Aug. 25—The girls are back in town.
For the first time since 2016, Cochranton cross country will sport both a girls and boys team for the 2023 season.
Cochranton has had female runners in years past, but this marks the first time a girls team has officially been able to form since Obama was in office and it's something head coach Mark Roche is excited for.
"It will great to see them get accustomed and see what the sport is all about," said Roche. "It will be a learning experience for them."
For the Cardinals, they have taken a big hit with graduating state qualifiers Chase Miller and Landon Homa leaving. Roche admits his team is not as experienced heading into 2023.
"We lost Chase Miller and Landon Homa, who were both state qualifiers last year, so a couple of our guys are going to have to move up," said Roche. "We're not as experienced as we were. Most of the kids here, they have lettered, but they have been in the back portions of the pack so they are going to have to move up this year."
2022 region runner of the year Kyler Woolstrum leads the pack for the upcoming Cardinal seniors.
"Probably our top runner is Kyler Woolstrum," said Roche. "He was an all-region runner last year and this will be his fourth year trying to go to states. He'll be a top contender not only in the region, but at the district level."
The junior class is also expected to have some internal competition for the Cardinals.
"Most of the competitive portion for the boys will be within the junior class," said Roche. "We have Andrew Albert and Trevor Shetler who both lettered last year as well as Nicolas Knapka, who is new to the program. We will be expecting them to all push each other."
Cochranton once again will race in Region 3 for both the girls and boys teams, and be pinned against Cambridge Springs, Maplewood, Saegertown and Rocky Grove.
"All the teams are usually competitive and have their top runners," said Roche. "The region is strong and that makes us strong because it makes us compete. We look forward to competing against them."
Despite a roster that has seemingly taken a step back on paper, Roche still wants his team to aim high and compete for the district title.
"I'm hoping we can compete for the (district) title. The way the schedule is, we're going to have to get off to a good start in September," said Roche.
Owen Krepps can be reached at 814-724-6370 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.