Cupboard’s not bare at Central Cambria

High school girls cross country preview

09/13/17 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Quinn McElhenny of Cambria Heights.

The Central Cambria High School girls cross country team has maintained its area success for many years.

This season should be no different with the Lady Devils returning three 2017 Mirror first-team all-stars in senior Kacy McKeel and sophomores Anna Dill and Ella Vrabel.

The Lady Devils also have senior Paige Wess listed as a newcomer on their roster, but she’s also a former Mirror first-team all-star who didn’t compete last year.

McKeel, Dill and Vrabel all finished in the top 10 individually in the District 6 Class 2A race last year. The Lady Devils also welcome nine freshmen to the team.

In District 5 Class 2A, Bedford returns junior Claudia Sigel, a Mirror honorable mention pick last year, and senior Leah Davidson.

Several Mirror all-stars are back in Class 1A — Cambria Heights senior Quinn McElhenny and sophomore Maggie McMullen, Bellwood-Antis senior Jenna Bartlett and Northern Bedford sophomore Denae Hershberger, the reigning District 5 1A champ.

Mirror honorable mention picks returning in 1A include Juniata Valley junior Lexie Reed, Bishop Carroll senior Sam Rosenberger and Williamsburg sophomore Aliyah Ross.

Two-time Mirror first-team all-star Sierra McClain, a senior, will lead Hollidaysburg in Class 3A. Top returners for Altoona include seniors Regan Baker and Aly Schobel, and junior Riley Boutiller.


Coach: Tabitha Quinn, 22nd season

Career record: 97-57

Last year’s record: 5-2

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Seniors–Regan Baker, Alauna Feathers, Maddie George, Emily Henry, Aly Schobel. Juniors–Riley Boutiller, Julz Kratzer, Gianna Marasco, Jayla Reilly, Emily Rentz, Kylee Wisor. Sophomores–Morgan Baker, Karenna Kauffman, Jenahvi Nedimyer, Raina Plutko, Rylie Whitaker. Freshmen–Mackenzie Kelley, Avery Reid

Strengths: “Four of the returning runners are varsity runners whose experience will help them with their drive to improve their times. They are accepting of the challenges and have been working to bring in closer the top 10.”

Concerns: “We have some gaps to fill as three of our top varsity runners graduated; yet, we have seen improvements from Aly Schobel, Morgan Baker, Riley Boutiller, and Regan Baker. It is important for the girls to take the experience that they have to race as a closer pack. They are eager for the larger racing field; yet, the girls will need to work on their grouping and pacing. Also, we have a few minor injuries that have sidelined some of the girl from their summer training. They will need to be patient on their return to racing.”

Overall outlook: “The team has the ability to use the depth that we have been building with our freshmen runners. The team certainly does have untapped potential and poise. They will certainly need to continue to stay healthy, motivated, and know the challenges ahead. The team is looking forward to racing on its home course after a tough travel season last fall. The girls’ strength and speed will only get better with each practice and race.”

Assistant coaches: Debra Kissell, Carly Meholic


Coach: Michele Fisher, 12th season

Career record: 76-88

Last year’s record: 4-5

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Leah Davidson. Juniors–Rachael Feaster, Ashley Ferguson, Claudia Sigel

Newcomers: Freshmen–Jessica Dibert, Natalie Lippencott, Riley Ruffey

Strengths: “We have two returning LHAC medalists, Leah Davidson and Claudia Sigel, as well as returning letterwinner Ashley Feguson, who is coming off a great track season. Our three freshmen, Jessica Dibert, Natalie Lippencott and Riley Ruffey, all have junior high experience and look very strong after their summer conditioning.”

Concerns: “The team lacks depth, so keeping everybody healthy will be critical.”

Overall outlook: “The girls have been running very well, so, barring any injuries, they should do well at the end of the season.”

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

Junior high coaches: Tracie Koontz, Josh Rose


Coach: Julie Roseborough, 25th season

Career record: 154-123

Last year’s record: 5-5

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returners: Seniors–Jenna Bartlett, Anna Sloey. Juniors–Olivia Caporuscio, Adisyn Gilbert, Thalia Luio, Ashley Yohn, Joyce Zheng. Sophomores–Alexis Noel

Newcomers: Seniors–Shayla Graham. Juniors–Cynthia Baldwin

Strengths: “Everyone is working hard. Several girls put in work this summer.”

