The road to Hebron can be a long and winding one, but Ohio cross country runners now have their sights set on National Trail Raceway on the first Saturday in November.
The season got under way in earnest with Saturday's inaugural Shadyside Invitational, but there are plenty of events upcoming to whet the appetites of running aficionados.
The Martins Ferry Invitational is set for next Saturday. The Buckeye 8 Championships are set for September 7, while the Belmont County Championships are Wednesday, September 11 at Union Local.
T-L?File Photo/SETH STASKEY
ST. JOHN’S junior Fallon Doyle is the top returning individual in area cross country. Doyle is a two-time all-Ohioan in Division III for the Lady Irish.
Meadowbrook will once again play host to the Cal Pokas OVAC Championships Saturday, Oct. 5. The OVCCL Championships are the following Saturday at Buckeye Local.
Postseason action begins in Cambridge on October 19 with the district meet. The regional meet is slated for the following Saturday in Pickerington.
Here's a capsule look at area teams:
Barnesville's boys and girls each return one all-OVAC performer as Head Coach Mark Brown returns for his 30th season guiding the Shamrocks.
''I'm very excited about the group of young kids we have in both high school and junior high,'' Brown said.
Junior Mason Moore is the top returnee on the boys' side.
''He's been working very hard,'' Brown said. ''I'm hoping for a big year from him.''
Brandon Davidson, Tim Skinner and Michael Thomas are the other juniors. Freshmen Devin Clouse, Allen Coen, Hunter George and Kane Stephens complete the lineup.
Sophomore Karleigh Clouse is the top returnee on the girls' side.
The remainder of the roster is comprised of senior Carolyn Blattler, sophomores Samantha Burkhart, Kayla Erickson and Mariah Riley and freshman Abby Wharton.
Chris Arno returns for his 18th season heading the programs at his alma mater and he has high hopes for both his boys' and girls' squads.
There were no graduation losses on the girls' side.
''We are excited this year for a lot of reasons,'' he said. ''It's the first time we will be able to field a complete team since 2010 when we had eight girls out.''
Leading the way, according to Arno, will be freshman Taylor Stoner.
Stoner missed track season last spring due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident, but Arno said she's recovered nicely and looks for her to improve as the season moves along.
She captured the Shadyside Invitational crown on Saturday and ran well in the OHSAA?meet a week ago.
Junior Danielle Stoner, Taylor's sister, and freshman Shaye Beckett figure to fill in the next two spots. Danielle Stoner missed qualifying for the regional meet last fall by one spot one season after advancing there.
''Danielle has worked hard the past two seasons without anyone to really train with in practice,'' Arno said. ''Now she has a group to practice with on a daily basis and that should help her improve.''
Junior Dallas Messenger and freshman Rylie Purtiman round out the Big Reds top 5 runners.
Junior Lesley Bendekovich and freshman Sarah McAnich round out the roster.
Bellaire's boys' team is headed by a trio of juniors - Luc Messenger, a two-year letterwinner, Wally Holmes and Jeff Simpson.
''They've put in a lot more mileage this summer than last,'' Arno said. ''Hopefully, we'll see the results from being more dedicated in upcoming races.
''Those three guys will hopefully lead the way for our younger runners in our program.''
Sophomore Josh Bumgardner and freshman Nate Wilhelm will also be asked to contribute.
Arno is assisted by Ann Arno.
The coaching tandem of Diane and Wayne McCracken return for their fourth season guiding the Panthers and both are excited about the runners they have in the fold.
On the boys' side, three seniors return in Ryan Lewton, Zach Malesky and Jarrett Roach. Also back are juniors Devin Pasco and Derrick Starr.
Freshman Jesse Pelkey is the lone newcomer on the boys' squad.
Junior Becky Lewton is the veteran of the girls' unit. She will be joined by sophomores Katelyn and Kylee Torok and freshman Kirsten Sproull.
There's a youth movement taking place in the land of the Huskies, but new Head Coach Luke Turner is encouraged about the potential of both his boys' and girls' runners.
''Our team is overall pretty young, but maturing quickly,'' he said. ''Our runners are training hard and becoming more competitive every day.
''We lost a few runners from last year, but we also gained a few to help fill their shoes. I look forward to a good season with our athletes.''
Lost to graduation were Sebastion Cruz, Matt McMahon, Robert Tipton, Katie Barron, Jessica Custer and Mindi Snyder.
The boys' roster consists of senior Blake Yoho, juniors Dillon Bossell, Kyle Custer, Wayne Dagen, Addison Reed and Zac Whiteman, sophomores Rod Cowans, Tristan Ferrell and Wesley Mitchell, and freshman Angus Whiteman.
