With only one runner gone from a team that went to state last fall, fans of Brunswick’s girls cross country team have every reason to be excited.
But after leading the Blue Devils to the Division I state championship in 2011, coach Kerry Hunter isn’t ready to predict what’s going to happen.
“On paper, they are probably the deepest, but the 2011 team won a state title and this team hasn’t won a thing yet,” said Hunter, who will not be coaching until Sept. 1 due to the terms of his retirement from teaching. “They are pretty special because they have learned from some impressive past leaders. Most of this year’s team ran with (former Brunswick runners Loren McDaniel, Selena Pasadyn and Alexis Uber), so they got to experience their leadership first hand.
“Only time will tell where they fit in Blue Devils cross country lore.”
Led by reigning Gazette MVP Vanessa Pasadyn and fellow All-Gazette first-teamers Tara Horton, Jenna Scott, Katie Pavlick and Emily LaPolla, Brunswick is loaded with talent.
Buckeye, the only other team to advance to regionals in 2012, will look to extend its Patriot Athletic Conference title streak to nine, while Medina will look to make it back to the regional round after its run of 22 consecutive appearances was snapped last year.
Here’s a look at Medina County’s seven teams:
Coach: Adam Laskos (6th season).
Assistant coaches: Colleen LaHood, Robert Altenburger.
Last season: No team standings in postseason.
Key letterwinners lost: None.
Returning letterwinners: Angie Kazek (sr.), Lexie Maund (jr.), Krista Leonard (so.).
Top newcomers: Sarah Kelley (fr.), Delaney Toth (sr.).
Outlook: Kelley is a big addition after a strong eighth-grade season in which she finished runner-up in the PAC.
“Sarah is showing promise,” Laskos said. “She still has more training to do, but watch for her to push toward the front of the varsity group.”
Kelley will provide much-needed depth to a squad that has just five runners, while Toth is a first-year senior.
Coach: Kerry Hunter (20th season).
Assistant coaches: Melissa Wojtala, John Reminder.
Last season: 1st NOC Valley, 1st Strongsville D-I District, 2nd Tiffin D-I Regional, 11th D-I state.
Key letterwinner lost: Anastasia Fitzroy.
Returning letterwinners: Vanessa Pasadyn (so., Gazette MVP), Tara Horton (sr., All-Gazette), Jenna Scott (so., All-Gaztte), Katie Pavlick (jr., All-Gazette), Emily LaPolla (jr., All-Gazette), Kristine Camper (sr.), Hannah Meyer (jr), Becca Ogorzaly (jr.).
Top newcomers: Johanna Schick (jr.), Rebecca Craddock (fr.), Taylor Canfield (fr.).
Outlook: Pasadyn was the top local finisher at the state meet last fall, clocking a personal-record 19:02.2 in placing 52nd. Scott, Horton, LaPolla, Meyer and Pavlick also posted times of 19:55 or faster and should make for an impressive pack.
“If everyone stays healthy and runs like they should, you have to think we will be better than last year,” Hunter said. “Does each girl improve or do they take a step back? I like our girls’ mindset. They are a tough bunch of kids.”
Until Hunter can pick up coaching duties on Sept. 1, Wojtala and Reminder have been running the program.
Coach: Jon Brenenstuhl (3rd season).
Assistant coaches: Joe Srodek, Lisa Auber.
Last season: 1st PAC, 3rd Lorain D-II District, 16th Tiffin D-II Regional.
Key letterwinners lost: Jordan Walker, Dennell Cormany, Rhyanna Wroblesky.
Returning letterwinners: Isabelle Petek (jr.), Mady Williams (jr.), Erica Fauver (sr.).
Top newcomers: Emily Porter (sr.), Korrie Czerwony (fr.), Madison Harmon (fr.).
Outlook: Petek was a key factor in the Bucks keeping their PAC championship streak alive with a one-point victory over Keystone in the conference postseason meet. The All-PAC selection recorded a career-best 21:18.05 in a fourth-place showing. Fellow returnees Erica Fauver and Mady Williams also posted top-20 finishes in the event and will lead a group loaded with young talent, which includes first-year runner Porter, who Brenenstuhl notes should have an immediate impact.
Coach: Garth Gucker (3rd season).
Assistant coach: Marty Ryan.
