Clearfield harriers hope to build on 2012 season|
Thursday, August 29, 2013
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
HYDE - With just seven letterwinners back this season, Clearfield head coach John Jacob will rely on those core runners to help 2013 become successful.
The Lady Bison will try to repeat as Mountain League champs, while the Bison hope to get up over the .500 mark.
The girls have four runners back with juniors Emily Aveni and Kristi Fox, as well as sophomores Claire Mikesell and Macy Forrest back this season.
"On the girls side, we have a very strong core coming back with Mikesell, Fox, Aveni and Forrest," said Jacob. "They bring a lot of experience and leadership back to the team. Claire Mikesell has spent a lot of time over the summer putting in a lot of miles and we can already see a vast improvement from last year.
"With graduation, we have a couple of holes that need filled. Coach (Todd) Winters and I are very optimistic about the way our practices have been progressing."
The boys have three letterwinners back this year in seniors Matt McKenzie and Kyle Thompson and sophomore Josiah McClarren.
"We return (Thompson), McClarren and McKenzie," said Jacob. "In addition, our younger runners are starting to fill in the spots left open by graduation.
"The summer workouts have really helped this group transition into the official season. The time this group put into the off season has already put them into midseason form."
The team does have numbers in the sophomore and freshmen classes, with a total of 15 runners.
"We have a good group of freshman girls that will help to fill some voids left by graduation," said Jacob. "Niki Chew, Hunter Gathagan, Shaina McBride and Raeleigh Redden will definitely help.
"We look to have these girls help us in the very first dual meet. Sophomore Emily Hoover had a key role in some of our victories last year. We are looking for her to improve and move into one of our scoring positions this year."
The girls team, which had some key seniors last season, has just one this year in Jill Heichel.
That will mean that Jacob will need to see leadership from underclassmen as well.
"Claire Mikesell has really matured as a runner and leader on the girls' team," Jacob said. "She made a huge step from her freshman to sophomore year. Her talent is now being matched by her work ethic in practice. Talent and hard work are a deadly combination in any sport.
"Emily Aveni, Kristi Fox and Macy Forrest have already started a competition for the girls number two position in practice. The competition in practice is going to start to pay off when they compete against other teams."
The boys will rely on several of its seniors and sophomores to help get them through the season.
"They will rely on a more experienced group to move into spots left by our graduating seniors," said Jacob. "Kyle Thompson, Jake Ryan, Malav Patel and Logan Gilbert have already shown in practice they have the ability to make us a competitive boys' team. This will give freshman David McKenzie a chance to develop and start to compete with some of the more experienced runners.
"Alec Freeman is going to run a limited schedule this season as he tries to balance soccer and cross country. When Alec is running, he is going to challenge for the lead in almost any race. The summer miles have transformed him into ultracompetitive runner. I am looking forward to see his hard work pay off."
The goals for the teams continue to be putting a team on the course that continues to improve from last year.
"Our goal this season is to build on what we developed last year," Jacob said. "The boys were one win away from a winning season last year and I believe they have the talent and dedication to progress above just a winning season.
"The girls had an outstanding season. They were Mountain League champions, placed second at the district championships and sent three individuals to states. We have already talked about what has to happen to repeat as Mountain League champions and how to be more competitive at the district championships. It will take extra effort to make it happen but I believe the talent is there."
Clearfield has a tough schedule ahead of it, competing in three tri-meets and three invitiationals, sandwiched around a dual meet schedule of Mountain League opponents.
Those invites serve to help each runner concentrate on improving their times.
"We use the invitational meets to help us improve more as individual runners," Jacob said. "The overall all team place in these events is not as important as the times.
"The experience that our runners come back with prepares them to compete in our dual and tri-meets. This makes us a stronger team in preparation for the championships at the end of the season."
Jacob continues to push his team and hopes to see years of work with the program pay off.
"Coach Winters and I have added to the cross country program every year and the runners are really starting to buy into our system," he said. "Each year, we see individual runners improve and our teams have more success. We believe this tradition is the key making us a successful team for years to come."
Clearfield kicks off the season at the Big Valley Invitational on Saturday at the Mifflin County High School.
Matthew Bell, Alec Freeman, *Matthew McKenzie, Jacob Ryan, *Kyle Thompson.
Matthew Beichner, Logan Gilbert, *Josiah McClarren, Malav Patel, Tyler Pike.
*Emily Aveni, *Kristi Fox.
*Macy Forrest, Rachel Glenny, Rebecca Glenny, Emily Hoover, *Claire Mikesell.
Nikol Chew, Hunter Gathagan, Shaina McBride, Raeleigh Redden.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
31-at Big Valley Invitational, Mifflin County High School, 9:30 a.m.
10-Bellefonte and Philipsburg-Osceola; 13-at Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, Penn State; 16-at Central Mountain with Central; 19-Hollidaysburg; 24-Bald Eagle Area and Tyrone.
1-Penns Valley; 5-at Ridgway Cross Country Invitational, 10 a.m.; 16-at Mountain League Championship Meet, Penns Valley, TBA.
All meets begin at 4 p.m. unless noted.