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Cross Country: Five Things to Watch

Written by Sports Town on .

Here are five things to keep an eye on during the 2013 cross country season.

*Can the Quaker Valley boys continue their dominance by winning their seventh WPIAL championship in a row? Last season, the Quakers topped runner-up Mars and the rest of the field to capture the Class AA title. The other boys champions were North Allegheny (AAA) and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (A).

*Coming off a dominant 2012 season, the Mt. Lebanon girls will try to defend their WPIAL Class AAA title. In last year's championship, the Blue Devils took four of the top 10 places, finishing with a stunningly-low score of 49 points. Also attempting to defend WPIAL titles are Quaker Valley (AA) and Laurel (A).

*In just two years, Shaler junior Brianna Schwartz has established herself as one of the top runners in state. Schwartz was fantastic in cross country and track last season. She was the WPIAL Class AAA individual cross country champion and finished third at the PIAA championships. In track, Schwartz set a WPIAL championship meet record in the 800-meter run and was also the 1,600 champion. She won the 1,600 at the PIAA championships.

*Kiski Area senior Brent Kennedy is the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion. Kennedy is one of the most heavily recruited runners in the WPIAL. At last year's WPIAL championship, Kennedy ran a 15:59. A week later at the PIAA championship in Hershey, Kennedy ran a 15:52 to finish second.

*At least four new WPIAL champions will be crowned. Schwartz and Kennedy are the only returning champions. Last season's other winners were South Park's Tyler Rigby (Class AA boys), Vincentian's Ryan Archer (Class A boys), Uniontown's Julie Friend (Class AA girls) and Laurel's Emily Maxwell (Class A girls).