Last season: 7th SL, 11th Strongsville D-I District.
Key letterwinner lost: Tricia Rice.
Returning letterwinners: Ashley Murray (sr.), Brandee Bell (jr.), Molly Biegel (jr.), Reiley Tivenan (jr.,) Sarah Sommers (jr.), Leah Nagel (so.), Anna Winnicki (so.), Emma Reed (so.).
Top newcomers: Hannah Swain (jr.), Rachael Kollar (jr.), Erian Hamilton (so.), Riley Freeland (fr.), Faith Theobald (fr.), Allison Chudzinski (fr.).
Outlook: Murray made significant improvement during track season, highlighted by a seventh-place finish in the 3,200-meter run at the D-I state meet, and is poised to translate that success. The second-team All-SL pick posted a team-low 20:31 a year ago. She will be key in leading a young team that includes a handful of newcomers ready to make names for themselves. Freeland, the daughter of 1990 Gazette track and field MVP Dave Freeland, was Cloverleaf’s top middle school runner.
Coach: Devin Lippincott (11th season).
Assistant coach: None.
Last season: 3rd SL, 7th Strongsville D-I District.
Key letterwinner lost: Nicole Hadler.
Returning letterwinners: Carlee Rhoads (so., All-Gazette), McKenna Stewart (sr.), Maggie Christopher (sr.), Paige Jogan (sr.), Katie Piar (jr.).
Top newcomer: Jessica Bently (fr.).
Outlook: Rhoads had a breakout rookie year, advancing to regionals and recording one of the top 10 times in the county. Combine her with Stewart, Christopher, Jogan and Piar — all have two or more years of varsity experience — and talented newcomer Bently, who has caught the eye of Lippincott in the early going, and this season’s squad has a lot of potential.
“We have a nice mix of veterans and young talent,” Lippincott said. “Carlee’s our No. 1, but she’s still learning how to run in races and this group of seniors is special.”
Coach: Scott VanFleet (1st season).
Assistant coach: Jordan Olson.
Last season: 6th NOC Valley, 5th Strongsville D-I District.
Key letterwinners lost: Alexis Smith, Katherine Phillips.
Returning letterwinners: Maria Scavuzzo (sr., All-Gazette), Sarah Pack (jr.), Tessa Dombi (sr.), Kathryn Grenfell (sr.), Aliah Keller (so.), Sydney VanLeeuwen (sr.), Kimmy Vidika (sr.).
Top newcomers: Tarynn Cullings (fr.), Jessica Wolf (fr.), Ava Pottschmidt (so.).
Outlook: After seeing its two-decade-long streak of regional appearances snapped last fall, the Bees are on a mission. Led by Scavuzzo and Pack, a host of veterans will set the pace in Medina’s bid to get back to Tiffin.
“We are very optimistic about improving on last year’s season,” said VanFleet, who replaced Phil Brewer. “We have a very experienced team that I believe learned a great deal about what it takes to be successful from last year.”
Scavuzzo and Pack were regional qualifiers last fall and broke the 21-minute mark, along with fellow returnee Keller. Cullings was the NOC middle school champion last season.
Coach: Michelle Farr (3rd season, 8th overall).
Assistant coaches: None.
Last season: 2nd SL, 8th Strongsville D-I District.
Key letterwinners lost: Ally Malkowski, Kenzi Hines, Hattie Yonker.
Returning letterwinners: Cara Powell (sr.), Moira Priest (jr.), Kassidy Deuber (jr.), Rachel Cossick (so.), Madison Gunselman (so.), Elaina Delmoro (so), Julia Drury (so.).
Top newcomers: Anne Beddow (jr.), Sonya Wyrick (jr.), Hannah Ekers (so.), Elizabeth Heckler (so.), Lauren Rogers (fr.).
Outlook: With the loss of Hines and Yonker to season-ending injuries, the Grizzlies lost depth. The team does, however, return a strong pack ready to compete for the SL title. A pair of second-team All-SL selections in Cara Powell and Moira Priest lead the way, and both broke the
21-minute plateau, along with Drury.
A pleasant surprise has been the improvement of Gunselman, who Farr noted will aide in scoring and leadership. Deuber, another second-team All-SL pick, and Powell are nearing 100 percent after sustaining offseason injuries.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.