Just hit return: Several area teams bringing back plenty of key performers in 2019

Northern Bedford's Ian Zimmerman returns for his junior season. Mirror file photo

Lee Baranik is the dean of area cross country coaches, marking his 38th season at the helm of the Altoona Area High School boys cross country team this fall.

Baranik has compiled 226 career victories, and returns a solid nucleus from last season’s 4-3 team.

Altoona’s squad will be led by senior Brayden Henninger, an Altoona Mirror first-team all-star as a junior, who finished 10th in the District 6 Class 3A meet and qualified for the state meet.

“We feel that we will be one of the forces in District 6 this season,” Baranik said.

Central Cambria has several standouts returning from last year’s team that scored a perfect 12-0 record in dual meets and won the District 6 Class 2A team championship. Leading the Red Devils are seniors Ike Haycisak and Nate Kuntz, junior Adam Leichleitner and sophomore Elijah Wandle — all of whom are returning Mirror first-team all-stars.

Kuntz finished sixth in the district meet, Haycisak placed eighth, Wandle ninth and Leichleitner 11th. Junior Ethan Shuagis was also a Mirror honorable-mention selection last season.

Northern Bedford has three standouts returning from last season’s 17-1 team that won the District 5 Class 1A team championship. Current junior Ian Zimmerman won his second District 5 Class 1A individual championship last fall and earned a medal at the PIAA Class 1A state meet by placing 13th. Ian Sherlock, a senior this season, was a runner-up to Zimmerman in the District 5 meet. Both were Mirror first-team selections last year, while Connor Laird, a junior this season, was a Mirror honorable-mention selection in 2018.

Bedford’s Van May, another Mirror first-team selection in 2018, returns for his junior year after earning a medal at the PIAA Class 2A meet with a 16th-place finish. May was also a runner-up in the District 6 Class 2A meet.

Hollidaysburg has a returning Mirror first-team selection in current sophomore Ben Love, who finished 13th in the District 6 Class 3A meet last year as a freshman.

Other Mirror honorable-mention selections last year who are returning this fall include Altoona juniors Aiden Farabaugh and Jack Hatch, and sophomores Gabe Ebersole and Aidan Kelley, junior Jeremy Jones and sophomore Chris Love of Hollidaysburg and junior Lane Macy of Portage.


Coach: Lee Baranik, 38th season

Career record: 226-42

Last year’s record: 4-3

Conference: None

Returning starters: Seniors–Brayden Henninger, Liam Clyma, Aidan Rispoli. Juniors–Aiden Farabaugh, Jack Hatch, Aydan Summers. Sophomores–Gabe Ebersole, Aidan Kelley.

Other returnees: Juniors–Andrew Carini, Andy Donlan, Jason Miller. Sophomores–George Boutiller, Braeden Ferguson.

Newcomers: Juniors–Damion Finnegan. Sophomores–Cameron Crawford, Hunter Rossman. Freshmen–Patryck Webster, Connor Whysong, Maurice Williams, Eli Wisor.

Strengths: “We have a team that has experience and that should help us a lot. The runners have done their homework this summer, so we are really looking forward to the Big Valley Invitational.”

Concerns: “The front part of our schedule is really loaded with quality competition. Some of the best invites we attend happen to occur in September, so rest time is not readily available. We always worry about injuries, and the key will be to provide good workouts which will keep the runners strong.”

Overall outlook: “We feel we will be one of the forces in District 6 this season. The runners have been very dedicated to the sport, and their attitudes have been excellent. We are optimistic and anxious.”

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


Coach: Michele Fisher, 13th season

Career record: 107-77

Last year’s record: 8-5

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Senior–Jesse Chamberlain. Juniors–Devin Steele, Van May. Sophomores–Davis Crawley, Eric Jordan, Nate Stritchfield, Evan Sigel.

Newcomers: Seniors–Jacob Conrath.

Strengths: “Van May returns after an impressive sophomore year when he medaled at the Big Valley and Carlisle Invitationals, won the Saint Francis Invitational, and was the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference and District 6 tournament runner-up, as well as a state medalist. Most of the boys have significant cross country and/or track and field experience, and have set some specific goals regarding their placings at the conference and district meets.”

Concerns: “The boys lack depth, so keeping everyone healthy is going to be critical.”

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 meets.”

Assistant coaches: Brian Creps, Rachel Morningstar, Brooke Smith, Tanner Williams


Coach: Julie Roseborough, 26th season

Career record: 163-124

Last year’s record: 6-4

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning letterwinners: Juniors–Hunter Greg, Kenny Robison. Sophomores–Caedon Poe.

Other returnees: Juniors–John Sloey. Sophomores–Mike Killinger.

