Central Cambria boys hoping to continue their success

2018 area high school boys cross country preview

Mirror file photo Tyrone’s Zach Kohler returns for his senior season.

Central Cambria High School has had an elite girls cross country program over the last decade, but its boys program has been no slouch either.

The Red Devils won the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference meet and the District 6 Class 2A championship last season and appears to be in good shape to make a run at repeats in both for the 2018 season.

Central Cambria returns 2017 Mirror first-team all-stars Ohm Vyas, a senior, and juniors Isaac Haycisak and Nathan Kuntz, along with honorable mention picks Zach Brandis, a junior, and Ethan Shuagis, a sophomore.

Three other Mirror first-team all-star runners at the Class 2A level also return this year. Tyrone senior Zach Kohler finished seventh and third at districts the last two seasons and is the two-time Blair/Huntingdon meet champion.

Bedford returns sophomore Van May, the reigning District 5 2A champ, and senior Garret Cornell, who finished fourth in District 5.

At the Class 1A level, Northern Bedford has just six runners, but two of them are returning Mirror first-team all-stars. Sophomore Ian Zimmerman was the District 5 1A champ, and junior Ian Sherlock was the runner-up.

At the 3A level, Altoona welcomes back juniors Jace Green, Brayden Henninger and Aidan Rispoli, 2017 Mirror honorable mention picks, and Hollidaysburg boasts senior Trent Howe and sophomore Jeremy Jones.


Coach: Lee Baranik, 37th season

Career record: 222-39

Last year’s record: 4-3

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Seniors–Cooper D’Angelo. Juniors–Jace Green, Brayden Henninger, Aidan Rispoli

Other returners: Sophomores–Andrew Carini, Andy Donlan, Aiden Farabaugh, Jack Hatch, Nick Leberfinger, Aydan Summers

Newcomers: Juniors–Gary Hooper. Sophomores–Hunter Bonsell, Carson Ikner, Jason Miller. Freshmen–Mitchell Bianconi, George Boutiller, Gabe Ebersole, Braeden Ferguson, Aidan Kelley, Brendan Knott, Isaac Kratzer

Strengths: “We have many talented young runners who saw varsity action last season. We also have freshmen on the team who will make an immediate impact by running in varsity races. (Couple this) with our returning juniors and seniors, and we are cautiously optimistic at this point. Our schedule is one of the best in the state as it offers a look at many parts of Pennsylvania. So, our runners will receive lots of valuable experience as they keep an eye on the weekly meets and prepare for them.”

Concerns: “We have to make sure that our young runners believe in themselves because they have worked all summer. They cannot be intimidated by races where over 200 competitors may be running. Our whole team will need to rely on its training and its unity to make sure that we get the job done.”

Overall outlook: “We are anxious for the season to start. Many of the kids on our team want to have the type of year where they see many personal records set. We are also glad that we are back at (the) Logan Elementary (course) for home meets now that the construction is over. Our course is challenging, but fair. So, we are hoping that practices there will pay off in a big way. We will be hosting five meets at home and that makes everyone happy.”

Assistant coaches: Jim D’Angelo, Travis Etters, Todd Runk


Coach: Michele Fisher, 12th season

Career record: 99-72

Last year’s record: 5-5

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Larky (Cauy) Brakeall, Garret Cornell, Camden Donahoe, Michael Zubak. Sophomores–Devin Steele, Van May

Newcomers: Freshmen–Davis Crawley, Mason Evans, Eric Jordan, Gabriel Koontz, Nate Stritchfield, Evan Sigel

Strengths: “Van May returns after an impressive freshman season where he medaled at the Big Valley Invitational, won the Saint Francis Invitational, medaled at the PIAA Foundation Race and was the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference champion. Van, Garret Cornell and Larky (Cauy) Brakeall are all returning after qualifying for states last year. Michael Zubak looks strong after his summer conditioning as well. We also have a great group of freshmen boys who have moved up (to varsity). They’ve all been working consistently over the summer and should turn in some solid performance this season.”

Concerns: “The boys are young, but most have previous cross country experience and have set some specific goals regarding their placings at the conference meet and districts.”

