Run of success: CC tries to continue reign with youth

Just as we expect to see the leaves changing colors and the grass getting brown as the kids go back to school, we also expect to see the Central Cambria girls cross country team posting another dominant season.

The Lady Red Devils went undefeated again, going 10-0, and won their seventh straight District 6 title last year, edging out Penn Cambria by 13 points.

If they’re to turn in another banner season, though, the Lady Devils will have to do without the graduated PIAA silver medalist and four-time placer Alyssa Brandis and with a very young team.

They do have three Altoona Mirror first-team all-stars and 2012 state qualifiers returning in sophomore Jackie Bracken and Hannah Swope and junior Jordan Hayward and 2011 state qualifier and senior Dawn Craft, but 13 of the girls on the roster are either sophomores or freshmen.

“We have the youngest team I’ve ever coached,” said CC coach Randy Wilson, who begins his 14th season with a 145-3 record. “However, they are a very tight-knit and energetic group of athletes.”

Central Cambria doesn’t have the area cross country landscape totally dominated, though. PC’s Arlee Simendinger, who earned a PIAA medal by finishing 20th, returns for her junior season, as do four of PC’s seven runners from the state-qualifying team.

Also returning are 2012 Mirror all-stars and state qualifiers Morgan Pensyl, a senior from Altoona, Emilee Fiero, a sophomore from Bedford, and Jordan Wiser, a sophomore from Tyrone.

Williamsburg will have one runner, senior Jennifer Adams, compete this year.

Below is a capsulized look at the teams that submitted information.


Coach: Tabitha Quinn, 17th season

Career record: 75-42

Last year’s record: 3-2

League: None

Returning starters: Seniors-Diana DeBernardis, Brianna Geist, Morgan Pensyl. Juniors-Zoe Delozier, Hannah Jacobs, Ellie Sohmer. Sophomores-Mikayla Detwiler, Shaelyn Imler, Audrey Love, Alex Reade.

Newcomers: Seniors-Courtney Chamberlain, Brianna Dalto, Alyssa Palfey. Juniors-Katerina Parowski, Julia Paule, Casidy Weyandt. Sophomores-Alexander Conrad, Brittany Good. Freshmen-Alessandra Fama, Rylee Hatch, Kierra Hoffman, Myranda Oswalt.

Strengths: “They had a better preseason in their endurance base and strength training/conditioning. Morgan Pensyl was a state qualifier last year, and she is a driving force behind the team in working with our top returning runners: Ellie Sohmer, Diana DeBernardis and Bri Geist. Also, we are excited to have our newcomers, who demonstrate great workmanship and motivation.”

Concerns: “It is important for the girls to grasp onto running as a closer pack in responding to larger racing fields. The girls overall are becoming experienced and must be able to safeguard injury prevention and good health.”

Overall outlook: “The returning girls have such a solid experience from last season, and coupled with the newcomers, they will truly add to the team’s progress. Although the girls will be racing against some of the best runners in the state in the early part of the schedule, they need the experience and the challenges to make it to the state level.”

Assistant coach: Joe Sohmer


Coach: Michele Fisher, seventh season

Career record: 39-47

Last year’s record: 9-8

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Alison Caddy, Lauren Ickes. Juniors-Grace Amato, Lauren Diehl. Sophomores-Emilee Fierro, Lauren Weaver.

Newcomers: Freshmen-Ashley Enderle, Mattea Harrison.

Strengths: “State qualifier Emilee Fierro returns this year. Alison Caddy won the Liberty Days Race and has worked really hard in the offseason to improve her strength and speed. Grace Amato, Lauren Diehl, Lauren Ickes and Lauren Weaver all return as team veterans.”

Concerns: “Depth is a concern.”

Overall outlook: “The team should be solid, and with hard work, should improve its standing in the LHAC.”

Assistant coaches: Matt Kline, Jeff Hamilton, Jason Tew, Brian Creps


Coach: Julie Roseborough, 21st season

Career record: 126-99

Last year’s record: 0-9

League: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Juniors-Hannah Cherry, Meghan Claar.

Newcomers: Senior-Ellen Crook. Junior-Alexa Crusciel. Sophomore-Elizabeth Whaley. Freshmen-Addison Clemente, Stephanie Mills.

Strengths: “The girls are working hard and improving. There is some excellent potential.”

Concerns: “We need time to develop.”

Overall outlook: “By midseason, we should have a solid team.”

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Jeremiah Grosser, second season

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Newcomers: Sophomore-Stephanie Biter. Freshmen-Harley Harasty, Jacqui Little.

Strengths: “Very hard working and dedicated group.”

Concerns: “A lot of new runners.”

Overall outlook: “Looking for development throughout the season.”

Bishop Guilfoyle

Coach: Joe Bilka, 15th season

Career record: 39-84

Last year’s record: 0-9

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Senior-Samantha Reinhardt. Junior-Clarisse Spencer.

Newcomers: Senior-Bridget Rea. Freshmen-Carly Ciampoli, Marissa Leonard, Caitlyn Lieb, Lauren Montecalvo.

Strengths: “Experience from our veteran runners and the desire on the part of all the new runners to succeed will make this a good season.”

Concerns: “Our new runners gaining race experience quickly and learning to be competitive.”

Overall outlook: “Exciting season with all of our new runners, and we’re anxious to get started.”

