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2023 High School Girls Cross Country Preview

2023 High School Girls Cross Country Preview


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Head Coach: Jim Schweickert, 13th year.

Coaching Staff: Greg Cicero.

2022 Record: 2nd in Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

Returning Letterwinners (5): Abby Guyette, jr.; Erin Hallis, jr.; Kennedy Rhodes, jr.; Kyleigh Becka, jr.; Aspen Baynes, sr.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Elaine Guyette, Alyssa Hallis.

General Outlook: “We return three of our top-four runners and have added three freshmen that will be varsity runners,” Schweickert said. “We do not have a lot of depth, but good quality.

“We should be competitive with the top part of the division if everyone stays healthy and the freshmen progress as expected.”

Runners: Abby Guyette qualified for regionals last year and is already “running well,” according to Schweickert. She placed ninth in the division last year.

Erin Hallis was seventh in the division last year, while Kennedy Rhodes was 10th.

Piper Sebold, a freshman, is running cross country for the first time after competing in track and field in middle school. Sebold, along with Guyette, also plays volleyball in the fall.

Madie Grace Gonczy is another freshman joining the sport for the first time. She is returning to running after a hip injury in track, but was a league champion in track events during her seventh-grade year.

Freshman Piper Freedline is a strong competitor.

Kyleigh Becka has battled foot injuries, but is running well so far this preseason.

Aspen Baynes is the team’s lone senior and four-year runner and a good leader.


Head Coach: Ed Conroy, 18th year.

Coaching Staff: Becky Scott.

2022 Record: 3rd in Metro Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (6): Julia Potts, sr.; Kristin Toepke, sr.; Cassidy Wells, jr.; Maddie Adams, soph.; Jessica Pollard, jr.; Raegan Slusser, soph.

Letterwinners Lost: None.

General Outlook: “We are very excited for our girls program this year,” Conroy said. “We have 16 girls running this season and five of them are freshmen.”

Runners: Senior captains are Julia Potts and Kristin Toepke, with the Falcons’ top runners being Maddie Adams and Cassidy Wells.

Both Adams and Wells were First Team All-Metro Athletic Conference last year.

“They are more experienced this year.”

Jessica Pollard, Carter Shutty, Raegan Slusser, along with freshman Keegan Wyszynski, will all be fighting for top spots alongside Adams and Wells.

“It should drive the team to a strong team pack.”


Head Coach: Matt Pfleger, 3rd year.

Coaching Staff: None.

2022 Record: 2nd in Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (5): Kourtney Brahler, sr.; Zoey May, sr.; Loreal Puleo, jr.; Kat McMayon, soph.; Olivia Rowe, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (3): Megan Schaefer, Aubrey Stonestreet, Madelyn Stonestreet.

General Outlook: “We are coming off great cross country and track seasons last year and the team is poised to have another great season,” Pfleger said. “We hope to see them back at regionals, fighting for a chance to make it to the state meet.”

Runners: Kourtney Brahler and Zoey May are the team leaders.

“They do an amazing job leading by example. No matter what, I can count on these two to always work hard and never give up. I am excited to see what Kourtney does this season; the amount of work and miles that she has put in is really remarkable.

“I really think she will put up great times all season long.”

Two sophomores, Kat McMahon and Olivia Rowe, are already posting great practice times, according to Pfleger.

“Kat and Olivia have really been attacking each practice with tenacity and seem hungry to build on their success from their freshmen year.”

Lorela Puleo was injured last year, but appears ready to boost the team’s roster this year.

Among the team’s other returners are juniors Abby Kaufman and Christen Prinkey, who have already posted better times than last year’s marks.

“These two are hard workers, who never quit and are always trying to improve their times.”

Pfleger said the program also has a strong freshman class, including Becca Evans, Eva VonBergen, Presley Repasky, Abby Kolar and Kylene McMahon.


Head Coach: Matt Pazderak, 2nd year.

Coaching Staff: Kaylie Weigel, Ken Claypoole.

2022 Record: 6th in Suburban League American Division.

Returning Letterwinners (9): Emma Arthur, sr.; Jeanie Barzellato, sr.; Neveah Hersman, sr.; Maddie Baron, sr.; Evie Caldwell, jr.; Hannah Robinson, sr.; Nina Loofboro, sr.; Annie Leidtke, sr.; Peyton Richardson, soph.