Overall outlook: “I look for the boys to do well as they gain strength and more race experience. We are looking to place at the conference and district meet.”

Assistant coaches: Brian Creps, Jeff Hamilton, Rachel Morningstar, Tanner Williams

Junior high coaches: Tracie Koontz, Josh Rose


Coach: Julie Roseborough, 25th season

Career record: 157-120

Last year’s record: 7-3

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returners: Seniors–Daniel Kustaborder, Nick Padula, Zion Poe. Sophomores–Hunter Gregg, Kenny Robison, John Sloey

Newcomers: Seniors–Trevor Crusciel. Freshmen–Mike Killinger, Caedon Poe

Strengths: “Some of the members have run before.”

Concerns: “Our younger runners need to keep improving to give us some depth.”

Overall outlook: “We hope to have a good season.”

Assistant coaches: Jamey Rimmey, Rhona Mills

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Mike Motchenbaugh, second season

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returners: Juniors–Isaac Repko. Sophomores–Simon Kirsch, Ely Blaisdell. Freshmen–Luke Behe, Nick Smith, David Farabaugh

Newcomers: Freshmen–Anthony Motchenbaugh, Johnny Weiland

Strengths: “Each and every runner on this team is very talented, dedicated and personable in their own way, which makes every day of cross country a blast and keeps everyone engaged.”

Concerns: “Getting enough runners for each team and keeping them all healthy so we will be able to place and get scored at meets.”

Overall outlook: “The (overall) team hasn’t seen this many runners in a couple of years, and this makes for a much more positive attitude while competing throughout the season.”

Bishop Guilfoyle

Coach: Matt Manfred, first season

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Juniors–Coltin Cover, Fabian Matos-Machado. Sophomores–Dom Cacciotti

Newcomers: Seniors–Luke Ciampoli. Sophomores–Austin Williams

Strengths: “Having graduated only one runner from last season’s team, we are returning the core of last year’s team.”

Concerns: “With a small team, we will keep one eye on staying healthy.”

Overall outlook: “These young men can set a good team environment for the upcoming junior high runners, while pushing themselves to achieve strong goals. We are excited to start some quality workouts, and then racing, and then see where things go from there.”

Cambria Heights

Coach: John Kuskoski, 26th season

Career record: 155-203

Last year’s record: 4-12

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.

Returning starters: Seniors–Logan Hoover, Tyler Huber, Alan Vesnesky. Juniors–Gabe Sheridan

Newcomers: Sophomores–Travis Lute

Strengths: “This team has a ‘survivor’ mentality.”

Concerns: “Both our boys and girls teams have to stay durable, resilient and injury-free.”

Overall outlook: “In fairness to these young people, I’d like them to give considerations to goals, outlooks and expectations as the season unfolds. I do feel, however, that I train optimists.”

Assistant varsity coach: Kathyrn Kuskoski

Junior high coaches: John Kuskoski, Deborah Link


Coach: Lacey Ceschini, first season

Conference: Mountain League

Returners: Cayden Hazenstab, WT Davis, Zane Croft, Zeth Croft, Lane Kocher, Dylan Ceschini, Ethan Dilling, Dominic Minnoia, Chris Ritchey, Cayden Wright, Walker Eckenrode, Michael James

Strengths: “Team members are eager to race and are in the process of conditioning themselves to perform well beyond last year’s achievements.”

Overall outlook: “The team has been working through a new training program, which has already shown to improve performance and speed to endure the 3.1-mile races with the confidence of winners.”

Assistant coach: Jonathan Lewis

Central Cambria

Coach: Randy Wilson, 19th season

Career record: 177-24

Last year’s record: 11-0

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returners: Seniors–Duncan Lambie, Thomas Swope, Ohm Vyas. Juniors–Zach Brandis, Isaac Haycisak, Nathan Kuntz. Sophomores–Toby Cree, Brandon Dick, Tyler Gibson, Adam Lechleitner, Nathan Rozsi, Ethan Shuagis, Evan Thomas

Newcomers: Sophomores–Corey Roberts. Freshmen–Nate Emerson, Ben Grata, Robbie Lazer, Jack Soyka, Eli Wandle, Noah Wilson

Strengths: “Our numbers are the best we’ve ever had. We have great leaders and an entire team that is willing to work hard and support each other. This is a very mature team that truly enjoys each other’s company.”

