The District 11 Cross Country Championships return to Bethlehem this afternoon, although at a different site.
Today's District races will be held at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course, Illicks Mill Road, instead of the traditional D-11 layout at Lehigh University.
The Bethlehem Muni course is reportedly flatter and faster than the one at Lehigh, but the goal is the same for the runners: qualify for the PIAA State Meet at Hershey on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The top two teams in each class, as well as the top 10 non-team individuals, will make the cut for the State Meet.
Competition kicks off at 3 p.m. with the Boys Class AA race, followed by Boys AAA at 3:30 p.m., Girls AA at 4 p.m. and Girls AAA at 4:40 p.m.
Northwestern senior Lindsay Kerr is the defending District 11 Girls AA champion and is seeking a return to States, where she finished fourth a year ago. Kerr enters Districts after defending her crown in last week's Colonial League Meet at DeSales University.
The Lady Tigers placed second to Colonial rival Saucon Valley at Districts last year but qualified for States as a team with their runner-up finish. Northwestern swept through the Colonial League unbeaten and returns five runners from last year's District squad: Kerr, Katie Hallingstad, Natalie Boehm, Ramsy Burns and Courtney Desiderio. Megan Handwerk and Anna Fricchione round out the Tigers' top seven.
Tamaqua sophomore Amber Carroll placed second to Kerr at Districts last year and was 18th at States. At last week's Schuylkill All-League Meet at Blue Mountain, however, Carroll collapsed with about 800 meters to go and never finished the race.
Tamaqua Coach Tom Kanger said Carroll was back in school on Monday and has been cleared to run today.
Northern Lehigh's Stephanie Pryor placed fifth in Girls AA last year to earn a State berth.
In Class AAA, Pleasant Valley junior Samantha Klingel, a two-time Mountain Valley Conference champion, placed 17th and made the State cut.
In Boys AA, Colonial League champion Notre Dame of Green Pond is the defending D-11 titlist and the favorite for the team crown. The race for the second PIAA team berth will be one to watch.
Northern Lehigh placed second behind the Crusaders at the Colonial League Meet and is led by Austin Danish, Ryan Fronheiser and Zach Fleming.
Jim Thorpe, which lost only to AAA Blue Mountain in Schuylkill League dual meet action, could also be a contender.
Palmerton's Aaron Papay is the top returning finisher among TIMES NEWS area runners in the AA field, placing 16th last year, while Jim Thorpe's Sam Lux placed 18th, with both just missing the State cut.