PREBLE COUNTY — The high school cross country season begins this weekend and National Trail Raceway is circled on on the schedule of many of the county teams.
The raceway is where the state meet will be held the first weekend in November.
Eaton boys seeking return trip to state; girls set lofty goals
Eaton’s boys’ team won a district championship last year and reached the state meet and many of those same runners are back, while the girls will be looking to get back to the regional for the first time in several years.
Coach Randy McKinney enters his 37th season at the helm of the Eagles.
Returning runners for the boys team: Cole Bulach (Sr.) State Qualifier, All-Regional, All-District, All-League; Alex McCarty (Jr.) State Qualifier, All-Regional, All-District, All-League; Jack Bortel (Soph) State Qualifier, All-District, All-League; Alex Newport (Jr.) State Qualifier, All-District, All-League; Todd Coates (Jr.) State Qualifier, All-District, All-League; Dylan Suding (Sr.) State Qualifier, All-District, All-League; Austin Kopf (Soph) State Alternate; Gideon Smith (Sr.) State Alternate; LeKendric Brown (Jr.) State Alternate.
Returning for the girls: Brooke Caplinger (Sr.) Honorable Mention All-League; Claire Meyer (Sr.) Honorable Mention All-District, Honorable Mention All-League; Brianna Baker (Jr.); Alexis Owen (Jr.); Rachel Buckler (Soph); Cari Metz (Soph).
Newcomers for the girls: Allison Mowen (Fr.) — expect her to step into a varsity roll immediately and continually improve as the season progresses and she adjusts to the 5k distance,” McKinney said.
“We have several other girls and boys that could make a huge impact with both teams once we get them ready to compete,” McKinney said.
McKinney said he expect the girls team to show growth this season.
“For the girls team it will be a year in which there should be great growth and progress as the season unfolds. Team goals for the girls are – place in the top three at the SWBL Championships, place in the top seven at the district championships and qualify to the regional championships,” he said.
The boys are expecting to challenge for a league title and more.
“For the boys team it will also be a year in which we should see great growth and progress as the season unfolds. Team goals are to compete for another SWBL team title, compete for another district championship title, place in the top four at the regional championships and advance on to the state championships as in 2017,” McKinney said. “The boys have created high expectations about what they would like to be prepared to do in the championship races at the end of the regular season.”
McKinney is expecting an exciting season.
“I believe it is going to be a very exciting season for both the girls and boys teams. The girls have to really work to find their team identity and develop together as we progress through the season. Most of the girls have worked really hard this summer and have set some outstanding individual & team goals for this season,” McKinney said. “The boys have a lot of experience returning and most of them have worked hard this summer to prepare for what they expect to be a big season individually, for the team and the overall program. The coaching staff is very excited about this season. We know we have a lot work to put in as the season progresses week to week. Our keys to the season will be keeping our athletes healthy.
Trail returns experience
The boys team is returning all key contributors from last season’s conference championship team and regional qualifiers. The team is led by its four seniors Travis Hunt, Josh Bishop, Ian Miller, and Adam Eyler.
The boys will count on a solid sophomore class to help carry the team where they would like to be at the end of the season.The team would like to build off of last seasons success and improve results in the most important meets at the end of the season.
The girls team lost a four year contributor and leader in JaLynn Byrd. The ladies, though, return the top four runners from last year along with a couple solid contributors.
The team will be lead by senior Evan Byrd with a strong core of aophomores running strong in Molly Skinner, Lauren Sargeant, Halle Osborne, and Lauren Murphy.
North coach taking wait and see approach
Tri-County North has eight runners returning in the program and added three freshman.I just received this email at 8:15p tonight.
Coach Timothy Martin enters his sixth season and is taking a wait and see approach on the seaon.
Returning runners: Brandon Smeltzer (Sr.), Ryan Combs (Sr.), Ian Alexander (Jr.), Hailey Brumley (Jr.), Julia Myers (Jr.), Caitlyn McCullough (Jr.), Addie Singleton (Soph), Abigail Smeltzer (Soph).
Freshmen: Hunter Pahl, Robbie Quinn, Kylie Cooper.
South expects to be competitive
Richie Faber is entering his 10th season as coach at Twin Valley South. He has several boys returing and is one girl shy of having a full team.
South is returning most of team for last year.
The Panthers have three seniors in Curtis Hittle, Seth Craft and Brandan Wright, who was first team All-CCC and a regional qualifier last year coming back. Returning juniors are Chris Keener and Kyle Saul, who was first team All-CCC and a regional qualifier last year.
One returning sophomore in Justus Craft and two freshmen, Aaron Cole and Lee Swafford. Both ran on our junior high team last year.
”I think we have a very talented group this year. We are looking to be very competitive in the Cross County Conference and we hope to make it to the regional meet as a team,” Faber said.
For the girls, South is returning one senior, Evelyn Woodgeard and two juniors Maggie Johnson and Zoe Utsinger.
Utsinger was first-team All-CCC and a regional qualifier last year. South also has one freshman, Isabella Mills, who should make a good addition to the varsity team.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH