Prep CC: Area harriers set to begin 2019 seasons
The courses are mowed and lined.
Cross country is ready to begin.
Area harriers have been logging plenty of miles during the summer heat and will now get to test their training as meets begin.
The early meets are just a tuneup, however. The season really begins in October when a stretch of championship meets rolls weekly until the season culiminates once again at National Trail Raceway in Hebron with the Ohio State Cross Country Championship.
The OVAC Cal Pokas Championship is once again set for Cambridge on Oct. 5. The OVCCL will return to Buckeye Local to crown its champions the following week and then the postseason begins with teams competing at Cambridge for the district and Pickerington North for the regional.
Buckeye Local will once again host the Buckeye 8 and the inaugural Mid-Ohio Valley League championship is planned for River’s course.
Here’s a capsule look at area schools:
BARNESVILLE — Mark Brown has been around coaching long enough to know that some seasons are more challenging than others.
The veteran Shamrocks’ mentor has a talented cast of runners on his team this season, but they’re relatively unproven, which has Brown even wondering what to expect.
“I feel like this team will improve and hopefully place in the top half of most meets,” Brown said of his boys’ squad.
The Shamrocks’ boys are comprised basically of underclassmen. There’s only one runner of the nine on the team who is in the upper two grades and that’s junior Matthew Heatherington.
However, sophomore Tyler Jenkins returns off a strong freshman season in which he earned all-OVAC and all-District. Freshman Logan Dodd, who was impressive running two miles in junior high, makes the move up in distance, but Brown likes his progress.
Sophomore Jett Stephen will be one to keep an eye on as well. Freshman Tre Haney and first-time runner Jonothan Carpenter are also in the mix.
The balance of the boys’ roster includes sophomore Jacob Webb, freshmen Cooper Bell and Landry Burke.
The boys squad lost Aaron Marovich, Kyle Keiser and Draven Persons to graduation.
The Shamrock girls will have plenty of new faces at the line. Though they lost only one runner, from their top five, to graduation in Taylor Clemons, the Shamrocks are replacing three others due to a myriad of reasons.
“We’re essentially starting over,” Brown admitted. “We had a girl unable to run due to health reasons, one moved and move just decided not to come out.”
Add it all up and sophomore Emma Helmick is expected to take over the top spot for the Shamrocks.
Freshman Aubry Johnson is progressing well and should factor into the equation. Sophomore Jordyn Strous is another to keep an eye on.
Battling for the remaining top five spots are seniors Sydney Carpenter, Kiera Bumgardner and Emily McGee along with freshman Kaylee Graham.
Brown also has high hopes for the continued progress of juniors Jessie West, Jenetta Campbell, Abby Moore and sophomore Phaedra Jackson.
Other graduation losses included Annie Carpenter, Taylor Clemons, Harlie Stewart and Addy Wildes.
Brown is being assisted by Melissa Dodd.
BELLAIRE — Chris Arno begins his 24th season at the helm of the tradition-laden Big Reds’ program and boasts a solid collection of boys and girls runners.
On the girls’ side, the “dynamic” of the team was affected because of the graduation of Sydney Purtiman, who was a four-year mainstay.
“The success of this year’s squad will depend on how quickly our younger runners develop and how hard our upperclassmen work throughout the season and races,” Arno said.
The girls’ team will be led by senior standout Katrina Davis, who has competed at the regional twice in her career and earned all-OVAC.
Davis will be joined at the line by classmates Tayah Frazier, Ashley Speece and Abbie Gianangeli. Junior Kaleigh Leigh will also contribute. Two newcomers are freshmen Bethany McElfresh and Jenna Soland.
On the boys’ side, the Big Reds will be looking to close the gap, both on the field and each other.
“The key for this year’s team is to grow as the season progresses and we have to close the gap between our two through seven runners,” Arno said. “Even though we are young, we have set some big goals and we want to continue the strong team tradition many other teams have helped establish over the years.”
The Big Reds boast nary a senior, but junior Jacob Defibaugh is the unquestioned leader after a strong season in 2018 and track season this spring. He’s joined at the line by juniors Brennen Craig, Ryan Hicks and Aric Coffman.
The lone sophomore in the program is Nico Piergallini. Freshmen vying for a spot in the top seven are Andrew Rupp, Devin Schramm, Tyce Hughes, Austin Lowe, Stefan Palenicek and Chase Corbett.
“We lost some great kids and runners to graduation, but their work ethics have helped motivate our younger runners,” Arno explained. “Our kids have put in a great summer and we hope it will pay off throughout the season.”
Boys who collected their diplomas were Isaiah Wilhelm, Robby Hicks, Hunter Huston and Clayton Roskovich.
Arno is being assisted by Tyler Stewart, Trenton Gibson and his wife, Ann.
