The Penns Valley girls’ cross country team had a fairly successful 2013, and would not mind duplicating that success, or even surpassing it, this fall.
The Rams began the season with a second-place finish at the Big Valley Invitational, added a second a the Forest Hills Invitational, won the Mountain League regular-season and meet titles and finished third at the District 6 Class A Championship.
Despite a change in coaches, the Lady Rams are aiming to duplicate, or surpass, that success.
And they were not the only team that enjoyed the fall of 2013, with State College also running to some big finishes. Bellefonte sent a runner to the PIAA Class AA Championships.
Penns Valley (7-0) saw three runners graduate from its successful team.
Lynda Federinko takes over the Lady Rams program this fall from Carly Lynch after several seasons leading Penns Valley’s track and field program. Her team brings back most of its top-scoring runners from a group that was undefeated and grabbed the Mountain League title last fall, including Alyssa Limbaugh and Mackenzie Wenrick, who ran at the PIAA Championships.
“The strength of the girls’ team is that five of the top seven from last year are returning and looking to improve upon what was accomplished last season,” Federinko said. “The girls have all come to preseason motivated and have set their sights on working to make the trip to Hershey in November as a team.”
State College (2-5) had a deceiving record last season, with the top runners not taking part in every meet as other girls earned experience in Mid Penn dual meets.
They were ready for the postseason, however, winning the district title and taking 13th at the PIAA meet. However, many of those girls have graduated, and the extra meet work last season will provide key experience for the team this fall.
The Lady Little Lions have much to replace from a talented roster, with three girls having departed to Division I programs. Larissa Burka placed 50th in the PIAA meet, while Natasha Fedkina had a strong track season in the spring, winning a PIAA medal with the 3,200-meter relay team. Among the newcomers is Rachel Wylie, who captured seventh place in the 100-meter hurdles at the PIAA track meet.
“This season marks a definite new era for us,” coach Rebecca Donaghue said. “We lost more top seniors from last season than in the past several years. Our squad has a lot of new faces but they’re ambitious and ready to stamp their own identity on the team. We have a lot of question marks when you look at the roster but we have a lot of young ladies who have the desire to answer those questions.”
Bellefonte (3-3) has a small team but returns some quality runners, led by Anya Hoaglund. The junior placed third in the Mountain League meet, eighth in the District 5-6 Class AA Championships to earn a ticket to Hershey, where she placed 133rd in the PIAA meet.
“She is working hard to move her racing to the next level,” coach Kim Gasper said of Hoaglund.
Gasper the key will be to keep her team healthy throughout the season.
“We are a small team, but capable of making our presence known in the Mountain League,” Gasper said. “Our girls trained over the summer and have shown improvement in handling the preseason workouts. We are looking to build confidence and consistency throughout the season which will solidify team unity and improved times/places.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (1-9) is looking to be a factor this fall.
St. Joseph’s will be competing in Class A this season after running in Class AA the last two years. Joining the team is Jordan Wiser, a transfer from Tyrone who qualified for the PIAA meet last season. After running with the team last season, Liz McNitt will serve as an assistant coach this fall.
“(We are) looking to build off of the progress we made last season as Grace (Cousins) set the bar high for our team to follow,” coach Jayson Jackson said. “The combination of our returning letterwinners and key newcomers will take the program to new heights.”
Philipsburg-Osceola (6-7) is expecting improvement this season.
With only one runner lost to graduation from a team that finished just below .500, the Lady Mounties are expecting more success this fall.
“We only lost one girl from last year, so hopefully with the gained experience of the other runners, I am hoping to see improvements on last year's season,” coach Heather Sagaities said. “We have some new runners that will help the team and I am hoping to see constant improvements as the season progresses.”
Bald Eagle Area (0-8) has had an influx of athletes this fall, and the team is sporting a decent amount of depth with a dozen runners on the roster.
Maddie Cingle, Rylee Butler, Haley Giedroc, Haley Furrow and Julia Cingle all will pull double-duty, also playing soccer this fall. Maddie Cingle also was a Mountain League all-star last season.
“(We are) looking to be competitive in the (Mountain) League,” coach Jeff Jodon said.