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Loaded Lady Red Devils aim for another great season

August 26, 2014
By John Hartsock (jhartsock@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

Year after year, it's been a matter of reloading, rather than rebuilding, for the Central Cambria High School girls cross country program.

Last season's perfect 12-0 dual-meet season ran Randy Wilson's career record to a sparkling 160-3 in his 15 seasons as coach of the Central Cambria girls program.

Wilson's squad, led by Samantha Koss, who placed 15th at the PIAA meet last season, also won the District 6 Class A team championship and finished third in the PIAA Class A state team race last year.

Article Photos

Mirror file photo
Penn Cambria’s Arlee Simendinger finished ninth at the PIAA meet last season.

With most of that team returning this fall, the outlook again looks bright for Central Cambria.

"We brought back most of our team from last year, and we've added some new talent,'' Wilson said. "We have more depth than we've had over the past years.''

All of which spells trouble for Central Cambria's opponents in both District 6 and the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, where Central Cambria is the defending conference champion.

Also in the LHAC, Penn Cambria senior Arlee Simendinger returns after placing ninth at the PIAA meet last season.

Led by junior Ali Conrad, Altoona returns a promising nucleus as well for the 2014 season. Conrad was a state tournament qualifier a year ago and leads a group of 14 returning runners for Altoona.

"We have awesome depth and untapped potential from our returning runners,'' veteran Altoona coach Tabitha Quinn said. "We are looking at a good mix of newcomers and experienced runners.''

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic coach Joe Bilka begins his 17th season with a mix of talented veteran and new runners that offer the team plenty of hope for improvement after last year's 1-9 finish in dual meets.

"This should be a year of strong improvement on our record and on our competitiveness,'' Bilka said.

First-year Hollidaysburg coach Travis Singer has the benefit of two returning PIAA state-tournament qualifiers leading his team in junior Makenzie Wilson and sophomore Bridget Perry.

"Their work ethic and leadership have helped to shape the personality of the team,'' Singer said.

Julie Roseborough believes that she has a very hard-working and competitive team as she approaches her 22nd season as Bellwood-Antis' coach. Bellwood boasts a solid nucleus of six returning letterwinners - seniors Anna Wolfe, Meghan Claar, Hannah Cherry, and Lexie Cruciel, junior Elizabeth Whaley, and sophomores Stephanie Mills and Addison Clemente.

Central lacks numbers, but head coach Ray Brooks is hopeful that the Lady Dragons will be able to field a full team of at least five runners at some point in the season. Central had only two runners, junior Shannon Weaver and freshman Lauren Dangal, on its preseason roster before the start of the school year.

Kristen England faces the same lack of numbers problem as she starts her third season as coach of the Williamsburg High School program. England doesn't have enough runners to field a full team. At press time, the only girls runner out for the squad was incoming freshman Abbie Wheland.

John Kuskoski also starts his 22nd season as coach at Cambria Heights, with three returning letterwinners - senior Emily Sopata, junior Harley Nelen, and sophomore Alexis Niebauer - leading the Lady Highlanders.

Bedford coach Michele Fisher has a solid returning corps of runners led by seniors Lauren Diehl and Grace Amato, and junior Emilee Fierro, while Penn Cambria coach Todd Niebauer's team is led by a promising nucleus of experienced senior veterans.

Jeremiah Grosser begins his second season as coach at Bishop Carroll with just two runners, returnee Jacqueline Little and first-year runner Maggie Blaisdell, on his roster, but the coach admires the work ethic and determination of the two athletes that will represent Carroll this fall.

First-year Northern Cambria coach Kevin Staruch said that he is working with a small but dedicated group of runners, and Philipsburg-Osceola coach Heather Sagaities welcomes a diligent group of runners back for her second season at the helm of the team.

Altoona

Coach: Tabitha Quinn, 18th season

Career record: 77-46

League: None

Last year's record: 2-4

Returning starters: Seniors-Zoe Delozier, Hannah Jacobs, Julia Paule, Ellie Sohmer, Casidy Weyandt. Juniors-Ali Conrad, Brittany Good, Shaeyln Imler, Katerina Parowski, Alex Reade. Sophomores-Alessandra Fama, Rylee Hatch, Kierra Hoffman, Myranda Oswalt

Newcomers: Seniors-Sierra Hillard. Juniors-Sarah Wakmonski. Sophomores-Rhiannon Stangl. Freshmen-Coby Bernhart-Horton, Molly Kibler, Amber Knott, Karlee Noel, Kayla Rosas

Strengths: "We have awesome depth and untapped potential from our returning runners. Ali Conrad was a state qualifier last year. She had a solid summer and is training well with Ellie Sohmer, along with the other top returning runners. We are looking at a good mix of newcomers and experienced runners who will be no surprise for our top 10.''

