Chambersburg girls thinking big for District 3 X-C
Girls from Franklin County have a good chance to take center stage Saturday when the District 3 cross country championships are held at Big Spring High School.
Greencastle-Antrim freshman Taryn Parks is one of the favorites to win the Class 2A title, and teammate Lauren Hirneisen might not be far behind.
In 3A, Chambersburg's Abby Yourkavitch and Kaylee Mowery are both expected to be in the leading pack and the Trojans - with a good day - should be vying for the team crown or at least a top-four finish and advancement to the PIAA Championships as a team.
Several other area runners are hoping for a showing good enough to qualify for states.
Chambersburg girls coach Chris Monheim said, "In my 13 or so years, this is the best our district has been in terms of quality. We have three teams (Manheim Township 3rd, Hershey 7th and Dallastown 8th) ranked in the top 10 in the state, and we're probably 11. Our goal is to be top four, but if we have a good day, we can roll with any team there."
The Trojans return three girls who placed in the top 20 at districts last year - Yourkavitch (3rd), Mowery (6th) and Cadie Kiser (20th). Livvy Sommers and Sydney Parson are No. 4 and 5 and will play a big role Saturday.
"We can compete with anybody's top three," Monheim said. "Livvy and Sydney were a little banged up earlier in the year, but they're doing their best running now. We're as healthy as we've been all season."
Chambersburg took fourth in the district and ninth in the state in 2015 and has reached the PIAA meet for five consecutive years.
Yourkavitch finished behind Cumberland Valley's Madi Clahane and Wilson's Alison Willingmyre last year. Clahane has graduated, but Willingmyre, who was two seconds ahead of Yourkavitch, is back.
"Willingmyre is very strong, and there's a girl from Cocalico (Jamie Zamrin) who is good, too," Monheim said. "But we could put Abby and Kaylee in the top five, and Cadie is way ahead of her times from last year."
In 2A, Parks has burst onto the cross country scene in a big way. She has already raced in two invitationals at Big Spring and won them both -- the Bulldog Invitational and the Mid Penn championships. The course will be set up as it was for the Bulldog event, where Parks beat Eastern York's Maddie McLain by more than 10 seconds.
McLain was third at districts last year and returner Rebecca Snyder of Oley Valley was second.
Greencastle coach Rich Secrest said, "Taryn wants to run in these championship races. She doesn't shrink from them. She sees the field and makes decisions and shows a lot of maturity. I think she can be a really big challenger at districts."
Hirneisen is coming off an 11th-place finish at Mid Penns and will be a good candidate to qualify for states.
In boys 3A, the top area finisher at the Mid Penn race was Chambersburg's Andrew Feldman, who placed 16th.
Trojan boys coach John Ambrosio said, "If he could duplicate what he did at Mid Penns, he could maybe qualify for states. I think he's set up for that."
In 3A, the top four teams and 20 top finishers not on those teams qualify for the PIAA event. Waynesboro's Chris Maichle, 32nd at Mid Penns, has an outside shot at moving on.
In Class 2A, James Buchanan's Dalton Leab - in his first season of cross country - was 30th at Mid Penns. He will have to place in the top 15 runners not on the teams that qualify for states.
JB coach Jerome Staniszewski said, "It's hard to say how he'll do because there are so many teams in the district we haven't seen. But if he doesn't qualify, it won't be because he hasn't put the work in. I think it helps he's seen the course twice already. We also have hopes Alex Giffin can make it - it's his third time at districts."
District 3 Cross Country
Place: Big Spring H.S. course
When: Saturday ... Girls - 1A at 11 a.m.; 2A at 12:30; 3A at 2:15 ... Boys - 1A at 11:45; 2A at 1:15, 3A at 3:00.
PIAA qualifiers: 1A - top 2 teams and 10 additional runners; 2A - top 3 teams and 15 runners; 3A - top 4 teams and 20 runners.
Medals: Top 10 runners in 1A; top 20 runners in 2A and 3A.