River’s girls squad, including Elyse Bierut, is looking to repeat
its West Shore Conference title and improve on their finish
at last year’s Division II state meet. (West Life photo by Larry
girls step up for 2010
By Jim Horvath
Published Aug. 18, 2010
As the 2010 girls cross country season approaches,
there are a number of questions that will be answered in the weeks
Will defending Division I state champion Magnificat
have to rebuild, or simply reload?
Is the young, talented group of runners at Rocky River
ready to improve on their 11th-place Division II state finish of
a year ago?
Are the Bay Rockets ready to make a run behind state
qualifier Hanna Sterle?
And can either Westlake, North Olmsted or Olmsted
Falls make their presence felt in the Southwestern Conference?
“We’ve got a solid core of girls who are fired up
and ready to go,” said Rocky River head coach Laura Brabant as she
begins her 13th season leading the program.
“They’re excited. I think they had a good, strong
training season this summer,” Brabant said. “They trained hard,
but they trained smart as well. We feel like we had a pretty good
team last year, but I think we’ll be that much stronger this season.”
Brabant’s optimism is well-founded, considering most
of her top runners are just entering their junior seasons. And Madi
Connelly, who had the team’s best showing in Columbus last fall,
is only a sophomore.
Connelly took 41st last year at state with a time
of 20:14.56. Right behind her in 44th was Maddy McDonough, a member
of that junior group who clocked in last year at 20:16.32. Also back after successful cross country and track seasons last year
are Elyse Bierut, Megan Auzenbergs and Megan O’Keefe.
But the youth movement hasn’t completely run its course
yet for the Pirates. Sophomore Anna Eversman has joined the team
this season, as has freshman Ellen Corcoran. There are also nine
seniors on the 23-member team, led by co-captains Jane Swartz and
“Ultimately, our goal is to get back to Columbus and
improve on our finish from last year,” Brabant said. “We‘ve been
invited to a number of Division I invitationals, like Earlybird
and Strongsville, so that will help us put our best foot forward.”
While River will be looked at as the favorite to win
the West Shore Conference, Brabant said Bay could be a team to look
out for. “I think they’re showing a lot of promise,” she said of
the Rockets, who are coached by two of her former runners, Danielle
Harkins and Anne Ashley.
junior Hanna Sterle will look to defend her West Shore Conference
title and make a return trip to the Division II state meet in
Columbus. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
Sterle, a junior, returns at the top of the Bay lineup
after winning titles in the WSC and district meets. Behind Sterle,
there are three experienced seniors in Megan Mohney, Samm Sanson
and Lindsay Stranahan.
There is plenty of competition for spots after that
with 38 girls gracing the team roster, according to Harkins.
“We’ve got a lot of competition and a lot of depth,”
Harkins said. “Once you get past our returning runners, there’s
going to be a whole group of them fighting for spots.”
The depth was bolstered with the addition of sophomore
Maggie Harter, who transferred to Bay from St. Joseph Academy. Also,
Harkins and Ashley have welcomed 13 freshmen into the program.
“We’re looking good, and we’re really excited about
the season,” Harkins said. “I think we’ll be up there with River
and Avon. It should be a good fight to see who can come out on top.
I think we might be able to make a run at it this season. It’ll
In their last season in the WSC, Fairview will look
for continued improvement this fall, according to veteran coach
“Our girls are young, but they’re looking to better
themselves this season,” said Friel, who will be without senior
Kayla Kazanowski due to an injury. “The team has a core of motivated
runners who want to improve not only the team’s finish, but their
own personal goals as well.”
Returning letter winners for the Warriors are senior
captain Amanda Larsen, junior Julia Lachowski and sophomore Taylor
McCluskey. Rounding out the squad are senior Claudia Taylor, junior
Molly Rehor and freshmen Emma McQuate and Shannon Kilbane.
Back out in Rocky River, cross country fans will have
their eyes on Magnificat, which lost five seniors from last year’s
state title team. Madeline Chambers, Abby and Clare Fischer, Erin
Riley and Mary Whitmore have moved on and are now running in Division
I collegiate programs.
But the cupboard isn’t bare, and some young guns are
ready to step in and prove themselves, according to Blue Streaks
head coach Anjanette Arabian Whitman.
“Our goal is to continue to be very competitive,”
Arabian Whitman said last Friday. “That’s our goal going into it.
We had a very good practice today with our theoretical top seven-eight
runners looking good so far.
“Yes, we have a lot of fresh faces this season,” she
said. “They’ve trained hard all summer and have the whole season
to bring it together. It’s an interesting mix of runners with a
really strong sophomore class.”
Kat Stultz, shown here running in last week’s Classic at Mastick,
will join Abbie Marquard as the only two runners returning from
the Blue Streaks’ state championship squad. (West Life photo
by Larry Bennet)
Two members of last year’s team, senior Kat Stultz
and junior Abbie Marquard, return to anchor this year’s team. Two
seniors, Laura Hogan and Courtney Kishbaugh, have come up from the
junior varsity, while sophomores Macey Walker and Katherine Kerr
will look to step up and make an impact.
In the SWC, Westlake has one of its biggest and deepest
teams in over a decade, according to Demons head coach Travis Haselswerdt.
“It’s also one of our youngest with just two seniors
on the team,” Haselswerdt said. “Overall, we’ve made a conscious
effort to increase our mileage significantly from the past few seasons.
So far, the girls seem to be buying into that.
“If we can stay healthy, we should be a much-improved
team that could challenge for a regional spot,” he added.
Those two seniors, Alesha Beverly and Katherine Beaton,
were both honorable mention SWC last year and will be the team’s
co-captains. The team’s top runner and team MVP, sophomore Liz Kobe,
returns along with junior Megan Duffy and sophomores Jacky Gardner
and Brittany Antognazzi.
In addition, sophomore Bridget Smik is making the
transition from soccer to cross country while freshman Grace Jenkins
is expected to be a strong contender for the team’s top spot, according
At North Olmsted, head coach Lisa Pochatek begins
her eighth season with five returning letter winners. That group
will be led by sophomore Haley Reines, the team’s top runner from
last season. Also back are seniors Melanie Trefny and Holly Veverka,
along with sophomores Becky Szabo and Amy Veverka.
“There is no doubt that Haley will continue as our
lead runner,” Pochatek said. “She was our number one runner for
every meet last year as a freshman, and she earned a spot as the
sixth all-time fastest 5K runner in the history of the program.”
Lutheran West has four letter winners back, including
its number one runner in senior Amber Voytovich. Senior Kaity Backa
is back, along with juniors Jackie Culley and Shelby Drazen. Culley
was the Longhorns’ third runner last year.
“With only two runners back from our top five of last
year, we’re counting on our newcomers to make an instant impact,”
head coach Mark Fenske said. “Fortunately, I feel we have some newcomers
who can get that done for us.”
Freshman Olivia Vasiloff will look to make an immediate
impact on the Lutheran West race-day lineup, as will former soccer
player Michelle Britton. Freshmen Larissa Reeves and Jenna Voight
will be contenders to crack the lineup as well, according to Fenske.