Concerns: "It is important for the girls who have had preseason injuries to be patient in their return. The newcomers are eager and energetic. They will need to learn to be tolerant in transitioning from each course and racing field.''

Overall outlook: "Despite the newcomers' inexperience, the girls will be a driving force for each other. Our racing schedule promotes both the veteran and newcomer runners' valauble experience that will hone their racing strategies to make it to the next level.''

Assistant coaches: Ashley Oswalt, Jason Smith

Bedford

Coach: Michele Fisher, eighth season

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Last year's record: 9-11 overall, 3-8 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Grace Amato, Lauren Diehl, Lauren Weaver. Juniors-Emilee Fierro. Sophomores-Ashley Enderle, Mattea Harrison

Newcomers: Juniors-Kirsten Replogle, Keira Wyles. Freshmen-Allison Pittman

Strengths: "The girls have experience. Leading the team will be senior Lauren Diehl, who had a solid track and field season, senior Grace Amato, who has shown solid improvement after summer conditioning, and junior Emilee Fierro, who has looked solid in the preseason. Freshman Allison Pittman joins the team after finishing an impressive junior high track season.''

Overall outlook: "The goal for the girls is to improve on their team standing in District 6 and to qualify individuals for the state meet.''

Assistant coach: Jeff Hamilton, Matt Kline

Bellwood-Antis

Coach: Julie Roseborough, 22nd season

Career record: 132-104

League: Inter-County Conference

Last year's record: 6-5

Returning letterwinners: Seniors-Hannah Cherry, Meghan Claar, Lexie Cruciel, Anna Wolfe. Juniors-Elizabeth Whaley. Sophomores-Addison Clemente, Stephanie Mills

Newcomers: Juniors-Sierra Stevens. Sophomores-Sarah Knisely, Haley McCloskey

Strengths: "The girls are working hard and improving.''

Concerns: "We need time to develop.''

Overall outlook: "We should be competitive.''

Assistant coaches: Chris Brown, Rhonda Mills

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Jeremiah Grosser, second season

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Jacqueline Little

Newcomers: Maggie Blaisdell

Strengths: "The runners have an exceptional work ethic that will help them develop into great runners over the next few years."

Concerns: "Compared with our area teams, we lack both numbers and experience.''

Overall outlook: "We are looking for personal bests and for the overall development of our runners.''

Junior high coaches: Michelle Wetzel

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic

Coach: Joe Bilka, 17th season

League: Laurel Highlands Conference

Last year's record: 1-9

Returning starters: Seniors-Clarisse Spencer. Sophomores-Carley Ciampoli, Kelsey Donoughe. Freshmen-Aleah Berkheimer

Strengths: "We have a nice mix of experienced runners and some strong young runners. We look forward to improving on last season's record.''

Concerns: "It will be important to stay healthy and injury-free.''

Overall outlook: "This should be a year of strong improvement on our record and on our competitiveness.''

Assistant coach: Vicki Bilka

Cambria Heights

Coach: John Kuskoski, 22nd season

Career record: 139-134

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Last year's record: 15-4 overall, 7-3 in the conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Emily Sopata. Juniors-Harley Nelen. Sophomores-Alexis Niebauer

Other returnees: Juniors-Elizabeth Hoover, Kalie Hoover, Kara Miller, Julia Pritchard. Sophomores-Katie Hoover

Newcomers: Seniors-Melissa Price. Sophomores-Abby Allenbaugh, Tori Boland. Freshmen-Hunter Niebauer

Strengths: "Coachability, roster number (12), desire that often comes with a team that leans on the young side rather than the experienced side.''

Concerns: "We need to compete at a high, intense level, but never lose sight of the fun side of our sport.''

Overall outlook: "This team should improve on last season's record and ranking.''