Newcomers: Juniors–Andy Miller. Freshmen–Ben Carr, Jayden Eckenrode, Ashton Foster, Noah Green, Tyler Maynard, Carter Rettig, Christian Sensibaugh.

Strengths: “We have good numbers. Some of our upperclassmen should have good seasons and some of the newcomers have good potential.”

Concerns: “We need some time to develop.”

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

Assistant coaches: Rhonda Mills, Jamey Rimmey

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Michael Motchenbaugh, third season

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Seniors–Isaac Repko. Juniors–Ely Blaisdell, Nathan Farabaugh, Simon Kirsch. Sophomores–Nick Smith, Johnny Weiland.

Newcomers: Freshman–David Farabaugh.

Strengths: “I have a great group of hard-working kids who strive to get better every day and encourage their teammates to do the same.”

Concerns: “Not having a varsity girls team is our only big concern for this season.”

Overall outlook: “Excited to have so many new runners this year and looking forward to see how good of a season everyone has.”

Assistant coach: None

Bishop Guilfoyle

Coach: Matt Manfred, second season

Career record: 0-10

Last year’s record: 0-10

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Seniors–Coltin Cover, Fabian Matos Machado. Juniors–Dom Cacciotti, Austin Williams.

Newcomers: Freshmen–Aaron McCulloch, Nick Nosek, Conner Ratchford, Ben Dodson.

Strengths: “We returned almost everyone from last season and are excited to see the new ninth grade men move up from the junior high distance.”

Concerns: “Every small team like us needs to be cautious of injury and overtraining.”

Overall outlook: “Our early season workouts have gone well. Starting to race will bring some focus and excitement.”

Assistant coach: Becky Merilli

Cambria Heights

Coach: John Kuskoski, 27th season

Career record: 157-216

Last year’s record: 2-13, 1-9 LHAC

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Seniors–Alex Ratay, Gabe Sheridan. Juniors–Travis Lute.

Newcomers: Juniors–Dan Hudak, Jadon Pence, Sam Snyder. Freshmen–Crist Boring, Brock Eckenrode, Nate Farabugh, Ian Hall, Zech Scott.

Strengths: “Great coachability, excellent captains, good team unity.”

Concerns: “The school’s renovation work presents some challenges as to how we train and compete. These kids have done very well in adapting to the new things they’ve been faced with.”

Overall outlook: “Our new course is slow and does not yield indications about how well these kids can run. But intuition tells me that these runners will do just fine.”

Assistant coaches: Kathryn Kuskoski, Deborah Link, Alyssa Keirn, Art Deckard


Coaches: Lacey Ceschini and Allison Caddy, second season.

Last year’s record: 4-8.

Conference: Mountain League.

Returning starters: Seniors–Lane Kocher, Dominick Minnoia. Juniors–Dylan Ceschini, Ethan Dilling, Michael James.Sophomores–Walker Eckenrode, Cayden Wright.

Newcomers: Sophomores–Tyler Biesinger, Luke Knisley. Freshmen–Tyler Biesinger, Ian Crilly.

Strengths: “We have a younger team this year, which appears to be ready to make a mark in the Mountain League. We have recruited athletes from other sports, and are conditioning on a new course.”

Concerns: “Loss of experienced seniors from last season.”

Overall outlook: “We are excited to be starting the season on a new course this year. We can’t wait to set our school and hopefully, course record and bring home some wins for Central this year. New runners have joined the team and are coming in with a drive to win. We will be striving to achieve personal records at every meet, and set new course and team records.”

Assistant coaches: Susan Keith.

Central Cambria

Coach: Randy Wilson, 20th season

Career record: 188-24

Last year’s record: 12-0, Laurel Highlands and District 6-AA team champions, 12th place in the PIAA state championship meet.

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Seniors–Zach Brandis, Isaac Haycisak, Nathan Kuntz, Danny Lazer. Juniors–Toby Cree, Brandon Dick, Tyler Gibson, Adam Lechleitner, Nathan Rozsi, Ethan Shuagis, Evan Thomas. Sophomores–Ben Grata, Robbie Lazer, Jack Soyka, Elijah Wandle.

Newcomers: Seniors–Danny Lazer. Freshmen–Brody Geis, Kayden Magulik, Devon Morgan, Aiden Lechleitner, Ben Ream.

Strengths: “Our numbers are very good this year, the largest roster in team history. I think our biggest strength is our pack running mentality.”

Concerns: “The adjustment our freshmen must undergo moving up to varsity racing distance and practice mileage.”

Overall outlook: “We are hoping that through strong pack running we can compete for a LHAC title, as well as a District 6 AA title and an improvement on last year’s finish at states.”