Concerns: “We need time for some of the younger girls to improve.”

Overall outlook: “We expect to get better during the season.”

Assistant coaches: Jamey Rimmey, Rhonda Mills

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Mike Motchenbaugh, second season

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returners: Seniors–Sam Rosenberger, Sarah Farabaugh, Eve Little

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–Olivia Butler

Newcomers: Freshmen–Meghan Norris, Jaden Quinn

Strengths: “The small squad of young women we have are motivated and excited. They are ready to build upon what they learned from retired coach Joe Bilka, and to continue to improve and challenge themselves to get better. These young women are a great example for the growing junior high team to follow.”

Concerns: “(Because of lack of numbers), we do not yet have a scoring team. The athletes that we have are deserving of seeing a team score for their efforts.”

Overall outlook: “For a small team, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of young women to work with. They are hard-working and ready. The team attitude, across the board, is outstanding, and that is a great indicator of the good things to come. This year, we are being patient and putting ourselves into position for future success.”

Cambria Heights

Coach: John Kuskoski, 26th season

Career record: 197-154

Last year’s record: 13-6

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Nat Kopera, Quinn McElhenny. Juniors–Paige McMullen, Elizabeth Sopata. Sophomores–Maggie McMullen, Beth White

Newcomers: Sophomores–Lydia Bezilla. Freshmen–Maddie Coover

Strengths: “The girls are experienced runners with an ‘all in’ attitude.”

Concerns: “Both the girls and boys 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 outlooks, goals 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: Dana Heltzel, Samantha Grove, Lauren Crilly, Kelly Keith, Jocelyn Ramsey

Newcomers: Maia Jeffries

Strengths: “Under new guidance, the team has a fresh training regimen, and each member is gaining strength daily to achieve team and individual goals.”

Concerns: “The female team is small but mighty for this season. With their upcoming successes, we hope to draw in more interest with future female runners.”

Overall outlook: “The individual members are dedicating themselves to improving with each training session and are entering the season with a fresh perspective and desire to succeed.”

Assistant coach: Jonathan Lewis

Central Cambria

Coach: Randy Wilson, 19th season

Career record: 203-3

Last year’s record: 11-0

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returners: Seniors–Reagan Hajjar, Kacy McKeel, Campbell Moss. Juniors–Julienne Casper, Christina Hildebrand. Sophomores–Anna Dill, Ella Vrabel

Newcomers: Seniors–Grace Gerlach, Paige Wess. Sophomores–Jenna Smith. Freshmen–Ella Anderson, Rebecca Cree, Karlee Heeney, Laura Heinzeroth, Stella Kuntz, Tessa Novotny, Marlo Soyka, Abigail Walwro, Faith Wilson

Strengths: “We have our largest team ever. The team has mature leaders who lead by example and bring out the best in their teammates. The girls’ positive attitude about the upcoming season is a huge strength. They are looking forward to competing with confidence and supporting each other.”

Concerns: “Staying healthy is my only concern, which is the biggest concern when coaching distance runners.”

Overall outlook: “To have fun and see what the season brings. There is zero pressure this year, and we are excited to see what this team can achieve.”

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


Coach: Connor Hunter, first season

Last year’s record: First-year program

Roster: Seniors–Jamie Wolfe. Juniors–Abby Cherry, Nicole Conrad, Taylor Duclo. Sophomores–Ally Gondek, Paige Glasgow, Taralynn Stewart-Jenkins, Winter Storm, Kailey Switzer, Lilley Vereshack. Freshmen–Carlie Cann, Haylee Edgar, Alayna Nearhood, Deanna Weld, Bailee Wimberly

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: 21-19

Last year’s record: 2-6

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Seniors–Sierra McClain, Maria Murphy, Erica Wilkie. Sophomores–Aggie Hoover

Other returners: Juniors–Lily Evans, Rachel Ross. Sophomores–Elaina Fisher, Ashley Heimer

Newcomers: Juniors–Maggie Greenland, Meghan Hansen. Freshmen–Celina McIntire

Strengths: “Great attitude. Returning girls have already shown improvement.”