There are only three girls running, all sophomores - Megan Barcroft, Mikenzi Edwards and Shianne Nameth.
Expectations are high at Indian Creek this fall as the boys' team returns all but one member (Frankie Kamerec) from a squad that won the Buckeye 8 and finished fourth at districts.
''Our goals are to make it to the state meet as a team and defend our (Buckeye 8) championship title, as well as all our meet winning titles of last year,'' Redskins Head Coach Jack Fluharty said. ''As one of the smallest schools in OVAC 5A, we have to run very well at OVACs to place against those large West Virginia teams, but I think this year we may surprise people.''
The boys' roster is comprised of seniors Tanner Wise, Max Lewis and Eli Vaughan, juniors Tyler Gaydosh and Ethan Morrow, sophomores Allen Keister, Kyle Weaver, Devin Kriszek and Adrian Greco, and freshmen Wyatt Stout and George Shea.
Fluharty sees Keister, Weaver and Gaydosh as the top 3.
The girls' roster is smaller with juniors Addie Winland and Abby Greco, sophomore Fanci Ward, and freshmen Karli Celestin and Peyton Vaughan.
''Our girls' team is very small, but the top 4 should place well in every meet,'' Fluharty said.
''I look for the girls to bring home a lot of medals this year.''
Fluharty is assisted by Matt Morrow.
Coach Chrissy Lewis has high hopes for her Martins Ferry boys' and girls' squads this fall.
''This year, we'll have a full boys' and girls' team'' she said.
Sunshine Wrenn and Christina Lattimer were lost to graduation on the girls' side, but the Purple Riders return junior Jamie Truchan.
Truchan, a two-year letterwinner, qualified for state last season.
''She is expected to be our team leader,'' Lewis said.
Truchan will be followed by Lindsay Cunningham (three-year letterwinner and 2012 regional qualifier) and freshmen Alyssa Kalinski and Madison Lyle.
''All three will be battling for the 2-4 positions,'' Lewis said.
Competing for the fifth spot will be senior Madison Reis, junior Anissa Lattimer and sophomore Tara Fogle.
Lewis said she is ''thrilled'' is to have three freshmen who may lead the way for the Ferry boys.
''Jacob Bishop looks to be our top guy based on races this summer,'' she said. ''He will be followed closely by Jeffery Lucas and Terrell Tuttle.
Theodore Zoumpolidis, a junior two-year letterwinner, is is the Purple Riders only returnee and could finish anywhere in the top 4.
Freshmen Jackson Lybarger and Taylor Fogle will likely battle for the fifth spot.
Battling for the other spots are junior Chris Tucker, sophomore Cody Stalder and freshmen Thomas Singhaus, Bobby Shreve and Bryce Cunningham.
Lewis will be assisted by Joe Ellis. He will also coach the junior high team.
Even though she has small groups again this season, River Head Coach Jenny Van Camp said she has a determined group of harriers.
''I'm super excited to have as many freshmen as I do and am looking for great things from them,'' she said. ''I have really strong seniors this season that will definitely lead the boys' and girls' teams.''
Seniors are Kole Smith, Landyn Ramsay, Becka Stewart, Gabby Goudy and Makenna Collins.
Katie Thomas is the junior, while Hunter Richmond and Daniel Fisher represent the sophomores.
Alexandria Karpacs-Brown, Kara Dotterer, Chase Brown, Noah Ramsay and Michael Collins are freshmen.
Graduation claimed Laken Ramsay and Myla Smith.
Shadyside has a bright future ahead as all but one runner in its program is either a sophomore or freshman.
The lone senior is is Hayley Miller.
Freshman Josh Kahl leads the boys' squad for Head Coach Stu Rynkievich. The remainder of the team consists of sophomores Justin Bowers, Mark Fahey, Shane Johnson, Brett Kahl, Julian Runyan and Chad Snyder.
Josh had a solid season last year and has proven to be our top guy,'' Rynkievich said. ''Mark has shown much improvement and maturity for our second spot.''
Snyder, Runyan and Brett Kahl will round out the top 5.
''This will be a strong learning season for them and I look for them to open some competitor's eyes in the valley very soon,'' Rynkievich said.
Sophomores Logen Johnson and McKayla Kinemond back up Miller on the girls' squad, with freshmen Alexa Coggins, Lauren Hoffman, Lyndsey Howell, Madison Miller and Ashley Visnic rounding out the roster.
''After the losses of Tara Tollett, Alex Carney and Jayde Glasser the girls' team had some holes to fill,'' Rynkievich said.
''McKayla will lead the squad. She has proven to be a leader and her work ethic is fantastic.
Coggins, Madison Miller, Visnic and Johnson are expected to complete the top 5, but Rynkievich wouldn't be surprised to see the others step up.
