• Coaches: Tim Black and Brock Weaver.
• Returnees: Andy Elderbrock (Sr., three letters, second-team OCC, captain), Leif McFrederick (Sr., two letters, first-team OCC, 15:52, second-best time in school history, captain), Owen Smith (Sr., three letters, captain), Edmund Coleman (Jr., two letters, first-team OCC, 16:24), Alec Coleman (So.), Luke Gravitt (So., third-team OCC), Andrew Stump (So., first-team OCC, 16:40).
• The Skinny: The Arrows are loaded with five of their top seven back and a roster that goes 33 deep … At the OHSAA Preseason Meet at National Trail Raceway, Ashland was third behind Louisville and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and just ahead of Ohio Cardinal Conference rival Lexington in fourth … Edmund Coleman, McFrederick and Stump all placed in the top 10, running 17:01 or better … The goals are to win the OCC for the fourth time in five years, repeat as a Division I district champion, improve on a fourth-place regional finish and advance to the state meet as a team.
• Comment: “After a very strong showing in 2014 outdoor track, our team is primed and ready to go,” Black said.
Buckeye Central Bucks
• Coach: Thad Metzger.
• Returnees: Karsen Kaple (Sr.), Wyatt Kisor (Sr.), Paul Heydinger (Sr.).
• The Skinny: They’ve added new blood to the roster, and the veterans bumped up their summer mileage program … With only six runners, depth is an issue as is experience … Buckeye Central will be part of the inaugural season in the Northern 10 … Metzger hopes they can beat at least two teams in every meet and were ninth out of 11 scorers at the season-opening Northmor Invitational.
• Comment: “We hope to be in the top half of the league which would be an improvement over last year,” Metzger said.
• Coach: Carl Rittenour.
• Returnees: Hobie Cotsamire (Sr., first-team NCC), Sam VanVoorhis (Sr., first-team NCC), Paul Holdcroft (Sr.), Isaiah Johnson (So.), Kaden Wilson (So.), Bailey Plumley (So.).
• The Skinny: The Redmen return six letter winners on a roster of 14 … In the season-opening meet at Upper Sandusky, Bucyrus was seventh, as Cotsamire posted a top 10 finish.
• Comment: Rittenour hopes his team can contend for the first Northern 10 title with Seneca East and Colonel Crawford.
• Coach: Erik Kyrk.
• Returnees: Jacob Long (Jr., first-team MOAC and district, state qualifier and All-Ohioan, school record 16:02), Josh Queener (Jr.), Mike Queener (Jr.), Jared Gandelot (Sr.), Dallas Crum (So.).
• The Skinny: The Pirates have an experienced core centered around one of the area’s top runners in Long … They are also determined to prove themselves, but they need to stay healthy nine on the roster … Freshman Quinn Maceyko is Cardington’s junior high record holder and a junior high state champion … The Pirates were third behind Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Blue Division rivals Fredericktown and Highland in the Northmor Invitational earlier this week.
• Comment: Kyrk said the goal is to “improve as individuals and as a team in every meet with a final goal of qualifying a team to the state meet.”
Colonel Crawford Eagles
• Coach: Jody Grove.
• Returnees: Clay Martin (Sr., first-team NCC, state qualifier), Clay Long (Sr.,second-team NCC, regional qualifier), Jon Hoffman (Sr., second-team NCC, regional qualifier), Brad Bauer (So., first-team NCC, regional qualifier), Brandon Long (Jr., HM NCC, regional qualifier), Nick Studer (So., regional qualifier).
• The Skinny: The Eagles have one of the more experienced units in the area … They won the Crawford County, NCC and the Tiffin Carnival B race before qualifying for regionals … They will be one of the favorites for the new Northern 10 title.
• Comment: “These young men are experienced and have put in a lot of miles this summer,” Grove said. “They are really excited to start this season and accomplish the goals that they have set.”
Clear Fork Colts
• Coach: Jen Chapman.
• The Skinny: With five runners out this season, the Colts will have just enough to score team points at meets … Clear Fork competes in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.
• Comment: “We didn’t lose any runners last year and picked up a few, and there are no seniors this year,” Chapman said.
• The Skinny: The Bulldogs were 10th at the Northmor Invitational earlier this week …After repeated requests, the school did not return any preseason information.
• Coach: Kim Yost.
• Returnees: Jayson Littlefield (Jr.), Aaron Mohr (Sr., regional qualifier), Brennen Nalley (Sr., regional qualifier), Dalton Reed (Jr.), Alex Rowe (Sr., regional qualifier), Eli Sauder (Sr., regional qualifier), A.J. Trent (Sr., regional qualifier), Carson Chronister (Jr., regional qualifier), Luke Given (Jr.), Keegan Graybeal (Jr., regional qualifier).
• The Skinny: The Cougars are heavy with seniors and experienced runners, but with only one freshman out, there is concern for the future … Everyone is back from last year’s run to the regionals … The Firelands Conference will be a challenge with New London, Mapleton and Plymouth all with good units returning … The Cougars were fourth in the season-opening Richland County Cross Country Championships.