Concerns: “Staying healthy is always a concern.”

Overall outlook: “We are hoping to repeat as LHAC and District 6 2A champs.”

Assistant coaches: Tammy Nagel, Tim Miller, Lisa Swope, Jeff Dick


Coach: Connor Hunter, first season

Last year’s record: First-year program

Roster: Seniors–Blaze McCusker, Jaden Tornatore. Juniors–Jackson Kitko, Daniel Rowles, Tristan Rutter, Richard Tressel. Sophomores–Seth Conaway, Garrett Hutton, Gary Keith, Brian Mann, Zach McGarvey, Thomas Roles, Samuel Yarger. Freshmen–Donald Dove, Brady Dreibelbis, Evan Duclo, Jacob Gallaher, Tyler Niebauer

Strengths: “We’re a new team with a lot of enthusiasm. We have some friendly, hard-working runners who are going into this season with optimism despite the fact that most have never run a 5K before.”

Concerns: “Since we’re a new team, we’ll need to adjust to things that are commonplace, like getting used to running in the cold or having two meets in one week. Everything is new to us.”

Overall outlook: “We have nowhere to go but up. Our motto is “overcome together,” and through this inaugural season for us, we’re just excited for what the future holds for our team. We have so much potential. I can’t wait to show our school and community just what these kids are made of.”

Assistant coach: Marci Mazenko


Coach: Travis Singer, fifth season

Career record: 13-27

Last year’s record: 5-3

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Seniors–Trent Howe, Izaac Wilkinson, Gage Paul. Juniors–Walt Wedel. Sophomores–Jeremy Jones

Other returners: Seniors–Trevor Morris. Juniors–Adam Elder, Daniel Evans, Gilad Evans. Sophomores–Adam Diflaviano, Ethan Hansen

Newcomers: Seniors–Evan Soisson, Luke Trumpbour. Freshmen–Brady Flynn, Mitchell Hemminger, Ben Love, Chris Love, Mason Lowey, Max Pohar, Shree Pericherla, Xavier Sibold, Nolen Tyndall

Strengths: “Hardest-working group we’ve seen in a long time. Top five or six runners are really pushing each other every day. Desire to succeed.”

Concerns: “Depth and injury avoidance.”

Overall outlook: “We are looking forward to seriously competing throughout our schedule.”

Assistant coaches: Cassie Kachur, Geordie Edmiston, Dave Berkheimer

Juniata Valley

Coach: Dolores Gahagan, 33rd season

Career record: 208-118-1

Last year’s record: 5-7

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Braden Dyreson, Jack Zurybida. Juniors–Austin Pheasant

Newcomers: Seniors–Lewis Porter. Juniors–Emmett Hardin. Sophomores–Ethan Kern

Strengths: “Our boys team has a few runners who have a few years of experience and they’ve been working very hard during the preseason. They are also providing nice leadership for our newer runners.”

Concerns: “Our biggest concern is low numbers and a lack of depth.”

Overall outlook: “We are excited to compete this year and hope to continue to be competitive within the ICC. We also look to finish well at the district meet.”

Northern Bedford

Coach: Wayne Sherlock, second season

Last year’s record: 11-8

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Juniors–Ian Sherlock. Sophomores–Justin Grine, Connor Laird, Ian Zimmerman

Newcomers: Freshmen–Kaiden O’Neal, Jay Reed

Strengths: “We gained a lot of experience last year and were successful as a team. We hope to continue improving. Individually, the boys worked hard over the summer and look to have a successful season.”

Concerns: “We have no seniors and only one junior. We have to remain healthy. Hopefully, after the start of the school year, we can add a couple runners to add depth to our team.”

Overall outlook: “We are still a young team that hopes to build on last year’s success. If we stay healthy and everyone improves from last year, we hope to challenge for the ICC and District 5 championships.”