Letterwinners Lost: None.

General Outlook: “We are excited for the season and building on our success and momentum from last season,” Pazderak said. “We had many athletes put in the training during the summer.

“We have many athletes in their first year in cross country, but have added a promising group of freshmen, as well.”

Runners: Pazderak points to Jeanie Barzellato, Emma Arthur, Maddie Baron and Hannah Robinson as runners to watch for the season.

Freshmen Marlena MacPherson and Sadie Yeagley will also be contributors.


Head Coach: Diana Morris, 3rd year.

Coaching Staff: Job Christiansen.

2022 Record: Portage Trail Conference champions, regional champions, 7th at state championship.

Returning Letterwinners (7): Julie Tompkins, jr.; Ari Tompkins, jr.; Katie Lane, sr.; Kai Gaetjens, soph.; Mia Gaetjens, sr.; Emma Quillen, jr.; Alana Santiago, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Rachel Whetstone, Katie Holler.

General Outlook: “The girls are coming in strong, with their eyes on returning to states,” Morris said. “They are being very intentional about training smart and staying healthy. The excitement is high right out of the gate.”

Runners: An already talented lineup, which includes three sets of siblings, gets even stronger this year with the additions of senior Brook McIntyre (from volleyball) and freshman Kasey Bolyard.

Senior Katie Lane is the standout on a team that is not short on talent.

Fellow seniors include Mia Gaetjens, Emma Smith, Ela Kara and McIntyre.

The junior class of runners includes Ari Tompkins, Emma Quillen and Julie Tompkins.

“Julie has been working very hard at physical therapy after a meniscus tear and subsequent surgery during basketball. She was recently given full clearance.”

Sophomores Karlee Snavely, Kai Gaetjens, Eden Cameron and Alana Santiago give the team depth, along with freshman Bolyard.


Head Coach: Ashley Williams, 10th year.

Coaching Staff: Emma Lunardi.

2022 Record: 6th in Metro Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (4): Clare Johnston, soph.; Gracie Stroh, soph.; Julia Stratton, jr.; Addison Ribelin, sr.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Paige Chinn, Reese Johnston.

General Outlook: “This season holds the promise of growth and team building,” Williams said. “With a blend of seasoned runners and freshmen, we’re up to accept challenges, achieve personal milestones and make every stride count.”

Runners: Julia Stratton and Addison Ribeline are the runners setting the pace for the Ravens.

“They display dedication and skill that fuel both individual and team motivation.”

Stratton was named Second Team All-Metro Athletic Conference last season.

Clare Johnston and Gracie Stroh have proven to be valuable runners, as well.

“They are runners that embody reliability and discipline that contribute to the cohesion of the group.”

Hannah Jones, Torrie Butner and Kaitlynn Artz are three freshmen that have stepped in and worked hard.

“They have shown impressive determination and potential for growth.”


Head Coach: Larry Bailey, 41st year.

Coaching Staff: Kyle Rodstrom.

2022 Record: 3rd in Portage Trail Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (4): Hannah Crandell, soph.; Mallory Butcher, sr.; Maggie Frick, sr.; Grace Hunt, sr.;

Letterwinners Lost (3): Sydney Munger, Lauren Krieger, Courtney Taylor.

General Outlook: “We will have a good team, but Mogadore is the defending league and regional champions, and they are a state power,” Bailey said.

Runners: The Rovers have depth.

Alongside their four returning letterwinners, Bailey Kidd, Ashley Reyes, Violet Pain, Allison Krieger, Dana Little, Kourtney Gierke, Caitlyn Hays and Kelsey Bittecuffer all will be contributors.


Head Coach: Julia Dillon, 7th year.

Coaching Staff: Monica Kiskadden, Kelli Simmons, Kate Campbell.

2022 Record: 2nd in Portage Trail Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (6): Tonja Bradley, sr.; Kristen Campbell, jr.; Claire Dillner, jr.; Julia Frick, jr.; Penelopei Sutliff, soph.; Julia Wheeler, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (5): Kate Campbell, Remie Stammitti, Payten Vrudney, Rebekah Craver, Gracie Fizet.