• Comment: “A.J. Trent and Alex Rowe seem poised to attain their goals and are hungry for a great season,” Yost said. “We are working toward a solid mid-season and to come on strong at the end of the year.”
• Coach: Bob Geiger.
• Returnees: Bailey Gannon (Jr., all-district), Wyatt Harmon (So., all-district), Colin Roddy (Sr., all-district), Caleb Carter (Jr., all-district), Zac Stalnaker (Jr., all-district).
• The Skinny: The Freddies were runners-up in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and Division III district champs … They want to improve on that by winning the MOAC and going to state as a team … Freshmen Trenton Whaley and Brad Wolford were All-Ohioans in junior high last season … Fredericktown won the season-opening Northmor Invitational with just 32 points as five of its seven finished in the top 10.
• Comment: “We have a lot of depth and only lose one varsity runner to graduation. We have several talented freshmen who will step up to the varsity level after a very successful junior high career,” Geiger said.
• Coach: George Guins.
• Returnees: Logan Amos (Jr., 18:24), Casey Barker (Jr., 18:15, two letters), Lucas Conner (So., 20:13), Colin McCullough (So., 18:40).
• The Skinny: The Tigers will be making the transition from the North Central Conference to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division … Guins is the longest-tenured coach in the area and said the team is a year older, but they’re still very young.
• Comment: Guins wants to see Galion improve in every meet.
Gilead Christian Eagles
• The Skinny: Gilead Christian was eighth at the season-opening Northmor Invitational. After repeated requests, the school did not return any preseason information.
• Coach: Shawn Wilhelm.
• Returnees: James Hubbard (Sr.), Josh Irvin (Sr.), Kevin Jones (Sr.), Devin Johnson (Jr.), Christian Buchholz (So.).
• The Skinny: The team is dedicating its season to Ryder Steck, a senior member of the squad who died in a car accident this summer … The Scots have been to the last two Division II regionals and want to break through with a state berth this season … Highland hopes to compete in a stacked Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this season and repeat its Blue Division title.
• Comment: “The five returning lettermen have high expectations this season, and want to take that next step and get to the state meet after back-to-back years finishing at the regional meet.” Wilhelm said.
• Coach: Denise Benson.
• Returnees: Zane Sturtz (Sr., first-team OCC, district champion, regional runner-up, fourth in state, All-Ohio), Nick Stricklen (Jr., first-team OCC and district, fifth in state, All-Ohio), Quinton Glenn (Sr., second-team OCC, state qualifier), Mitch Bastin (Sr., third-team OCC, state qualifier), Kyle Frey (Sr., third-team OCC, state qualifier).
• The Skinny: Lexington has experience back from last year’s 11th-place showing at the Division II state meet … Sturts and Stricklen are a pair of front-runners, but freshmen Ryan Johnston and Forest Volz will be asked to contribute in big ways to the varsity seven … The Minutemen ran well at the season-opening OHSAA Invitational at National Trail Raceway, site of the state meet, finishing fourth behind Ohio Cardinal Conference rival Ashland.
• Comment: “Depth is a concern,” Benson said.
• Coach: Casey Garver.
• Returnees: Tyler MacQeen (Sr., captain), Jaret Statler (So), Mike Serrato (So.).
• The Skinny: With six runners, the Redbirds will field a team this year … Freshman Abe Hemry is a newcomer to watch … The first-year coach knows they’ll work hard, but they are still a young and inexperienced squad in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.
• Comment: “Our runners are pretty consistent with each other in practice. I am hoping they will break away from that habit whenever the meet starts,” Garver said.
• Coach: Jennifer Wood.
• Returnees: Connor Pollard (Jr., first-team MBC), Isaac Boroff (So., first-team MBC), Kane Kent (So., HM MBC), Nic Switzer (So., HM MBC).
• The Skinny: The Cubs lost top runner Kyle Shindeldecker to graduation, but the group has logged more off-season miles than previous seasons … Wood said her biggest concern is staying injury-free in 2014 … The Cubs will again compete in the Mid-Buckeye Conference … They were seventh at the Northmor Invitational on Monday.
• Comment: “The varsity boys are running more as a pack and as always their competitive nature with one another is creating an environment where hard work is evident every day,” Wood said.
• Coach: Robin Myers.
• Returnees: John Marhefka (Jr., two letters), Ben Gearheart (Jr., two letters), Dawson Shambaugh (So.), Harlan Markley (Sr., two letters), Luke Gray (So.), Kyle Minard (Jr., two letters).
• The Skinny: Brad Boyer is a sophomore who will give depth to the Rams … Myers calls his squad young … They were fifth at the Richland County Cross Country Championships.
• Comment: Myers wants to see them drop their times throughout the season.
Mansfield Christian Flames
• The Skinny: The Flames were 15th in the Upper Sandusky Ice Breaker … After repeated requests, the school did not return any preseason information.
Mansfield Senior Tygers
• The Skinny: The Tygers did not have enough runners to score points as a team at the Richland County Cross Country Championships … After repeated requests, the school did not return any preseason information.
• Coach: Joe Ortiz.
