The Magnificat cross country team lost two of their top runners to graduation, but they still plan on defending their 2010 state championship. Graduates Kat Stultz will be running for the University of Notre Dame (South Bend), and Laura Hogan will be running for St. Louis University this fall. Senior Abbie Marquard and juniors Macey Walker, Katherine Kerr, and Shannon Sullivan will be the veteran voices on this year’s squad. They have five notable freshman runners this year to round out the team in Elise Horning, Brooke McQiunn, Victoria Meyer, Molly Sullivan, and Katie Whitmore.
They expect to qualify for the State meet as a team and compete well at the Nike Midwest Regional Meet this year.
Head coach Anjanette Arabian Whitman is going into her 10th year at Magnificat.
She said, “While we graduated two seniors of our top five, we have several talented and eager athletes ready to step up into the ranks. Several of our JV cross country members made significant progress during the 2011 track season. Additionally, many incoming freshman show promise to add to the mix of existing talent. Three of the five incoming freshman are the younger sisters of runners who have enjoyed helping the team to earn State championship titles. While we never compare the abilities of sisters, we do know that they appreciate and respect the tradition of success that their sisters have helped to create.”
Rocky River (Girls)-
The Rocky River girls cross country team returns five of it’s seven runners from their 3rd place Division II State meet finish, but will have to step up and compete in Division I this season as OHSAA has redistributed the divisions.
The returning letter winners are senior co-captain Elyse Beirut, junior Madi Connelly, junior Anna Eversman, senior co-captain Maddy McDonough, and senior Megan O’Keefe. Other returning runners are sophomore Ellen Corcoran, junior Anna Eames, sophomore Emma Russ, senior Addy Scott, and junior Anne Swartz. New members of the team are freshman Gabby Gannon, sophomore Cassie Hamker, freshman Elizabeth Mead, freshman Elizabeth Weger, and senior Blaire Wessling.
Coming off an outstanding season last year, winning conference, Districts, and Regionals with a 3rd place finish at State, the team hopes to be competitive in Division I this season. The girls are coming off a great season in Division I track with several of the girls making the podium.
Head coach Laura Brabant is going into her 14th year with the team.
She said, “I am looking forward to a great season. The girls have worked hard and are ready to compete at the Division I level. We have some very strong runners as leaders for the newer and younger runners. With 5 of 7 returning from last year, this is a strength! We have a few girls that ran last year that really stepped it up over the summer and look really strong and will be striving to be the 6 and 7 [runners].”
The Westlake boys cross country team has a revamped look this year with 18 new runners on the roster. The returning letter winners are junior Aaron Brown, senior Chad Clark, junior Kevin Dempsey, senior Stephen Fleisher, senior Zach Goodman, senior James Jenkins, sophomore Gavin Kelley, junior Jonathan Simon, and sophomore Daniel Squeri.
The strength of this year’s squad has to be pure numbers. They are hoping that some of the new runners will be able to have an impact as the season progresses.
Head coach Cindy Bailey is in her 4th year at Westlake High School.
She said, “My returning lettermen have been diligently logging miles over the summer. I anticipate solid running seasons this year from each of them. James Jenkins retuned to cross country this year. He played soccer last year, so we are very happy to have him back. Tenth grader Gavin Kelley really made an impact as a freshman last year. I anticipate Gavin to continue to improve on his time and placement in the meets. Aaron Brown and Jonathan Simon battled last year as our 5th and 6th runners. I expect them to continue to run close to one another again this year. Chad Clark, Zach Goodman, and Stephen Fleischer will duel it out for the last spots on the varsity squad. We placed 5th last year at the SWC meet and are looking to improve on that finish.”
The Westlake girls cross country team is coming off a season where they won the Vermillion and Andrew Osbourne Academy invitational meets and placed 2nd at the Tiffin invitational’s “B” division. The key returning runners are junior Liz Kobe, sophomore Grace Jenkins (who finished 1st in the 14 and under division of the Cleveland Marathon), junior Brittany Antognazzi, senior Megan Duffy, sophomore Katherine Garruto, junior Nora Lee, sophomore Hannah McCarthy, and junior Bridget Smik. The key newcomers are junior Rachel Collins and freshmen Paige Dawson, Morgan Hansen, and Madeline Lee. There are seven or eight girls fighting for the #3-7 spots on the varsity roster. This year’s team has seen growth like no other. They have a total squad numbering 34 on the roster, and there is not enough room to print all of their names. With that said, depth has to be their largest asset.
Head coach Travis Haselswerdt said, “We have a lot of girls and hopefully we can find some surprises in there. The more numbers you have, the more of a chance you’ll find some quality talent. We’re very excited for this year. Our size [as a team] is pretty impressive. Our goals a very grounded this year. We want to do well in the mid-level invitationals. Our big goal this year is to qualify as a team at Regionals. If we did that, I’d be very happy.”
North Olmsted (Boys)-
The North Olmsted boys cross country team hopes to improve on a disappointing 2010 season where they finished eighth in the Southwest Conference. They have seven varsity lettermen returning this year including seniors Dan Hollo, Ronnie Fox, Kevin Stieger, and Cameron Ressel. They have a couple of promising newcomers this year including freshman Chase Nester and junior Zach Kozik (varsity track team’s top 2-miler).
Head coach Michael D’Alessandro has been in charge of the program for eight years now.
He said, “As always, the team enters this season with a positive attitude, high expectations, and hopes of surpassing previous North Olmsted cross country teams. The core of this year’s team is a talented group of seniors that has the potential to do great things together, provided they stay healthy. In addition, the future looks bright as this year’s team boasts a talented group of freshmen. The entire team works hard and loves to run. The team had enormous potential going into last season, but injuries to several key runners halted any progress. If the same problems continue, it could be another long season. However, many of this year’s runners gained valuable varsity experience last season due to those injuries. Last year’s struggles may be this season’s virtues.”