BRIDGEPORT — Jen Fillipovich begins her third season at the helm of the Bulldogs program with an increased level of excitement.
“This is going to be an exciting year for us as we come in with a full boys team dedicated to cross country,” Fillipovich said. “All of the runners have worked hard throughout summer conditioning and have come into the season (ready to go).”
The Bulldogs boys consist of six runners, including juniors Brennan Meager, Timmy Stanton and Neil White along with sophomores C.J. Fouty, John Tully and Sean White.
“Each of the boys has been making big improvements in their times and working hard on creating new PR goals,” Fillipovich continued.
Only two girls — sophomores Cheyenne Fillipovich and Bailey Dyson — are out for the squad.
“The team participated, during the summer, in community events promoting their peers with disabilities,” Fillipovich said. “They were in the autism color run and then the Team Terror Fitness parade. I want the team not only to put into the season and their running goals, but to also give back to the community and their peers.”
BUCKEYE LOCAL — Numbers are up in the Panthers’ program, which is exciting for coaches Diane and Wayne McCracken.
Six boys are on the roster for Buckeye, including seniors Brody Cermak, Jacob Pielech and Conrad Schuetz, junior Nathan Jarrell, freshmen Cai McKeever and Dayne Carter. However, Carter is injured and Diane McCracken indicated he “may be sidelined for the season due to a foot injury.”
Cermak is expected to lead the Panthers.
The Buckeye Local girls will also boast a — as it pertains to meet scoring — a full team. The roster includes junior Sierra Sterling, sophomore Hester Lambright, freshmen Corissa Griffith and Haley Langsdorf.
Sterling is expected to be Buckeye’s top runner.
“Wayne and I are looking forward to working with a hard-working group of runners,” McCracken said. “The kids have really worked hard for the season.”
BUCKEYE TRAIL — The Warriors have underwent a coaching change with Nathan Fisher, a long-time assistant, ascending to the head-coaching job.
The Warriors are an up-and-coming program, which is reflected by their roster size. Included are eight girls and eight boys.
Taking over a program with solid numbers and one that boasts a returning all-Ohioan isn’t a bad place to start. Sophomore Kathryn Williams finished 20th in the Division III state meet last November. She was also the district champion, OVAC Class 3A champion and finished fourth in the regional.
The balance of the girls squad includes: senior Chaplain Bamfield, senior Journey Jeffrey, senior Abbi Gray, junior Julianna Kinas, freshmen Morgan Atkinson, MacKenzie Atkinson and Sam Jackson.
“Our girls have had the most consistent summer that we’ve had and I think that will show this season,” Fisher said. “I’m excited to see their peak from that foundation running. We have a goal of jumping into the top three teams of the district. My only concern is this group is injury, which has been nagging at some of the newer runners. Our girls have bought in and are ready to go.”
The Warriors boys, meanwhile, must replace graduated Luke Howald, who was a regional qualifier.
Fisher spoke highly of junior Matthew Garcia, sophomore Bryce Eagon, sophomore Shaun Jackson and senior Ross Robinson.
Others vying for a varsity spot are junior Tegan Williams, sophomore Gavin Bates, junior Zack Cutlip and freshman Hunter Molisee.
“I am encouraged by our young core of runners, who are currently jostling for the open top position,” Fisher said. “This group is more focused on getting a pack of their top five collectively higher in races.”
HARRISON CENTRAL — As it pertains to his Huskies, Doug Drapp doesn’t have a crystal ball to be able to look into to figure out exactly how his team will perform this season.
However, he does know one thing for certain. His team has the work ethic and attitude to be very successful.
“We have a really great group this year,” Drapp said. “Everyone is in great spirits and working really hard. I am excited to see how the season unfolds.”
Numbers are certainly up in Cadiz, too. The boys squad has no fewer than 11 competitors vying for the seven varsity spots and there are seven girls.
The boys team is led by senior Eric Leech, who is coming off an impressive track season in which he qualified for the state meet in the 1600 meter run.
Senior Adam Ripley has been a mainstay the last three seasons for the Huskies. Juniors Logan Laney and Luke Forrester will also contribute. Sophomores Colton Howell and Justin Sampson earned a letter a season ago.
The balance of the roster includes sophomore Avery Wallace, freshman Charles Garbrandt, senior Andy Drapp, freshmen Sean Drapp, Thomas Sasak and sophomore Aiden Raber.
A pair of returning state qualifiers highlight the Huskies’ girls’ squad. Junior Jasmine Arnold has been one of the area’s top runners in each of her first two prep seasons. She’ll be joined at the line by sophomore Destiny Arnold, who also qualified for state last November.
Juniors Katie Byer and McKenzi Howell boast experience from a season ago. The balance of the roster is freshmen Sierra Stull, Grace Dulkoski and Selena Mojica.
