Girls cross country: Girls look for better results in 2014

It was a tough 2013 season for local girls cross country teams as for the first-time ever no area teams or individuals qualified for the OHSAA state championships.
It was a tough offseason too.
Liberty-Benton longtime girls cross country coach Pat Wagner, the Eagles’ hall-of-fame coach, passed away due to complications of a stroke just after the state track championships in June.
JoAnne Heaster has been hired to take over the L-B girls program and she has a core group of five returning runners from last year’s unit that finished eighth as a team in the Division II regional meet.
Senior Madi Greiner and sophomore Meghan Bartel are back to lead the way for the Eagles after finishing 36th and 39th respectively at regionals.
The Eagles will get a shot at a league title for the first time in school history too as the Blanchard Valley Conference will hold its first cross country championship meet at Owens Community College on Oct. 11.
In Division III, teams from Mohawk and Pandora-Gilboa appear to lead the pack. Both schools have key runners back after finishing ninth and 10th respectively at regionals last year.
Elmwood, Hopewell-Loudon and Fostoria St. Wendelin are also looking for return trips to regional.
Kalida junior Katelyn Siebeneck is the top area individual back. She was 19th at regionals, missing a trip to state by just three spots.
Below is a look at the area’s girls cross country teams this season. Information on teams from Patrick Henry and Mohawk were unavailable.

HEAD COACH: Jen Smalley (1st year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: Didn’t field a complete team.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alexandra Boyadshiev, jr.
NOTABLE: Boyadshiev will be a one-girl team for the Bulldogs this season. She is coming off a solid spring in the distance races as a member of Ada’s girls track team.

HEAD COACH: Ashley Knowlton (5th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ashley Schweyer, jr.; Erica Sheehan, sr.; Mackayla Wilson, sr.; Amelia Heslep, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Olivia Sneary, sr.; Elizabeth Nisly, jr.; Sydney Hoff, fr.
NOTABLE: Bluffton’s numbers are down. But there’s good experience back with three seniors and three juniors. Four of those six upper classmen competed in last year’s Northwest Conference meet.

HEAD COACH: Dean Kessler (17th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 7th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Amber Spurlock, sr.; Allison Keller, jr.; Kristina Nusbaum, jr.; Hope Babb, soph.; Taylor Watkins, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Destiny DeFeo, fr.; Mikaylaa Putnam, sr.; Shelby Snyder, sr.; Maddie Moran, jr.; Savanna Day, jr.; Sarah Goble, soph.; Abbey Carter, fr.; Tara Gibson, fr.
NOTABLE: The Blue Devils have 13 girls on the team and will be looking to replace No. 1 runner and regional qualifier Jackie Troiano who graduated last spring.

Columbus Grove
HEAD COACH: Jason Jay (9th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 3rd in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alexis Ricker, sr.; Megan Langhals, sr.; Morgan Messer, jr.; Kirsten Malsam, soph.; Macy McCluer, soph.; Leah Myerholtz, soph.; Gracyn Stechschulte, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Taylor Ellerbrock, fr.; Kaitlyn Price, fr.
NOTABLE: Langhals and Myerholtz both posted top 10 finishes in the conference last season. With seven returning letterwinners, Columbus Grove is looking to climb the ladder in the conference this season.

HEAD COACH: Chris Hailey (19th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 3rd in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Emily Tracy, sr.; Emma Krassow, sr.; Keli Bradford, sr.; Alyssa Clack, sr.; Makayla Mohre, jr.; Madison Sears, jr.; Lindsay Spanfellner, jr.; Kelsey Bloom, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Liz Garner, sr.; Angelique Franks, sr.; Mallory Wolleson, jr.; Brionna Camden, soph.; Allison Arnold, fr.; Colleen Kreais, fr.
NOTABLE: The Royals qualified for regionals for the ninth straight year and all seven runners return this season. Winning the NBC and qualifying for state are the goals for the Royals this season.

HEAD COACH: Kim Cousin (11th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: Didn’t field a complete team.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Adrianna Eufracio, jr.; Taylor Keeley, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Andrea Keckler, soph.
NOTABLE: Eufracio led the team in the squad’s opener Saturday at the OHSAA preseason invitational.

Fostoria St. Wendelin
HEAD COACH: Ethan Reinhart (1st year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jocelyn Reinhart, sr.; Sara Goddard, sr.; Karin Goddard, sr.; Victoria Volpe, sr.; Samantha Digby, sr.; Lauren Meyers, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: The Mohawks are a little low on numbers but have some solid runners returning for new coach Ethan Reinhart, an alumnus of the school. Volpe and Sara Goddard were second team all-MAL honorees last season while Reinhart and Karin Goddard earned spots on the honorable mention all-league team.

HEAD COACH: Paul Jones (18th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Leah Reinhart, sr.; Kiley Siegel, sr.l; Katie Arnold, soph.; Lizzie Erlanger, soph.; Grace Portentoso, soph.; Lauren Shaver, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Marisa Heldman, soph.; Jazmine Nutter, fr.; Cameron Tidswell, fr; Natalie Hunt, fr.; Bailey Jamison, fr.
NOTABLE: A solid nucleus of six runners return from last year’s team that went to regionals and was second in the league. The Chieftains will also get a boost from a group of four freshmen that helped H-L win the MAL junior high title last season.