Penn Cambria

Coach: Todd Niebauer, 12th season

Last year’s record: 7-5

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Zach Buck. Juniors–Wyatt Pettenatti, Josh Lee. Sophomores–Logan Michina, Noah Lee, Reed Niebauer

Other returners: Seniors–Paul Mullen, Josh Krise, Chase Proudfit. Sophomores–Bryce Proudfit, Zach Smithmyer, Elijah Livai

Newcomers: Juniors–Seth Hogue. Freshmen–Trey Talko, Brandt Patterson, Salvatore Tiracave, Noah Noel, Donavan Cornell, Josh Platt

Strengths: “We have a core of talented runners returning who have been around the sport and know what to expect and how hard they need to work to succeed.”

Concerns: “The need to stay healthy in such an intense grind is paramount to our success.”

Overall outlook: “If we continue to work and stay together as a team, we will be very competitive in the Laurel Highlands.”

Assistant coaches: Kristen Talko, Lois Smith

Junior high coaches: Todd Niebauer, Kristen Talko, Lois Smith


Coach: Jason McKenzie, third season

Career record: 9-13

Last year’s record: 3-7

Conference: Mountain League

Returning starters: Seniors–Matthew Shimmel. Juniors–Cole Hoover, Ronnie Pinto, Josh Rea

Other returners: Seniors–Zach Thomas. Juniors–Mat Thomas

Newcomers: Juniors–Hunter Martin. Freshmen–Scotty Frantz, Dakota Laskowsky

Strengths: “The two biggest strengths for both the boys and girls teams are their team spirit and experience. We have a lot of 11th graders who have been running cross country and track together for a few years now, and they’ve really come together. They’ll support each other and cheer each other in to the finish, even in practices. There’s a lot of difference between running and racing, and a lot of these kids have learned how to race now.”

Concerns: “One concern that we always have is our conference. The Mountain League has a lot of quality teams — there are no easy meets for us. That kind of competition is nice, though. Our kids look forward to the challenges that our conference schedule presents.”

Overall outlook: “My main goal is that these kids learn to love running. If we can create life-long runners out of these kids, that will be a success.”

Assistant coaches: Renee Lanager, Andy Rea


Coach: Lance Hudak, fourth season

Conference: Independent/WestPAC

Returning starters: Sophomores–Lane Macy

Newcomers: Juniors–Nathan Shaffer, Tyler Spaid

Strengths: “Enthusiastic, coachable athletes.”

Concerns: “Injuries and balancing the rigors of both cross country and football this fall for all three runners. Finding a few more athletes to sign up for cross country, so we are able to compete as a team.”

Overall outlook: “With only three individuals out for cross country, we will not be able to score as a team this season. Lane, Taylor and Nathan are committed runners who will be running cross country along with playing football. Lane returns after a solid freshman season, and Tyler and Nathan will be running the 5,000-meter distance for the first time. We expect them to improve throughout the season and be running their best come districts.”

Assistant coaches: Amy Burkett, Becky Chobany

Junior high coaches: Lance Hudak, Amy Burkett, Becky Chobany


Coach: Tammy Wills, 18th season

Last year’s record: 6-2

Conference: Mountain League

Returners: Seniors–Zach Kohler, Mike Negal. Juniors–Matthew Savino, Nick Light. Sophomores–Ian Imler, Garin Hoy, Jay Rice, Andrew Savino

Newcomers: Sophomores–Blaine Hoover. Freshmen–Adam Detwiler, Nathan Yon, Aston Sipes

Strengths: “Talent, depth and work ethic.”

Overall outlook: “Looking forward to an exciting and successful season.”

Assistant coach: Randy Wilson


Coach: Matt Hoover, fourth season

Career record: 2-20

Last year’s record: 0-8

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Heath Moore, Chandler Edwards, Noah Fagnano

Newcomers: Seniors–Noah Webb. Juniors–Adam Uplinger. Freshmen–Lambert Palmer, Drew Palmer

Strengths: “Experience returning, good numbers.”

Concerns: “Injuries.”

Overall outlook: “We have a strong core of returning runners with experience to help lead the development of the younger athletes. We are looking to set new personal bests each race.”

Assistant coach: April Wheland