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

Chestnut Ridge

Coach: Jason Tew, 11th season

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Newcomers: Seniors–August Anderson, Troy Slanovich. Freshmen–Calan Bollman, Noah Leonardis, Brett Imler.

Strengths: “We have some strong runners to start the season. Calan Bollman and August Anderson will hopefully be able to get us off to a good start.”

Concerns: “With us being a new team, there is no real experience with cross country, but we have a team that is working hard.”

Overall outlook: “My only concern is making sure my kids improve as the year goes on.”

Assistant coach: Rebecca Mishler


Coach: Travis Singer, sixth season.

Career record: 17-30.

Last year’s record: 4-3.

Conference: Independent.

Returning starters: Seniors–Walt Wedel. Juniors–Jeremy Jones. Sophomores–Ben Love, Chris Love, Max Pohar.

Other returnees: Seniors–Adam Elder, Danny Evans, Gilad Evans. Juniors–Adam Diflaviano. Sophomores–Mitchell Hemminger, Shree Pericherla, Xavier Sibold.

Newcomers: Freshmen–Ben Stapelfeld.

Strengths: “This is a great group of hard-working front-runners. The leaders on our team have completely bought into the hard work that is necessary to succeed at the highest levels. Their personal and team goals are set very high.”

Concerns: “Depth. Our sixth through tenth runners need to step up to provide enough balance.”

Overall outlook: “We are very optimistic about our chances in any meet that we enter this year. This group of kids has the right mindset to run with any team in our district.”

Assistant coaches: Dave Berkheimer, Geordie Edmiston, Cassie Kachur, Janey Schwind.

Juniata Valley

Coach: Dolores Gahagan, 35th season

Last year’s record: 0-9

Conference: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: Juniors–Ethan Kern

Newcomers: Juniors–Jefferson Hill, Matt Musser. Freshman–Kade Entriken

Strengths: “We have one returning runner, Ethan Kern, who works extremely hard, and is working on being a good leader. Our three new runners are working very hard this season, and will make a big impact on our team. Junior Jefferson Hill is a very talented athlete and should compete well against the competition this season. ”

Concerns: “Our concern is a lack of numbers.”

Overall outlook: “Our hope is to continue to get stronger and more fit over the course of the season and to competitive within the ICC.”

Assistant coaches: Ruthie Hess, Krista McCrum, Maria Snyder

Moshannon Valley

Coach: Abby Houston, first season.

Newcomers: Seniors–Austin Beirlair, Nathan Murarik, Nathan Reams. Juniors–Trenton Berg, Joseph Spewock. Sophomores–Skylar Kephart, Alex Leskovansky, Austin Shoff. Freshmen–Roman Faulds, Samuel Howard, Gavyn Varner.

Strengths: “I feel that our students will push themselves to be the absolute best runners that they can be with training guidance. Even in the short time that we have had together in our first season, I have seen all my runners rise to new successes and personal bests. In addition, the students have been very encouraging to one another, and have even been meeting up on non-practice days to run together. Our team already feels like a family, which makes it even more unique. I enjoy the environment and energy that is brought to the table when we meet for practice. All of these strengths allow the athletes to feel included and to continue to strive to do their best.”

Concerns: “In our first season, my concern is inexperience, as this is a new sport for all involved.”

Overall outlook: “I feel very positive about the new program at Moshannon Valley. This is the first year for Moshannon Valley to have a cross country team. We have a brand new course that has been wonderfully mapped out. The course cuts into the woods and onto a neighboring farm. It circles around the school property and showcases the beauty of our area.”

Assistant coaches: Mike Simone.

Northern Bedford

Coach: Wayne Sherlock, third season.

Career record: 28-9.

Last year’s record: 17-1.

Conference: Inter-County Conference.

Returning starters: Seniors–Ian Sherlock, Josh Strayer. Juniors–Justin Grine, Connor Laird, Ian Zimmerman. Sophomores–Kaiden O’Neal, Jay Reed.

Newcomers: Juniors–Logan College, Ethan Hess, Hunter Horton, Andy Lazor, Dawson Rightenour. Sophomores–R.J. Gates. Freshmen–Koda Clark, Nick Strayer.

Strengths: “We have a veteran team that has gained a lot of experience over the years. Adding two runners from Tussey Mountain who both lettered last year, and the addition of the new runners from Northern Bedford, gives us great depth. The boys put a lot of miles and work in over the summer to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Concerns: “Keeping everyone healthy and peaking at the end of the season, and seeing how we react to competition at the two new invitationals this year.”

Overall outlook: “First and foremost is for everyone to show up to practice with the mindset of improving every day. If the boys do this, we should be very successful in the ICC and District 5. If all goes well, we hope to repeat as District 5 team champions, and improve on our 13th-place finish at the state meet last year. Additionally, the potential is there for several of our runners to finish in the top 25 and earn a state medal.”