''These girls will have a bright future together during the next couple seasons.''
Rynkievich is assisted by Scott Kinemond, Jim Miller and Brooke Meintel.
The Red Devils have been a heavyweight year in and year out as of late, and Head Coach Tony Ciroli hopes 2013 will be another solid season.
''Every season provides new challenges,'' said Ciroli, entering his 16th season as coach. ''I have lost some good athletes and team leaders due to graduation.''
The girls' squad took a big hit with the loss of Amy Castle and Juliana Madzia. Castle, headed to UNC-Ashville, participated in three state meets. Madzia was an all-Ohioan last fall.
Also picking up diplomas were Shae Cenkus, Phillip Burdyn, Joey Davies, Brady Frakowski and Drake Walker.
Both the boys' and girls' teams are coming off OVAC Class 4A crowns and district runner-up finishes.
''I have some new runners and it is still a little early to say exactly who my top 5 will be on either team,'' Ciroli said. ''I do have some veterans who will be in the mix, but it will come down to who wants to earn it the most and do what is needed to fill the shoes of those we lost.''
The veteran of the boys' squad is three-year letterman and senior Alex Timko.
Other seniors are Chris Baker, Alexander Trouten and newcomer Robbie Fisher. James Davenport and Chandler Kilburn are the juniors. Sophomore Logan McCort and freshman Kevin Sampson round out the team.
The girls' team will be a youthful group as there is only one senior and junior on the roster.
Senior Marissa Rizzo is a two-year letterwinner, while junior Joanna Vincenzo has just as many letters.
Five sophomores return in Paige Garan, Sam Harrison, Hanna Vera, Mikayla Westlake and Liz Kirkpatrick. Lauren Morgan is new to the team.
Freshmen are Sarah Heidelbach, Lexie Robinson and Page Gellner.
Former standout Zach Foster assumes the reins of the Irish as former head coach Jeremy Midei steps back into an assistant's role.
And while there's been a coaching change, St. John figures to be strong again, specially on the girls' side where junior Fallon Doyle returns.
''This year's girls' team has the potential to be the best girls' team we've had at St. John in a number of years,'' Foster said. ''Fallon has had a fantastic year of training and is hungry to achieve her personal goals.''
Fallon, a two-time all-Ohioan, is the school's career record-holder and the team's clear top runner.
Senior Kaitlyn Santinoceto has established herself as the No. 2 runner, while sophomore Kylie Stauffer looks like the No. 3, according to Foster.
''The No. 4 through 10th spots could change weekly,'' Foster said. ''This team works extremely hard.''
First-year runner Abbey Schlanz and Trine Steinbakk-Olsen are the other seniors. Joining them are first-year junior Kyleigh Falcone, sophomores Natalie Cervelli, Maria Ducci and Brooke Moore, and freshman Rachel Russell.
The boys' team was hit hard by graduation, with two-time state qualifier Corey Leasure and three-year varsity runner Brennan Donahue picking up diplomas.
''I believe they could do surprisingly well, though,'' Foster said. ''The boys top 5 is still up in the air. The four upperclassmen have established themselves as the top 4.''
That group consists of seniors Aaron Ebbert, David Goclan and Garrett Holubeck and junior Sean Clemons.
The rest of the lineup includes sophomores Mark Donahue and Austin Morris, along with freshman Bryce Ramsay.
Foster is also assisted by Ian Gulley.
Joey Meholovitch takes the reins of the Union Local program and hopes to take what he's learned as the junior high coach and put it to good use at the varsity level.
''We have a good group of young student-athletes who have worked hard we no complaints,'' he said. ''We lost a couple of key runners from last year (Casey Glenn and Danica Wharton). Nevertheless, our overall numbers are up and our spirits are high.''
Senior Caleb Hayes will anchor the boys' squad, according to Meholovitch. Also playing vital roles will be Justin Bolt, Joseph Glenn and Robbie Milhoan.
Meholovitch said senior Anna Frazier and Aubrey Snider are ''the two to look out for.'' He added freshman Megan Bateman ''has a lot of promise, as well.''
''Even though we have a very young team we hope to succeed with individual goals as well as place at the team level,'' Meholovitch said.
Wheeling Park's boys, under the guidance of Head Coach Jacob Galik, return seven letterwinners, including returning all-stater senior Albert Schrimp.
Others contending for varsity spots are: seniors Jake Davis, Dalton Haas, Isaac Estep and Jamie Tarr, juniors Robert McIntosh and Cameron Eberhard, sophomores Thomas Nagy, Joseph Stahl and Sean Wagner, and freshman Jarred Beihl.
No information was submitted for the Park girls.