Purchase Line cross country program continues to grow|
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
PURCHASE LINE - Purchase Line cross country coach Sean Mack didn't know what to expect with the team's inaugural season in 2010.
As the years have gone by, both the roster and the expectations have risen drastically.
After having just six athletes out for both teams two years ago, Mack welcomes his biggest squad to date and the lofty expectations that come with it.
The boys team, which features nine runners with six earning letters, will be competitive in every meet, while the girls' squad is one runner shy of scoring in dual meets, but is experienced enough to make pushes at the invitationals and even districts and beyond.
While most of the boys' team returns intact, Mack will have to deal with the loss of top runner Bo Blose, who graduated.
"The big thing the boys were talking about was who is going to replace Bo," said Mack. "We need two or three of them to step up and take his void, and Danny Learn and Taylor Antisdel are trying to fit the bill where Bo left off. The same for Dustin Karadus.
"Between the three of them right now, I think one or all three can step up and do some good things. We have other boys that were out last year, but they didn't run track. Those three guys did and they are pretty much running year around, which is why I put a lot of expectations on them.
"Bo was a big hit, but he's only one kid. Next year we're going to need to replace four."
Learn, Antisdel and Karadus are Mack's top returnees, which also includes lettermen Jacob Crawford, Thomas Brady and Nick Rice.
Senior Nick Deyarmin and freshmen Caleb Brady and Shane Hines round out the boys' squad.
"Last year was Jake's first year and he learned a lot about running," said Mack. "He got his feet wet, and I'm curious to see how much he's done this summer. We've done some running, and only time is going to tell (what kind of season he'll have)."
The girls' team on the other hand will rely on a three-year letterman in senior Melanie Hilliard, who is really motivated, according to Mack.
Hilliard emerged as one of Mack's top track and field athletes in the spring, and the Dragons' head coach has seen that momentum carry into cross country.
"Right out of the gate, Melanie is my big one as far as getting points for cross country and track," Mack said.
"This is it for her, and it's something we've talked about the last three years.
"I expect a lot of big things from her. She finished the track season at districts by almost breaking the school record in the 800, and I think she ended the year hungry, ready to go into this season.
"I think she put a lot of expectations on herself, too. She's really using cross country as a springboard for track."
Hilliard is joined by fellow letterman Cassie McCoy, and non-letterwinners in junior Ashley Prugh and freshman Cassie Maughn on the squad.
"Psychologically, I don't think it's a huge, huge concern for the girls," said Mack of not scoring as a team in dual meets. "It'd be nice to see them score and beat another team, but we don't even get a chance whenever you don't have five.
"It comes down to the district meet and where you place overall. You have a team aspect to it, but you're still an invitational."
Purchase Line opens the season on Sept. 1 at the Big Valley Invitational.
*Jacob Crawford, Nick Deyarmin, *Dustin Karadus.
*Taylor Antisdel, *Thomas Brady, *Nick Rice.
Caleb Brady, Shane Hines.
*Cassie McCoy, Ashley Prugh.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
1-at Big Valley Invitational, Mifflin County, 9 a.m.; 8-at Forest Hills, 9:30 a.m.; 12-at Ligonier Valley with Homer-Center; 15-at Altoona Invitational, 10 a.m.; 19-at Penns Manor; 22-at Crimson Hawk Invitational, IUP, 10 a.m.; 26-at United with Blairsville-Saltsburg.
3-at Marion Center with Northern Cambria; 11-at Indiana County Invitational, IUP, 4:15 p.m.; 18-at Heritage Conference Championships, Marion Center, 4:15 p.m.; 27-at District 6 Championships, Altoona, 11 a.m.
3-at PIAA State Meet, Hershey, 9 a.m.
All meets begin at 4:30 p.m. unless noted.