Assistant coach: Vicki Bilka

Cambria Heights

Coach: John Kuskoski, 21st season

Career record: 124-130

Last year’s record: 11-6

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Lindsay Link, Shannon Link, Marki Schaefer. Juniors-Cori James, Emily Sopata. Sophomore-Elle Cordell.

Other returnees: Seniors-Amber Koegler, Emily Lewis, Abbey McCan. Sophomores-Kara Miller, Harley Nelen, Julia Pritchard.

Newcomers: Senior-Cassidy Zemrose. Junior-Allison Lidwell. Sophomores-Hannah Burns, Elizabeth Hoover, Kalie Hoover. Freshmen-Katie Hoover, Alexis Niebauer.

Strengths: “Coachability, quantity [19 on roster] and quality [six of last year’s seven varsity runners].”

Concerns: “To be more competitive this year, but not lose sight of the fun side of our sport.”

Overall outlook: “We hope to climb a rung or two in our tough LHAC and in the equally tough District 6 Class A.

Assistant coaches: Kathy Kuskoski, Debbie Link, T.J. O’Hara


Coach: Ray Brooks, second season

Career record: 4-7

Last year’s record: 4-7

League: Mountain League

Returning starters: Seniors-Mackenzie Cherry, Natalie Woodard. Sophomore-Shannon Weaver.

Newcomers: Sophomores-Madeline Bartek, Kyra Larson, Lexi Weyant.

Strengths: “We have a good mix of young runners following strong leadership.”

Concerns: “My main concern is to make sure we all do our best and have a lot of fun along the way.”

Overall outlook: “Good.”

Central Cambria

Coach: Randy Wilson, 14th season

Career record: 145-3

Last year’s record: 10-0

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Dawn Craft, Laken McKeel. Juniors-Ali Evans, Jordan Hayward, Cienna Laurer. Sophomores-Jackie Bracken, Seria Neumann, Hannah Swope.

Newcomers: Sophomore-Kiley Anderson. Freshmen-Tia Bodenschatz, Cassie Gabrielson, Sydney Gilkey, Samantha Koss, Taylor Mazzarella, Kaitlyn McKell, Julia Schaffer, Emma Wess, Jessie Woods.

Strengths: “We have the youngest team I’ve ever coached. However, they are a very tight-knit and energetic group of athletes.”

Concerns: “Staying healthy is always a concern, but our main concern will be leadership.”

Overall outlook: “We want to be competitive at the conference and district level and hopefully gain experience at the state level.”

Assistant coaches: Tammy Nagel, Timm Miller, Annie Cekada


Coach: Lynette Luke, third season

Career record: 10-15

Last year’s record: 7-4

League: None

Returning starters: Senior-Claire Rosenberger. Juniors-Ashlyn Estep, Sandra Johnson, Elisabeth Seely. Sophomores-Emily Baranik, Ceara Lance, Colleen Murphy, Makenzie Wilkinson.

Newcomers: Seniors-Kiki Davis, Ginger Glass, Kiana Martinelli, Anna Springer. Juniors-Emily Haupt, Alexis Robbins. Sophomores-Haley Kenyon, Sophia Lemtouni, Marissa McCoy, Maddie McKiernan, Jessie Nagle, Sierra Paul, Hannah Shank. Freshmen-Maddie Furman, Bridget Perry.

Strengths: “We have a core group of returning runners who have made training as a team a priority. They look incredibly strong this year, running in small packs, which will help to keep our scores low. I am proud that our team is getting larger each year. It is a testament to our young recruiters.”

Concerns: “We lost eight seniors last year, two of which were state qualifiers during their time at HAHS. We have only one returning senior this year [Clair Rosenberger]. She has worked incredibly hard and will be a model for our younger runners to emulate.”

Overall outlook: “This is going to be a season these girls will remember. Their dedication to the team and each other is something a coach can only dream of.”

Assistant coaches: Deb Solomon, Geordie Edmiston, Bill Bravin

Penn Cambria

Coach: Todd Niebauer, seventh season

Last year’s record: 12-2

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors-Sara Clauto, Brandy Gibbons, Danielle Pompa. Junior-Carly Osmolinski, Arlee Simendinger. Sophomores-Shelly Pompa.

Newcomers: Seniors-Sarah Hurley, Alli Reese. Junior-Monica Lee.

Strengths: “Four of our top seven return from our PIAA sixth-place team, as does our first PIAA medalist in Arlee Simendinger. Some of the girls worked extremely hard over the summer.”

Concerns: “Depth and lack of experience in runners five through 10.”

Overall outlook: “We have a good core, but we need to improve greatly to become a team that will be noticed. With a strong few months, this could happen.”


Coach: Heather Sagaities, first season

Career record: 0-0

Last year’s record: 6-5

League: Mountain League

Returning starters: Senior-Taylor Guelich. Sophomores-Kylie Whitehead, Abigail Slogosky.

Newcomers: Junior-Mandy Schmidt. Freshmen-Emma Riglin, Alysa Smart.

Strengths: “Hard-working team that is excited about the season and looking to constantly improve.”

Concerns: “Fairly young team that will need to gain some race experience and confidence to do their personal best.”

Overall outlook: Looking to improve as season progresses.”

Assistant coaches: Kelly Dobo, Rob Thompson