Penn Cambria

Coach: Todd Niebauer, 13th season

Last year’s record: 7-4

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Seniors–Seth Hogue, Josh Lee, Wyatt Pettenatti. Juniors–Noah Lee, Reed Niebauer. Sophomores–Noah Noel, Brandt Patterson, Trey Talko.

Other returnees: Juniors–Eliah Livai, Bryce Proudfit, Zach Smithmyer. Sophomores–Donoval Cornell, Josh Platt, Sal Tiracave.

Newcomers: Seniors–Jestin Poruban. Sophomores–Mason Hogue, Nick Wirfel. Freshmen–Brody Long.

Strengths: “We have a great core of runners back, and we have seven to 10 kids who have a lot of experience in the big races.”

Concerns: “We need to stay healthy, and we need to push to improve every week if we want to compete in a tough Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.”

Overall outlook: “I expect to be very competitive. These boys will be as good as they want to be.”

Assistant coaches: Lois Smith, Kristen Talko


Coach: Jason McKenzie, fourth season

Career record: 15-20

Last year’s record: 6-7, 1-5 ML

Conference: Mountain League

Returning starters: Seniors–Josh Rea, Mat Thomas, Cole Hoover, Hunter Martin. Sophomores–Scotty Frantz.

Newcomers: Sophomores–Braeden Fenton. Freshmen–Chad Muckey, Shane Parish.

Strengths: “Our biggest strengths for both the boys and girls teams are our senior classes. Many of these athletes have been running in track or cross country since their 7th grade year. They know what it takes to be successful in this sport, and they are willing to put in the necessary work. Our seniors have also done a great job in welcoming any new kids into the fold and bringing the team together.”

Concerns: “Our schedule is once again going to be a tough one. All the schools in the Mountain League field quality teams, so every meet is going to be competitive. Our non-league meets should also prove to be challenging, but we look forward to having such a competitive and challenging schedule.”

Overall outlook: “My main goal for this season is that these kids enjoy themselves at practice and their meets. If we can create a passion for running in these athletes, I will consider it a successful season, regardless of the wins and losses.”

Assistant coaches: Renee Lanager, Andy Rea, Patrick Holoviak


Coach: Lance Hudak, fifth season

Conference: WestPAC

Returning starters: Seniors–Nathan Shaffer, Tyler Spaid. Juniors–Lane Macy. Sophomores–Erik Castel, Collan Schad.

Newcomers: Sophomores–Josh Canavan, Gavin Gouse, Tanner Trusik.

Strengths: “Attitude, commitment, work ethic.”

Concerns: “All of our varsity runners are two-sport athletes, so balancing the rigors of both cross country and either football or soccer will be difficult. The grind on their bodies will be intense this fall, so the risk of injuries is also a concern.”

Overall outlook: “With eight varsity runners out, we will be competing as a team throughout the entire season for the first time. Junior Lane Macy returns after qualifying for the PIAA state championships in Hershey in 2018. Senior Tyler Spaid just missed out on a state berth last fall and will be looking to punch his ticket in October. Energetic newcomers will add depth, giving us a solid lineup that will vie for dual meet wins and continue to improve each race.”

Assistant coaches: Amy Burkett, Bob Newlin


Coach: Tammy Wills, 19th season.

Last year’s record: 6-2.

Conference: Mountain League.

Returning starters: Seniors–Nick Light, Matt Savino. Juniors–A.J. Detwiler, Blaine Hoover, Garin Hoy, Ian Imler, Rory Quigley.

Other returnees: Juniors–Andrew Savino, Nathan Yon.

Newcomers: Juniors–Curtis Miller. Freshmen–Jordan Biller, Ian Dicken, Caleb McKinney.

Strengths: “The talent, work ethic and determination of our returning runners, along with the number and talent of the former junior high runners that will be coming up to compete in varsity this season.”

Concerns: “We are in somewhat of a rebuilding season after losing some of our key runners from the last several seasons.”

Overall outlook: “I’m looking forward to seeing what our boys team is able to accomplish. They have worked hard during the preseason, and I think this will show. It should be a very exciting season for them.”

Assistant coaches: Randy Wilson.


Coach: April Wheland, first season

League: Inter-County Conference

Returning starters: None

Newcomers: Juniors–Garrett Nicewonger. Sophomore–Cyrus Simmons. Freshman–Levi Hoover.

Strengths: “Overall positive attitudes, high academics, and willingness to put in the time to achieve personal goals.”

Overall outlook: “Looking forward to watching the new runners take on their first cross country season.”

Team goals: “To apply what they have worked on over the summer and during practice to take on any course they encounter this season.”

Assistant coaches: Lizzy Isenberg, Loc O