• Returnees: John Smith Jr. (Jr., two letters), Kyle Dress (Jr., two letters, regional qualifier), J.J. Espy (Jr., two letters), Daniel Ritchey (So.), Eric Dillard (So.), Mark Gorsuch (Jr.).
• The Skinny: Ortiz feels he has strong front-runners, but depth is a concern and getting low points from the fourth and fifth runners will be key … The Mounties must replace two-time state qualifier Noah Cook and four-time letter winner Zack Durbin who were lost to graduation.
• Comment: The coach is hopeful his team can contend with New London and Crestview for the Firelands Conference crown.
Mount Gilead Indians
• Coach: Dennis West.
• Returnees: Tyler Beck (Sr., three letters, two-time MOAC champ, all-district, state qualifier), Ethan Hatfield (Sr., three letters), Tim Williams (Sr., two letters), Kyle Ciballi (Jr., two letters), Nick Weiss (So.), Austin Hallabrin (So.).
• The Skinny: West counts six solid runners with lots of experience returning from a team that was third in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and fifth in a Division III regional a year ago … The Indians are led by Beck who is one of the best distance runners in the area and Hallabrin is coming off an All-Ohio season in the 800 meters in track … Hallabrin won the Ice Breaker in Upper Sandusky earlier this week as the Indians were third.
• Comment: According to West, the Indians are planning on making a trip to the state meet as the pack between the first and fifth runners will be tighter this season
Northmor Golden Knights
• Coach: Mark Hunter.
• Returnees: John Pfister (Sr.), Spencer Adams (Jr.,), Ethan Chapman (So.), James Walker (So.), A.J. White (So.).
• The Skinny: With just one senior, the Knights are very young and need to gain more consistency than a year ago … They are members of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Blue Division.
• Comment: “We hope to build as the season continues,” Hunter said. “We are young. The young guys will need to step up because we lack leadership.”
• Coaches: Maureen Johnson and Sue Homan.
• Returnees: Brett Cortelletti (Sr.), Kyle Cordrey (So.), Jacob Pugh (Sr.).
• The Skinny: Cortelletti won the Richland County Cross Country Championships in a romp of the boys varsity race … The team was third in the meet … The Warriors have depth with 18 on the team, but several are new to the sport.
• Comment: “As we enter our second year in the (Northern Ohio League), the kids are familiar with the courses and the teams; we are looking forward to challenging all the team in the NOL,” Homan said.
Plymouth Big Red Vikings
• Coach: Jay Follett.
• Returnees: Matt McKenzie (Sr., three letters), Josh Reese (Sr., three letters), Daren Gies (Sr., three letters), Joey Williams (Sr.), Jacob Beckner (Jr., two letters), Austin Campo (Jr.), Nathaniel Redden (So.).
• The Skinny: Follett feels they need to stay healthy … There are no freshmen in the program this year … The Big Red were Richland County runners-up led by Gies and Beckner.
• Comment: “The boys squad is primed for a breakout season. The boys should be a great pack team this year with only 30 seconds separating the top five to six runners each meet,” Follett said, adding that they should be in the mix for a Firelands Conference trophy.
• Coach: Chris Zuercher.
• Returnees: Mitch Noel (Sr., three letters), Andy Robinson (Sr., two letters), Robert Moore (Jr., two letters), Darien Payne (Jr., two letters), Joe Emerson (Sr.), Danny Friebel (So.)
• The Skinny: The Whippets have depth with 16 runners and experience with six letter winners back … Shelby doesn’t have a dominant No. 1 so they will rely on pack racing this season with the hopes of them all cracking 18:15 … They won the Richland County Cross Country Championships for the first time since 2003 and placed six runners inside the top 12.
• Comment: “We would love to have a top three finish in the (Northern Ohio League). We would also like to be at regionals as a team. We had a nice season last year until the final two weeks at NOL (fifth) and districts (10th). we fell apart and looked like a different team,” Zuercher said.
St. Peter’s Spartans
• The Skinny: After repeated requests, the school did not return any preseason information.
Willard Crimson Flashes
• Coach: Dom Fratta.
• Returnees: Brody Deaner (Sr., first-team NOL, regional qualifier, 16:23), Brayden Mahl (Sr., second-team NOL), Keaton Moore (Sr., HM NOL), Kaden Moore (Sr., HM NOL), Seth Vipperman (Jr., HM NOL), Austin Strayer (Jr., HM NOL), Cory Barnett (Jr.).
• The Skinny: Fratta counts leadership, experience and team work among the team’s strengths as well as a roster that’s 24 deep … Willard has to avoid injuries among its pack.
• Comment: “We have everyone back,” Fratta said of a team that was 10th at Division II regionals. “Our goals are extremely high.”
• Coach: Billy Banta.
• Returnees: David Blank (Sr.), Matt Hall (Jr.), Donnie Brooks (So.), Nathan Weithman (So.), Caleb Rettig (So.)
• The Skinny: The Royals were 12th at the Upper Sandusky Ice Breaker on Monday … The team lost three to graduation.
• Comment: Banta said the goal is to make it to the Division III regionals.