General Outlook: “We are very excited for the season,” Dillon said. “We have differentiated our workouts to make sure that we meet our runners on their individual levels. We have a lot of talent on this team, with only one senior, and we are working to compete back at the regional level.”

The lineup, however, has already been plagued by some early injuries to key runners.

Runners: Tonja Bradley is the line senior for the Pirates.

“She is dedicated and hard working, as she manages cross country, soccer and band. She brings positivity and resiliency to this team.”

Kristen Campbell is a “force out on the course,” according to Dillon.

“She is a true competitor and rises to any challenge.”

Campbell has been recovering the last two seasons from ACL injuries.

“Her comeback this season may be slow, but we know that she will give it her all, because she knows no other way.”

Jenna Canale joins the group as a freshman and was the champion of the PTC middle-school meet, then broke the school’s record in the 800 meters during the track season.

“She is a true athlete from her work ethic to her tenacity.”

However, Canale is currently sidelined with a spinal injury.

Claire Dillner had what Dillon described as a “breakout season” last year. She went from running in the high 20’s to breaking 23 minutes.

“She has become an integral part of the team, as she started stepping into the No. 5 position and helping our score. We look for her to step up again this season.”

Julia Frick spent her summer increasing her training.

“We think she can have a breakout season. We think we will see incredible times and performances. She has the heart and the drive to be a top competitor.”

Madalynn Lane is a new face to cross country, but not to running as she competed in track last year as a freshman.

“She pushes herself at practice and does the extra hill or lap even when she wants to quit. This shows grit and determination. We are excited to see how she performs.”

Destiny Longgood, a freshman, will split time between cross country and soccer.

“She has great potential and is just in need of lots of training and miles.”

Sydney Schoenbaechler is a freshman at Bio-Med, but has run the past two seasons.

“She is in need of training and miles, but I think this will be a great year for her to gain experience.”

Penelopei Sutliff returns after a solid freshman season.

“She started strong before developing plantar fasciitis. We hope to see her step back into the role she had begun to carve out for herself. She could be an integral part of our top five.”

Julia Wheeler was the “pivotal point of our team last season, allowing us to build a winning mentality,” according to Dillon.

“She is dedicated to one thing all year long and that is running. Her work ethic and drive are the essential pieces of her continuing to improve. She has worked incredibly hard all summer, running seven days a week with a very specific regiment. We think this season will surpass her previous season and prove that her winning mentality will get her to state.”


Head Coach: Jon Hannan, 3rd year.

Coaching Staff: Angela Novotny, Larry Hoffman.

2022 Record: 5th in Metro Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (7): Cara Tiller, sr.; Kenzie LaGuardia, jr.; Grace Thomson, jr.; Claire Campbell, soph.; Madi Campbell, soph.; Sonia Downing, soph.; Kendall Epple, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (3): Jordyn Lyle, Sofia Maglionico, Rayna Rippey.

General Outlook: “We return our entire top seven, which is very exciting,” Hannan said. “The team is very large and very young, with our top three from last season all being freshmen.

“Overall, we should finish near the middle of the pack in a very strong MAC.”

Runners: Regional qualifiers Sonia Downing, Kendall Epple and Madi Campbell highlight the lineup.

Cara Tiller is a team captain and three-year letter winner, who has bounced back from many injuries.

Kenzie LaGuardia, Grace Thomson and Claire Campbell are all quality runners, with promising newcomers including sophomores Bri Hushion and Sydney Sullivan and freshmen Diana Rivera-Collazo and Kaelyn Malloy.

Another newcomer will be senior Samyra Smith.


Head Coach: Steve McDaniel, 35th year.

Coaching Staff: None.

2022 Record: Not enough runners to compete.

Returning Letterwinners (3): Cheyanne Biltz, Allison Miller, Tess Rodenbucher.

General Outlook: “Our goals for the season are to PR every meet and hopefully PR at district,” McDaniel said.

Runners: Along with the team’s three returning letterwinners, the Vikings’ lineup will include sophomore Helyn Willis.

Biltz was named Honorable Mention in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference last season.

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