HEAD COACH: Kayla King (2nd year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Becca Brinkman, sr.; Jackie Gardner, sr.; Katelyn Siebeneck, jr.; Kelly Doepker, soph.; Kristen Fortman, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Allison Siebeneck, jr.
NOTABLE: Katelyn Siebeneck will be looking to build off a successful sophomore season. She was fourth at districts and was just three spots short of earning a spot in the OHSAA Division III state meet when she finished 19th at regionals.

HEAD COACH: Joanne Heaster (1st year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Madi Greiner, sr.; Devony Miller, sr.; Taylor Thomas, jr.; Andie Garver, jr.; Meghan Bartel, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Lindsay Bushong, fr.; Erin Ley, fr.; Allie Hunter, sr.; Tara Roeder, sr.; Gabrielle Yake, sr.; Michaela Butler, jr.; Julia Grubinski, jr.; Lexi Reeves, jr.; Michaela Haan, soph.; Megan Hyre, soph.; Demiya Miller, soph.; Melody Proehl, soph.; Tatum Teeple, soph.; Satara Perkins, fr.
NOTABLE: Five runners return from last year’s team that qualified for the Division II regional in Tiffin. The Eagles also have a new coach as Joanne Heaster takes over after veteran coach Pat Wagner passed away late last spring.

HEAD COACH: John Sunderman (2nd year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abbie Beall, soph.
NOTABLE: Newcomer is a three-year letterwinner for the Panthers.

New Riegel
HEAD COACH: Dan Beisner (14th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Gidge Elchert, soph.; Emily Schalk, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abby Mathias, jr.
NOTABLE: With just three runners, New Riegel will not field a full team this season.

North Baltimore
HEAD COACH: Brad Rowlinson (9th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Mariah Leonard, sr.; Leslie Busch, sr.; Raegan Fleckner, sr.; Taylor Grilliot, sr.; Megan Ernsberger, jr..
TOP PROSPECTS: Marina Kimmel, fr.
NOTABLE: Four seniors return for the Tigers this fall, including Leonard who is a three-year letterwinner.

HEAD COACH: Brad Leis (36th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Michaela Nordhaus, soph.; Jill Rosselit, sr.; Mallory Salsburey, soph.; Kelly Schmitz, sr.; Mandy Siebeneck, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Molly Davidson, soph.; Sami Fawcett, soph.; Madalyn Lehman, soph; TJ Nelson, soph.; Samantha Freeman, fr.; Emily Hamel, fr.
NOTABLE: Rosselit is back and will assume the No. 1 role for the Titans early on as she posted the best individual finish at the district meet last season for Ottawa-Glandorf.

HEAD COACH: Bob Kaple (46th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Elizabeth Luersman, sr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Elyse Baker, fr.; McKenna Byrne, fr.; Brittney Schleeter, fr.
NOTABLE: Luersman is a three-year letterwinner. Kaple likes the look of his three freshmen but with just four runners to start the season, the Big Green won’t likely qualify for team scoring this season.

HEAD COACH: Steve Amstutz (7th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Breana Hovest, sr.; Sarah Beechboard, soph.; Kristen Mullins, so;h.; Jordan Guthrie, soph.; Toria Hovest, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Taylor Keeler, soph.; Lydia Lugibihl, jr.; Olivia Velasquez, sr.
NOTABLE: Hovest is the top returning runner from last year’s team that qualified for regionals. The newcomer in the area that could have the most impact is P-G senior Olivia Velasquez, who had a dynamite track season for the Rockets last spring.

HEAD COACH: Kim Rall (9th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: Didn’t field a complete team.
TOP PROSPECTS: Tiffany Penwell, jr.; Toni Gallegos, soph.; Jenna Thomas, jr.; Audrey Leopold, fr.
NOTABLE: The Falcons appear to be one runner shy of competing in team races this season. The Falcons have switched conferences and will compete in the first-ever Blanchard Valley Conference meet hosted by Van Buren.

Upper Sandusky
HEAD COACH: Ed Arnold.
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Olivia Thomson, soph.; Zoe Garber, jr.; Kirsten Gardner, jr.; Monica Boes, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brittnue Bukovich, jr.; Kaitlyn Huston, sr.; Sydney Swavel, fr.; Yajaira Ayala, jr.; Tiffani Watkins, fr.; Alexis O’Flaherty; Caryn Gibson.
NOTABLE: Thomson returns after a solid freshman season for the Rams. She finished second as an individual in last year’s NCC championships.

Van Buren
HEAD COACH: Adam Schumaker (5th year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: No conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Elena Beitzel, jr.; Kaydee Marialke, sr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Emily Bado, soph.; Autumn Pisarsky, fr.
NOTABLE: Van Buren lost a solid crew of runners from last year’s team including standouts Rachelle Resnik and Michelle Flanagan who was a top five finisher in several races for the Black Knights last fall.



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