaney watched the Patriots fall to Unionville Tuesday at Legacy and indicated she may play high school tennis again next fall.
"We had a lot going on early with Toni Ann deciding not to play and me taking over for Marjie,' Doyle said Tuesday night. "But these girls were so solid. Our second and third singles, Rachael (Tygh) and Stef (Barkofski) were undefeated through the Catholic League and the District 12 match until the finally lost against Unionville.'
The Patriots were unbeaten during the regular season in the Catholic League before falling, 3-2, to Lansdale Catholic in the title match, reversing a 3-2 Carroll win during the regular season. Carroll, however, got to represent the Catholic League in the District 12 Class AAA title match a couple of days later and defeated Central, 4-1.
It was a senior-laden team and it showed. The upperclassmen include No. 1 singles player Mary Saint-Antoine, Tygh and Barkofski and doubles players Grace Mondics and Anna Montastero. Mondics' partner, Jackie Finnegan, is a junior and Montastero's partner, Yvonne Lewis, is a sophomore.
"This team certainly set an example of what you're capable of if you set your mind to it,' Doyle said.
The support group for Radnor sophomore Brynn Walker during the final round of the PIAA Tournament at Heritage Hills Golf Resort Tuesday included Amy Kennedy, who was the team captain for Pennsylvania's entry in the USGA State Team Championships held at the NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, last month. The team, which finished 27th, included Kennedy, Walker and Coatesville's Kelli Pry.
When Kennedy, long one of the top amateur players in the York area, found out her Pennsylvania teammate was going to be teeing it up in her neighborhood, she came out to cheer Walker on. And she was able to offer some advice and solace when Walker's day didn't go quite as well as she had hoped.
With two years of high school golf behind her, Walker has a fifth-place individual state medal, a seventh-place finish at states, a gold medal as a member of Radnor's 2012 PIAA Class AAA team champion, a state Junior Girls crown and that trip to the USGA State Team Championships. Not a bad little resume for a 15-year-old sophomore.