LINSLY — Third-year coach Nate Cumberworth believes his Cadets have the most talent that they’ve had in his relatively brief tenure.
Senior Gabe Hicks will lead the way for the Cadets. Newcomer Shane McCready appears set to push Hicks, while freshman Noah Jenewein has also looked strong during the preseason.
Devesh Shah, who had played soccer, joined the cross team after a strong spring in the 3200 meter run. Sophomore Xander Plute is another Cumberworth is high on.
The balance of the Cadets roster includes junior Everett Poole, sophomores Jeb Bertram and Brooke Zhu as well as frosh John-Michael Zimmerman.
“I really expect us to be competitive in the OVAC Class 3A race and I look forward to seeing these guys improve throughout the season,” Cumberworth said. “I realize it won’t be easy, but these guys are very determined. The newly added talent has boosted the team all around. These guys motivate each other.”
MARTINS FERRY — Coming off an OVAC sweep in 2018 and losing just a handful of pieces to graduation, head coach Chrissy Lewis begins her 15th season at the helm with solid expectations.
The Purple Rider boys must find a way to replace top runner Justin Geery, who is now competing at Division I St. Francis University in Laretto, Pa. However, everyone else is back.
Included are junior Eli Smith, sophomore Trent Lewis, junior Wyatt Wodarcyk, junior Mike Lyle, sophomore Francis Toohey, sophomore Mitch Tickerhoof, senior Mike Buksa and junior C.J. Anderson.
“Our boys had a great season last year by winning the OVAC and qualifying for the regional and we’re hoping to do both again,” Lewis said. “We want to show a strong, united team all season.”
The balance of the roster includes: senior Kyle Fogle, junior Charlie Anderson, sophomores Alex Cunningham, Josh Dalrymple, Chad Love, Waylan Mylnek, Jackson Romshak and Quentin Temple.
The girls’ losses ran much deeper with Natalie Forsyth and Olivia Walton collecting their diplomas in May. Forsyth, who is now running collegiately at Muskingum, narrowly missed a state meet berth.
Three holdovers from the 4A title team are senior Chloe Hill, senior Hope Lewis and sophomore Hannah Hupp. Meanwhile, three freshmen have joined the mix. They include Josie Hancock, Jacqulynn Gill and Gia Starkey, who is out for the sport for the first time.
“Our girls are talented, but we need to put in consistent work to see success.”
RIVER — The Pilots’ program continues to grow and make strides. Head coach Amy Shreve believes she may have one of her strongest teams to date.
The Pilots girls, who finished second in the OVAC last season, features eight competitors.
Leading the way is senior standout Livi Beard, who is coming off a season in which she qualified for the Division III state meet.
She’ll be joined at the line by senior Jenna Tucker, senior Julianna Taylor, senior Alli Long, junior Adrianna Karpacs-Brown, junior Sofie Myers, sophomore Kylie Piatt and sophomore Camryn Caldwell.
On the boys’ side, the Pilots feature all-Ohio track competitor Cooper Brown. A standout this spring in the 400 meter dash, Brown finished third in the state in the lap dash and will lead the CC squad, which also features senior Justin Fisher and freshman Kolton Dotterer.
“We have a very strong team — with a lot of experience — this year,” Shreve said. “Our runners, because of their pre-season work, are already running at a higher level. I’m excited to see how they do in our first meet at Buckeye Local (Tuesday).
Shreve is being assisted by Valerie Fisher.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Tony Ciroli’s Red Devils experienced the normal ups and downs that come with a season of growing pains.
However, those growing pains could pay dividends this season.
“I have some good numbers and with those numbers comes some good talent,” Ciroli said. “I am looking forward to a good, competitive season.”
St. C.’s boys do return their lone regional qualifier in junior Hunter Tomich, but still must replace the graduated Brandon Coss, Jason Panas, Justin Hoover, Noah Broan and Zac Orzolek.
Slated to join Tomich at the varsity starting line are senior Matt Marling, sophomore Matt Ponzani, junior Zack Riffle, junior Nate Yost, sophomore Gannon Kazmirski and sophomore Ryan McCort.
The balance of the Red Devils’ roster includes: seniors Andrew Nguyen, Xavier Williams, sophomores Brendan Miller, T.J. Sacco, Nathan Ellison, freshmen Zach McKeever and Jarod Holstein.
On the girls’ squad, St. C. also returns a regional qualifier in sophomore Allyson Evonek. The Devils must replace Caroline Smith and Tiffany Burghy from a team that finished in the OVAC Class 4A.
Evonek will be pushed by junior Maggie Marody, sophomore Kylie McKeegan, sophomore Shay Baker, junior Victoria Trouten, junior Ellie Thomas and freshman Mattie Arbenz.
