NEWVILLE — The breaker of course records, Noah Affolder, took a day off.
Sure, the senior transfer from New York still raced, and still clocked in five seconds ahead of the field — once again, little brother Sam finished second — but his tempo during Saturday’s Mid-Penn Boys Cross Country Championships was more akin to a jog for the overwhelming PIAA favorite.
“Just another workout,” Noah Affolder said.
Even if the Affolders, and by extension, a notable chunk of the field, took the first race of the postseason easy, Carlisle’s dominance in a first-place, 71-point finish was on full display at Big Spring High School.
— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) October 15, 2016
Behind the Affolders, the Thundering Herd placed five runners on the podium — (Isaac Kole finished 4th, Jack Wisner 31th and Bryce Dunkelberger 35th) to cruise to a Mid-Penn title by 18 points over Lower Dauphin. Cumberland Valley (100 points) finished in third.
“I was really hoping we’d go 1-2-3, I thought that’d be really cool,” Kole said.
If there was any doubt up to this point, Carlisle put it to bed. The Herd are the overwhelming favorite to win the District 3 Class 3A championship in two weeks and a top, if not the top, contender for a state title Nov. 5 in Hershey.
“Two weeks from now we should hopefully look for the same kind of results,” said Affolder, who ran a 15:48.2. “We just gotta remain confident. I think there’s a level of confidence and cockiness that you need, and if we can just find that right balance I think we’ll run well.”
However, if there’s one Achilles heel for the Herd, it’s depth. While six finished in the top 40 on the day, the Eagles showed better back-end potential than the Herd, at least for one day.
“I think CV did really well today — they put five in front of their four, that was kinda scary,” Kole said. “We really gotta pick it up out of our four and five spot if we wanna go anywhere.”
“The top three, we fly on the course,” Affolder said. “We had some minor setbacks here and there with our four and five guy, and we just need them healthy, strong, confident and hungry for a win.”
But there’s two weeks before districts to hammer out those issues.
Wildcats eyeing bigger prize
Mechanicsburg hoped for a top three team finish on a sunny afternoon, but instead settled for fifth with 125 points, just five points behind State College.
Still, like Carlisle and other teams on the track, the Wildcats weren’t concerned so much about results this week. They’re focused on districts.
“We should be looking towards racing as a team,” senior Andrew Sulon said.
Sulon, who finished 14th with a 16:36.8, is one of the depth guys behind Morgan Cupp (6th, 16:07.3) and Alex Tomasko (5th, 16:05.8). The trio is gunning for a team berth in states and will get that shot in two weeks when districts are held at Big Spring High School.
“I was just looking to see how I fared against the rest of the District 3 competition,” Tomasko said.
“There wasn’t a particular goal we had, just to come and get a good workout,” Cupp said. “We did do that.”
Tomasko and the Wildcats were likely pleased with the assessment. The top four runners finished in the top 20 of the field (Brandan Knepper took 18th in 16:48.8). Now it’s about staying in shape and trying to run the way they’ve run all season, which has included several personal records throughout the roster, Cupp said.
Soliman also assessing the field
Yahya Soliman (16:32.1) finished 12th to lead the Eagles to a somewhat surprising bronze. The Eagles, without No. 4 and No. 5 runners Caleb Schultz and Ronan Gleeson, placed five runners on the podium and four in the top 26.
The lineup behind Soliman showed potential for the rest of the postseason. He said the bottom half of the roster has done a good job this season getting much-needed depth points, and now it’s up to the top of the roster — including himself, Josh Higgins (13th, 16:36.1) and Nick DeMario (24th,18:58.9) to start getting farther up the chase pack behind the Affolder brothers.
“We’ve been struggling throughout the season as a team just because we’ve been letting the top three of other teams get in front and we just gotta break them up,” Soliman said.
Other notable finishers
Other medalists in the boys field included Red Land's Nate Romberger (17th, 16:42.9), Trinity's Matt Geisler (22nd, 16:55.7), and CV's Andrew Brown (26th, 17:00.8) and Devon Heisler (29th, 17:07.8).