Five of the top six teams at the 2012 WPIAL Championships were schools from the North suburban area, Section 3 to be exact. North Allegheny was 2nd, North Hills 3rd, Hampton 4th, Pine-Richland 5th, and Seneca Valley 6th. To top it off, the individual champ was Brianna Schwartz of Shaler, who will be a junior this year. There will be no major changes for 2013. The north area is just as strong.
Graduation may have hurt Pine-Richland the most but the Rams almost always are found near the top of the WPIAL. North Allegheny has a slight edge over North Hills because of its incredible depth, but North Hills still has the experienced and talented senior Mary Malone to lead the way.
Hampton was last season’s big surprise. The Talbots won’t surprise anyone this year. They will be in position to catch either North Allegheny or North Hills if either falter. Seneca Valley has quietly finished 6th in 2011 and 2012. Seneca Valley may make a little noise in 2013. They will be the team to watch.
Defending WPIAL champion Quaker Valley had new neighbors in Class AA with the realignment of cross country teams in 2012. Most significant in the realignment were the addition of Knoch and Mars. Knoch finished 3rd in the WPIAL AA and then finished ahead of Quaker Valley at the state meet. Freeport was 6th followed by Mars in 7th.
Both Quaker Valley and Freeport look to have strong teams again but Knoch looks ready to make a strong challenge for the top spot and Mars looks to be in position to qualify for states. Section 3 may now make a strong impact in both the girls AAA and AA races. Look for Quaker Valley, a perennial power, to make it difficult for anyone to dethrone them.
Vincentian Academy led the way in 2012 with a 3rd place finish at WPIAL's and will have a chance to qualify for states again this year if they can hold off Canevin and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Shady Side Academy looks to move up from last years 8th place finish with the return of its top 5 from the WPIAL meet. Both Avonworth and Northgate have their top runners returning but need some added depth to make an impact this year.