Sixteen years have passed since a Lancaster-Lebanon League runner last won a state cross country title. Twenty-four years have passed since an L-L program last won a state cross country team championship.
Both marks are worth pointing out heading into Saturday’s PIAA championships, as L-L runners have a good chance at capturing gold.
The state championship races will be held on the Parkview course near the Giant Center in Hershey, beginning with the Class 1A girls race at 9:30 a.m. and finishing with the Class 3A boys race at 1:15 p.m.
A year ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each classification was separated into heats, with the top finishing times deciding the overall placements.
This year’s races will return to the traditional format of runners in each classification competing in one race.
Here’s a look at the combined total of 52 L-L runners set to compete Saturday.
1A girls, 9:30 a.m.: Annville-Cleona senior Braetan Peters and her teammates will kick things off for the L-L on Saturday morning. A two-sport student-athlete who was recently named an L-L field hockey all-star, Peters is also the reigning back-to-back District 3-1A girls cross country champion. She placed 21st in the state meet a year ago. In program history, A-C has one state champion, but it came on the boys side (Bob Stachow, 1974).
Peters is part of an A-C team that just won its first District 3-1A team championship. While the Dutchmen have four team state crowns in their trophy case, all came on the boys side nearly a half-century ago (1972, 1973, 1974, 1977).
Also competing in the state 1A girls race will be Veritas Academy sophomore Ruth Reeser and freshman Katie Coughlan.
2A girls, 10:15 a.m.: Five L-L runners will compete in the girls 2A race (District Three finishes, times in parentheses): Lancaster Mennonite sophomore Claire Thomas (8th, 20:28), Elco junior Isabel Zwally (16th, 21:16), Lampeter-Strasburg junior Aubrey Magagna (17th, 21:19) and Octorara sophomore Jessica Ferrera (20th, 21:25).
3A girls, 11 a.m.: 10 L-L runners will compete in the girls 3A race (District 3-3A finishes, times listed in parentheses): Manheim Township teammates Elena Barrall (14th, 19:24) and Ava Shirk (18th, 19:30), Hempfield sophomores Ella Wolfe (15th, 19:24) and Molly Siebert (40th, 20:34), Warwick teammates Ella Hartel (19th, 19:34) and Warwick senior Alexa Wenger (34th, 20:27), McCaskey teammates Isabella Shertzer (20th, 19:42) and Milana Breuninger (23rd, 20:03), Donegal freshman Kathryn Fernald (27th, 20:16) and Ephrata junior Madison Kimmel (33rd, 20:26).
1A boys, 11: 45 a.m.: Columbia freshman Matthew McNair placed 16th at last week’s District 3-1A boys race. He’ll be the lone L-L runner in the state 1A boys meet.
2A boys, 12:30 p.m.: The Lampeter-Strasburg boys captured the program’s first District Three team championship last Saturday. It’ll now aim to make history again since L-S has never before won a team state title. All seven L-S runners will compete Saturday in the boys 2A race, led by District 3-2A runner-up Colin Whitaker. Also running will be Annville-Cleona teammates Jahmar Gonzalez-Allie (14th, 17:08) and Landon Hostetter (19th, 17:22), Lancaster Catholic senior Mason Moore (20th, 17:27) and Elco sophomore Camden Marquette (25th, 17:42).
3A boys, 1:15 p.m.: Hempfield junior Aidan Hodge became the first Black Knights’ boys runner since 1979 to win an individual district championship after he won the District 3-3A crown last Saturday at Big Spring. Additionally, the Knights captured the District 3-3A team championship by a point over runner-up Manheim Township. Both teams will send their runners to the state tournament.
Four other L-L runners will compete in the boys 3A meet (District Three championship race finishes, times in parentheses): Lebanon senior Caleb Hershey (11th, 16:33), Cedar Crest teammates Ryan Wolfe (14th, 16:38) and Luke Hinegardner (20th, 16:44) and Warwick junior Jake Forgione (27th, 16:57).
Hempfield and Manheim Township are still in search of the program’s first state individual and team title.
History: Here’s a listing of all previous state champion runners and teams out of the L-L League in the history of the event, which dates back to 1939.
2005, Manheim Township, Craig Miller, 3A boys
2004, Manheim Township, Craig Miller, 3A boys
2003, Manheim Township, Craig Miller, 3A boys
1994, Northern Lebanon, Stacy Stoner, 2A girls
1990, Cedar Crest, Nick MacFalls, 3A boys
1986, Cedar Crest, Wendy Nelson, 3A girls
1976, Solanco, Cliff Wimer, 2A boys
1975, Solanco, Cliff Wimer, 2A boys
1974, Annville-Cleona, Bob Stachow, 2A boys
1997, Solanco, 3A girls
1990, Solanco 3A girls
1977, Annville-Cleona, 2A boys
1974, Annville-Cleona, 2A boys
1973, Annville-Cleona, 2A boys
1972, Annville-Cleona, 2A boys (tie-first)