INDIAN HILL – If you hear the vocal urging of “Mooooooooooove!!!” any weekend at an area park, it could be coming from 22nd-year Indian Hill High School cross country coach Susan Savage.
It’s the human equivalent of the “gun lap” for those who have scurried across fields in red and white.
Savage’s Indian Hill girls are defending Cincinnati Hills League and district champions. Returning from the top seven of that group are seniors Sabrina Bulas, Kelli Gerlinger, Sara Schwanekamp and MacKenzie Owens; junior Rhian Horton and sophomore Sydney Miles.
Horton was first-team CHL in 2013 with Bulas and Gerlinger making second team for league Coach of the Year Savage. At presstime, Horton has one of the top five times in the league.
“We have a great core returning this season,” Savage said. “We should have a successful season if we can keep everyone healthy.”
Indian Hill’s boys were second in the CHL and at the district meet last year. One of the Braves leaders is senior Wells Coalfleet, a second team all-league pick in 2013.
“He had an outstanding track season as CHL and district champion in the 800 meters,” Savage said. “He placed seventh at the regional meet.”
Joining Coalfleet are junior Trent Geyer and sophomores Ben Warstler, Patrick Giroux and Devin Heffernan.
The next meet on the agenda for both squads is the Milford Invitational Sept. 13 at Valley View Nature Preserve. The following week, Sept. 20, is the Centerville Stampede.
The Cincinnati Country Day Indians boys and girls both finished third the Miami Valley Conference meet last season. Veteran coach Merle Black will measure his teams against the league standard set by rival Summit Country Day.
“They have as good a team as any I have seen in the league in all my years coaching,” Black said. “Returning to their team this fall is the reigning state champion in the mile and they have a host of other gifted runners. Our goal is simply to keep the Summit runners within sight and for our runners to improve on their times with every meet. In the process, (they should) continue to develop what we as coaches hope is a life-long love for running.”
Senior Kaitlyn Harden is top returning runner for the girls; she doubles as a CCD soccer player as well. Sophomore Grace Pettengill switched from from soccer to cross country after a strong track season last spring.
On the boys side, sophomores Charlie Sachs and Domenick Doane had strong freshman seasons. They and senior captain Connor Wiley – in his his third season – should contend for the top spot in the lineup.
Steadily approaching 500 wins at Moeller, cross country coach Dave Prenger got his Crusaders off in style with another successful Moeller Primetime Invitational at the Golf Center at Kings Island.
Key runners for Prenger are seniors Mitch Poch and Nicholas Mendel and junior Matt DeWine.
“We have a solid top three, but our success will largely be determined by how well our other guys step up and compete,” Prenger said. “St. Xavier will be top in the league again and they have the ability to make a run for a ‘three-peat’ at State.”
Upcoming meets for Moeller include the Alliance Invitational Sept. 13 at the Miami Valley Career Tech Center and the Midwest Catholic Championships Sept. 20 at Indian Riffle Park.
The Mount Notre Dame Cougars have a new coach in James Penny II.
MND returns two captains from last year in senior Celeste Bergman and junior Madison Gentile. Other top returning runners are junior Allison Rogiers and sophomore Elizabeth Heimbuch.
One-fourth of the Cougars are juniors.
“We’re worked hard over the summer in preparation for the upcoming season,” Penny said. “MND is looking to have a successful season and finish in the top half of the city and league.”
Upcoming meets for MND are the Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann Reservoir Park Sept. 13 and the Cedarville Friendship Cross Country Invitational Sept. 20 at Cedarville College.
The Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Eagles finished sixth in the boys race at the Miami Valley Conference meet last season. The girls didn’t have enough runners to field a full squad.
Still, coach Stephen Carter has reason for optimism.
“(The season) looks good,” Carter said. “(The) team is getting faster, starting to place more frequently at meets. Rachel Haslem won the CCD Invitational and looks to have a very impressive season ahead of her.”
Haslem teams with fellow sophomore to form the core of the girls squad. Dykstra finished ninth individually in the MVC meet last season.
Junior Kirk Easterday and sophomore Alex O’Brien return for the boys team, while senior Chase Dollar and junior J.P. Pancioli are key newcomers.
Ursuline Academy head coach Rachel Bea enters her second season with a solid core of runners returning for the Lions.
State qualifier Christine Frederick graduated, but back are first-team all-Girls Greater Catholic League performers Catherine Finke and Grace Kelly, who are seniors now. Fellow senior Colleen Johnston was a second-team selection last season, as was sophomore Anna Herriott.
The Lions compete in some big events this season leading up to the GGCL meet scheduled for Oct. 11. One of the highlights on the schedule should be the Midwest Catholic Invitational Sept. 20.