Assistant coaches: Kathryn Kuskoski, Deborah Link, Shannon Link

Central Cambria

Coach: Randy Wilson, 15th season

Career record: 160-3

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Last year's record: 12-0

Returning starters: Seniors-Jordan Hayward, Cienna Lauer. Juniors-Kiley Anderson, Jackie Bracken, Seria Neumann, Hannah Swope. Sophomores-Cassie Gabrielson, Sydney Gilkey, Samantha Koss, Kaitlyn McKeel, Julia Schaffer, Emma Wess, Jessie Woods

Newcomers: Junior-Rachel Genesi. Sophomore-Sydney Croft. Freshmen-Allison Bainey, Carly Kaschalk.

Strengths: "We brought back most of our team from last year, and we have added some new talent. We have more depth than we've had over the past two years.''

Concerns: "Handling the pressure of running with a target on your back during every dual meet is always a concern.''

Overall outlook: "With the tough competition that we face in the LHAC in addition to attending some competitive invites, we hope to be competitive at the conference, district and state levels.''

Assistant coaches: Timm Miller, Tammy Nagel

Hollidaysburg

Coach: Travis Singer, first season

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning letterwinners: Juniors-Emily Baranik, Ceara Lance, Hannah Shank, Makenzie Wilkinson. Sophomores-Bridget Perry

Other returnees: Seniors-Emily Haupt, Sandra Johnson, Sierra Paul, Alexis Robbins. Juniors-Alexis Farrell, Colleen Murphy

Newcomers: Sophomores-Megan Gilles, Bailey Pfeffer. Freshmen-Rachel Dull, Jessica Hayes

Strengths: "We have two strong front-runners returning in Makenzie Wilkinson and Bridget Perry, who both have a trip to Hershey under their belts. Their work ethic and leadership have helped to shape the personality of the team.''

Concerns: "We have good experience returning to our varsity squad, but we need to develop the depth that we will need to consistently compete with the best area teams.''

Overall outlook: "We will have strong competition throughout the season as we enter the Laurel Highlands Conference. The coaches believe that the girls have put in the work to compete with the top teams in the league and in the district.''

Assistant coaches: Bill Bravin, Geordie Edmiston, Cassie Preston, Deb Solomon

Northern Cambria

Coach: Kevin Staruch, first season

Career record: 0-0

League: Heritage Conference

Last year's record: 2-3

Returning starters: Seniors-Adriana Frontino, Kaitlynne Jones

Newcomers: Seniors-Laken Lapso. Juniors-Lakin Birchall, Taylor Strong. Freshmen-Allison Nealen

Strengths: "The team members have shown dedication to the sport, and to their own success in the sport. I believe their willingness to outwork each other will contribute to a successful season.''

Concerns: "Due to our small team, keeping everybody injury-free and healthy is my biggest concern.''

Overall outlook: "We should be competitive this year. Our group of runners have been working hard throughout the summer, and they show a lot of dedication.''

Penn Cambria

Coach: Todd Niebauer, eighth season

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Last year's record: 12-2 overall and in the league

Returning starters: Seniors-Monica Lee, Carly Osmolinski, Arlee Simendinger. Juniors-Shelly Pompa

Newcomers: Juniors-Kimber Berezansky. Sophomores-Bri Berezansky, Nikki Weakland. Freshmen-Alex Arnold, Olivia Sawinski, Melanie Stasik

Strengths: "This team has great senior leadership, and some veterans at the beginning of our lineup.''

Concerns: "Our number five through 10 runners lack experience.''

Overall outlook: "We have a very mixed bag when it comes to experience. We will have to work extremely hard and improve a lot as a team to get to where I think we can be. The girls are all great kids, and they all seem willing to work.''

Assistant coaches: Lois Smith, Kristen Talko

Philipsburg-Osceola

Coach: Heather Sagaities, second season

Career record: 6-7

League: Mountain League

Last year's record: 6-7 overall, 2-4 in the Mountain League

Returning starters: Seniors-Mandy Schmidt. Juniors-Kylie Whitehead. Sophomores-Emma Riglin, Alyssa Smart

Newcomers: Juniors-Sarah Bainey. Freshmen-Kristen Bennett, Kyra James

Strengths: "We have a hard-working team that is excited about this season and is looking to constantly improve.''

Concerns: "Some newer runners could really benefit our team, but they will need to gain race experience and learn their own personal ability.''

Overall outlook: "We have gained experience since last year, so we are looking to improve our record as well as see individual improvements as the season progresses.''

Assistant coaches: Kelly Dobo, Rob Thompson

 
 

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