Concerns: “We graduated a large and great group of senior leaders last year. Smaller numbers this year means we will have to be careful with injuries.”

Overall outlook: “We have a great opportunity to work with some young, developing runners this year. Steady gains will be what we are looking for.”

Assistant coaches: Cassie Kachur, Geordie Edmiston, Dave Berkheimer

Juniata Valley

Coach: Dolores Gahagan, 33rd season

Career record: 208-118-1

Last year’s record: 12-0

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Melanie Raifsnyder, Carly Rudy, Claudia Sheetz. Juniors–Kathyrn Hopsicker, Kaleigh Johnson, Lexie Reed. Sophomores–Alexandra Dyreson, Katie Raifsnyder

Newcomers: Juniors–Bridget Simpson, Lily Yoder. Sophomores–Ella McGargle, Maelyn Payne. Freshmen–Morgan Hess, Anna Kuntz, Reese Zurybida

Strengths: “We have great numbers for our girls program this year, with many returnees and several newcomers. Our returning runners are coming off a successful last season and are providing leadership to help our team be competitive again this year. Our new runners are talented and will be contributing greatly to our scoring. We also have a full girls junior high team, which indicates a bright future for our program.”

Concerns: “We have a lack of experience with our new runners and we hope to keep everyone healthy.”

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

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Junior–Denae Hershberger

Strengths: “Denae had a very good season last year in her first year of running. She works hard and has high expectations for herself.”

Concerns: “Obviously, numbers. Denae battled injuries during track season. Hopefully, those are behind her now.”

Overall outlook: “Denae hopes to match her success in the ICC, repeat as District 5 champion and improve on her finish at states.”

Penn Cambria

Coach: Todd Niebauer, 12th season

Last year’s record: 4-7

Conference: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Seniors–Ashley Weakland, Dani Capraun. Sophomores–Sydney Dignan, McKenzie Watt

Other returners: Juniors–Alayna Gil. Sophomores–Collette Costlow, McKennah Proudfit

Newcomers: Juniors–Caitlyn Detrick. Sophomores–Devlin Glenn

Strengths: “We have a very hard-working group who is willing to work.”

Concerns: “Numbers and injuries.”

Overall outlook: “We can be competitive if we continue to grow and work together.”

Assistant coaches: Kristen Talko, Lois Smith

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


Coach: Jason McKenzie, third season

Career record: 7-14

Last year’s record: 3-7

Conference: Mountain League

Returning starters: Juniors–Samantha Bainey, Megan Kosut, Hannah Wildman. Sophomores–Natalie Shaw

Other returners: Juniors–Rachel Burger, Alysa Buterworth, Brittne Williams.

Newcomers: Sophomores–Katie Trentham. Freshmen–Audrey Smith

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: Seniors–Lauren Hudak

Newcomers: Sophomores–Lindsey Sease. Freshmen–Julia Papcun, Lauren Shaffer

Strengths: “Dedicated, hard-working athletes who are driven to become stronger runners both physically and mentally.”

Concerns: “Injuries. Finding another athlete or two to come out for cross country, so we are able to compete as a team.”

Overall outlook: “With only four individuals competing this fall, we will not be able to score as a team. An experienced Lauren Hudak returns for her fourth year of varsity competition along with a very talented trio of newcomers in sophomore Lindsey Sease and freshmen Julia Papcun and Lauren Shaffer. We expect each of them to improve throughout the season and be running their best times in late October.”

Assistant coaches: Amy Burkett, Becky Chobany

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


Coach: Tammy Wills, 18th season

Last year’s record: 4-4

Conference: Mountain League

Returners: Sophomores–Chesney Saltsgiver, Paige Webster

Newcomers: Sophomores–Laura Kohler. Freshmen–Marissa Lewis, Ella Pearson, Isabelle Wertz, Stephanie Ramsey

Strengths: “Talent, depth, work ethic.”

Concerns: “Numbers.”

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: Sophomores–Aliyah Ross, Kelsie Butler

Assistant coach: April Wheland