Challenging to crack the top seven are junior Jordan Jester, junior Jeanne Nguyen, sophomore Paige Koshenko, sophomore Brenna Planey, junior Madison Ruiz, sophomores Dakota Phillips, Haven Brak and freshman Shay Davis.
SHADYSIDE — After graduating one of the premier runners in school history in Chase Stewart, who is now competing at Youngstown State, head coach Joel Joseph is looking for someone to step up.
The Tigers have only three boys out for the team, including senior Adam Davis, senior Nick Murphy and sophomore Landon Salgat.
The Tiger girls have enough for a team, but can’t afford any injuries with just five on the roster. Former state qualifier Katie James returns after electing not run last season. She’ll be joined by senior Cali Weber, junior Abbie Brown, freshman Kenzie Beckett and freshman Alex Dippel.
“We have a pretty solid nucleus on the girls’ side, but we lack depth,” Joseph said. “It’s frustrating not being able to field a (full) boys team again this year. The kids have been working hard and doing what I’ve asked of them.”
UNION LOCAL — There’s been a changing of the guard at the top of the Jets program. Former St. John Central head coach Lindy Stauffer has taken over the reins from Joe Meholovitch.
Stauffer inherits a program on solid footing in terms of its numbers. The Jets have 16 boys and six girls.
“I have been out of the sport for three years, so I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach again,” Stauffer said. “Since I got the job (in the summer), we got a much later start than most teams did, but everyone has been working very hard. I am looking forward to seeing how everyone does throughout the season.”
The girls’ roster consists of senior Bri Bumgardner, junior Maddie Sells, sophomore Kalleigh Stoner, junior Sierra Scott, sophomore April Funkhouser and freshman Scarlett Clark.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if they finished in a different order every meet throughout the season,” Stauffer admitted.
On the boys’ side, there’s good balance between the four grades. Included are seniors Luke Snyder, Brock Fankhouser, juniors Tommy Walsh, Skylar Thompson, Parker Skedel, Andrew Martin, Beaux Clark, Shawn Coe, Chad Barbe, sophomores Shane Tidrick, Gavin Pourie, Johnathan Kemp, Derek Garrison, freshmen Austin Stoner, Dylan Moore and Bryley Jennewein.
Graduation claimed standout Hannah Kemp, who enjoyed a brilliant 2018 season. Also gone is Andrew Smith.
Stauffer is being assisted by Anna Snyder.
WHEELING PARK — Jacob Galik begins his eighth season as the boys head coach and sixth with the girls with the Patriots with some question marks surrounding his teams.
One area that’s not in question is the squad size. No fewer than 48 runners are in the Patriots’ program. However, figuring out who will comprise the ‘varsity’ unit remains in question, especially on the boys side.
Park, which finished fourth in the West Virginia Class AAA state meet and OVAC runnerup, lost five of its top seven, including reigning individual state champion, Ronnie Saunders, who is now competing at Marshall.
“I am sure people will expect us to regress a little after what was our most successful season to date,” Galik said. “Last year was special, but it was last year and these guys are hungry to establish their own legacy.”
Other graduation losses include Quintin Thomas, C.J. Powell, Max Warnick and Brenden Sands.
Returning lettermen for the boys are Vincent DiProsperis, Isaak Murphy and Brady Miller.
The balance of the boys roster includes: Hyde Alig, Ben Ashmore, Ethan Bryant, Cal Chacolos, Michael Crow, Shawn Crow, Nate Farley, Andrew Fisher, Jacob Glenz, Charlie Ihlenfeld, Nick Kovalski, Hunter Midcap, Eli Miller, Isaak Miller, Ryan Montanye, Max Morgan, Austin Musilli, William Nickerson, Jonah Nizami, Justin Riggs, Garrett Rogerson, Ethan Romanek, Seth Scott, Trent Thomas, Chris Vargo, Ethan Waldeck, Cody Walsh and Cole Wilds.
On the girls’ side, the Patriots are coming off a season in which they finished third in the OVAC and fifth in the regional. Couple that success with the fact that the only graduation loss was Melina McCabe and things are looking up for the Patriots.
“We bring back nearly our entire regional roster and get back Isabella DiSaia, who was injured last year,” Galik said. “We had gone to state the previous two seasons, so it stung a little not going last year. The region is loaded (this season), so we have our work cut out for us, but the girls have put in a ton of work over the summer. I believe we will be the best we can be.”
Along with DiSaia, other returnees are Isabella Romance, Isabella Roth, Emily Croft, Maddie Gilson and McKenna Dunbar.
Others looking to work their way into the Pats’ lineup are Emilee Beihl, Isabella Border, Erin Brogan, Emma Carerra, Emily Harmon, Azlyn Kurtz, Marlee Porter, Mary Porter, Deena Rosenthal, Lacey Wright and Chantel Maxwell.
Galik is being assisted by Sarah Smith and Jarred Beihl.