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BOYS CROSS COUNTRY | A capsule look at Ashland-area high school teams

Ashland High School's Lukah Will competes in the division 1 boys race at the Ashland Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 at Freer Field. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Ashland High School's Lukah Will competes in the division 1 boys race at the Ashland Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 at Freer Field. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

ASHLAND

Coach — Cameron Johnson (third year)

Last year's league finish — Third in OCC

Returning letter winners — Seniors Lukah Will, Luke Wash; juniors Josh Bonfiglio, Andre Harrison, Brody Blough; sophomores Cameron Arbaugh, Connor Arbaugh

Letter winners lost — Two

Team differences between this season and last — “I’m looking forward to the depth we will have this year, which will make claiming the varsity positions a true competition.” - Johnson

Team strengths — “This is a close group of athletes who spend a lot of time together outside of practice. It's that closeness that I believe is one of the big strengths that we will draw on as we tackle the season.” - Johnson

Team weaknesses — “This is a group of guys who are still learning to have the mental stamina to focus on our season goals at the end of the season when it matters most.” - Johnson

League prediction — “I anticipate that we have a top-two Ohio Cardinal Conference placing team this year. Wooster and Lexington are always in contention, but [you] also cannot count out Mount Vernon or West Holmes and what they are capable of.” - Johnson

Black River High School’s Dillon Royster runs a lap of the boys 4x800 meter relay during the HealthPoint Husky Invitational at Northwestern High School Saturday, April 16, 2022. LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Black River High School’s Dillon Royster runs a lap of the boys 4x800 meter relay during the HealthPoint Husky Invitational at Northwestern High School Saturday, April 16, 2022. LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

BLACK RIVER

Coach — Patrick Brean (first year)

Last year's league finish — Second in LC8

Returning letter winners — Seniors Wyatt Royster, John Yoder, Nick Newman; juniors Dillon Royster, Nicholas Kostecki, Nathan Obarski, Christian Orgel, Blake Bruno, Jacob Bowens, Luke Bowen; sophomore Nick Obarski

Promising newcomers — Freshmen Lucas Olive, Noah Orgel, Roy Lamb, Quinn Hoelk, Kolby Manges, Kyle Vonderau

Letter winners lost — One

Team differences between this season and last — “This season, we have a very experienced group and a deeper group than we have had in a few years here. This level of depth allows us flexibility in building lineups throughout the season and when it comes to postseason racing. Last season, our boys achieved a legendary season. Now, the challenge will be what will we want act two to look like this season and how we will go about doing that. The boys stepped their summer mileage up this season and have continued to raise the bar on the level of work they are willing to put in on a daily basis.” - Brean

Team strengths — “Our depth will be one of our biggest strengths this season. We have a very nice mix of returning runners up front and young runners that are eager to go after varsity spots for this fall. We have a core group of four guys up front who should lead us in most races and a group of nine to 10 guys that will continue to battle for the remainder of the season.” - Brean

Team weaknesses — “Contentedness could be a weakness for this group if we allow it to be. When you have a season that you have never had in school history, it is sometimes hard to be willing to raise the bar for the next year. I believe we will not see that with this group after our discussions during the summer and team camp.” - Brean

League prediction — “[Our goal is to finish] first [in the Lorain County 8]. Looking at what each team is returning this season, Keystone will be our biggest challenge for the title.” - Brean

Crestview High School's Cooper Brockway competes in the division 2/3 boys race at the Ashland Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 at Freer Field. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Crestview High School's Cooper Brockway competes in the division 2/3 boys race at the Ashland Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 at Freer Field. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

CRESTVIEW

Coach — Amy McFarland (first year)

Last year's league finish — Third in FC

Returning letter winners — Senior James McPherran; sophomore Cooper Brockway

Promising newcomers — Sophomore Kaden Dickerson; freshmen Drew Spoerr, Kaden Walter

Letter winners lost — Seven

Team differences between this season and last — “We graduated six senior guys from last year’s team. [They] all were leaders and were committed to the sport and our program. This year, we are relying heavily on Cooper Brockway and James McPherran. Both have what it takes to step up and lead this team in a successful direction.” - McFarland

Team strengths — “The guys are motivated to do well. They have set goals and have put in the summer mileage in order to prepare for the season. Cooper is our No. 1 guy, and he will push the others to perform. With the addition of a few soccer players who will dual sport with us, I feel like they could surprise some people.” - McFarland

Team weaknesses — “As a team, we are in a rebuilding phase. It’s going to take time and patience to get to where we need to be.” - McFarland

League prediction — “I’m excited to see where this season takes us. I look forward to the outcome and to see how my guys will stack up against the [Firelands Conference] competition.” - McFarland

HILLSDALE

Coach — Bonnie Infante (third year)

Returning letter winners — Senior Gabe Murawski; junior Seth Crytzer

Promising newcomers — Senior Michael Telakowicz

Letter winners lost — None

Team differences between this season and last — “This year, we will not have enough runners to complete a team of five. Athletes will be looking to improve their time each race and hopefully PR by the end of season.” - Infante

Loudonville High School’s Franky Sanchez runs a lap of  the boys 4x800 meter relay at the Bob Valentine Invitational at Hillsdale High School Friday, May 6, 2022. LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Loudonville High School’s Franky Sanchez runs a lap of the boys 4x800 meter relay at the Bob Valentine Invitational at Hillsdale High School Friday, May 6, 2022. LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

LOUDONVILLE

Coach — Whitney Snyder (first year)

Returning letter winners — Sophomores Austin Cawrse, Franky Sanchez

Promising newcomers — Freshmen JJ Guilliams, Dylan Hammitt, Steven Ringler, Lettie Wenell

Letter winners lost — Three

Team differences between this season and last — “We lost a lot of experience with graduation this past year, but we have strength in numbers with our incoming runners. There are four hardworking guys who work well together, as well as with our two sophomores. They’re a young group with a lot to learn about high school races, but I know they won’t back down from the challenge.” - Snyder

Team strengths — “The guys have been putting in work this summer to build strength and consistency in their miles. I think we’ll see some of the freshmen challenging the sophomores and working together to pull each other across the line. They all want to improve on what they were able to do last year, both individually and as a team so, hopefully, we can keep everyone healthy through the season to make some progress in the postseason.” - Snyder

Mapleton's Isaiak Schoch competes at the Division III boys state cross country championship at Fortress Obetz on Nov. 6, 2021.
Mapleton's Isaiak Schoch competes at the Division III boys state cross country championship at Fortress Obetz on Nov. 6, 2021.

MAPLETON

Coach — Joe Ortiz (11th year)

Last year's record and league finish — Fourth in FC

Returning letter winners — Senior Blake Gibb; junior Isaik Schoch; sophomores Dylan Hartzler, Jay Kettering

Promising newcomers — Senior Nolan Dennison; juniors Sam Schritz, Jacob Anderson; freshmen Will Sas, Braylon Goon

Letter winners lost — Four

Team differences between this season and last — “Last season’s team was a rare and large group [of] seniors [that was] led by outstanding leadership, the core of which had been together for seventh grade through senior year. This year’s squad will maintain four of the varsity runners from last season and has a slew of new faces contending for a varsity position. There will be a lot of new runners to the team who are raw in distance running mixed in [with] seasoned veteran competitors.” - Ortiz

Team strengths — “Our team will have a couple of strong individual runners [Isaik and Blake] followed by a solid duo of sophomores [Jay and Dylan]. What has emerged over the summer is spirited competition for the five through eight spots. The team is young, energetic and willing to do what our coaching staff is asking of them. It will be fun to see how the core of the team develops as the season goes along.” - Ortiz

Team weaknesses — “The team overall is a little smaller than in previous years, so depth is a concern. We have new distance runners who will be thrust into a varsity role from the beginning. Our coaching staff is very focused on meeting the diverse training needs for the varied experience this team is composed of.” - Ortiz

League prediction — “The Firelands Conference will once again field strong teams. Our team is reloaded and energized for the upcoming season and has their eyes on being competitive among the top teams in the conference. The favorite will be St. Paul, who returns much of last year’s state-qualifying team. After St. Paul, it will be a competitive meet with New London and Crestview playing into the mix.” - Ortiz

New London's Wyatt Harrison competes in the 4x800 meter relay during the Forest Pruner Track Invitational at Crestview High School on Friday, April 22, 2022. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
New London's Wyatt Harrison competes in the 4x800 meter relay during the Forest Pruner Track Invitational at Crestview High School on Friday, April 22, 2022. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

NEW LONDON

Coach — Keith Landis (seventh year)

Last year's league finish — Second in FC

Returning letter winners — Seniors Wyatt Harrison, Elliot Stroup; juniors Mason Cowie, Jalen Randleman; sophomore Aidan Ruggles

Promising newcomers — Freshman Pressly Ferguson

Letter winners lost — Three

Team differences between this season and last — “We lost two individual state qualifiers, so that will certainly be a big change, but we have put in a solid summer of training. Our focus on consistency continues to improve, and several of our kids put in a solid track season last spring. Hopefully, that will translate to this season.” - Landis

Team strengths — “Our number one guy has had a great spring and summer, and we have some of last year’s young runners who have really stepped up their consistency this summer.” - Landis

Team weaknesses — “As with any athlete(s), the confidence to run as a team and in the style that we want to takes a lot of time to build. It remains to be seen whether we are ready to race in our own style.” - Landis

League prediction — “We certainly hope to be able to compete well at the conference championship this year. The [Firelands Conference] seems to get tougher each year, and this year will be no exception.” - Landis

Mapleton High School’s Isaik Schoch and Northwestern High School’s Kade Tegtmeier approach the finish line during the boys race of the Mapleton Cross Country Invite at Mapleton High School Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021  LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Mapleton High School’s Isaik Schoch and Northwestern High School’s Kade Tegtmeier approach the finish line during the boys race of the Mapleton Cross Country Invite at Mapleton High School Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 LIZ A. HOSFELD/FOR TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

NORTHWESTERN

Coach — Brent Martin (fifth year)

Last year's league finish — Second in WCAL

Returning letter winners — Senior Jacob Wakefield; juniors Logan Garman, Kade Tegtmeier

Promising newcomers — Senior Gabe Chupp; freshmen Payton White, Daniel Sponseller, Will Marshall

Letter winners lost — Two

Season outlook — “Kade, Jacob and Logan all had a great year last fall, and we are looking for them to lead the team again. We have several newcomers that will contribute this fall as well.” - Martin

League prediction — “Some key runners graduated for each [Wayne County Athletic League] team, so the league may be a bit more open this year. As on the girls side, I expect several state qualifiers to come from the WCAL.” - Martin

This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Season previews of area high school boys cross country teams