WYOMING – The stable of stars will continue for Wyoming High School’s boys in cross country as Ben Stites takes on his senior year.
As a junior, Stites was the Cincinnati Hills League and district meet individual champion and earned CHL Athlete of the Year while Travis Glendenning took Coach of the Year honors. Seniors Max Hoffman and Tanner Anthony also made first team and senior Evan Cramer was second team.
Along with junior Cullen O’Brien, Stites, Hoffman, Anthony and Cramer own five of the top 10 times in the league already.
“Our boys return six of the top seven from last year’s varsity squad and the girls bring back all seven,” Glendenning said. “We have a lot of experience returning from a successful season and hope to be among the top competitors in the CHL, district and region.”
The Wyoming girls feature senior Katie Spray and sophomores Terra Forsythe and Whitley Elsass. Forsythe was CHL first team as a freshman and Elsass made second team in her first season.
The girls starting seven are all in the top 12 in the league currently with Spray and Forsythe first and second, respectively.
Both Wyoming teams compete in the Sept. 13 Eaton Invitational next at Fort St. Clair Park.
“Of course, our sport all rides on the meets in October, but a key race will be Sept. 27 as our varsity heads north for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Invitational to compete against some of the top teams from Northeast Ohio on a rugged course,” Glendenning added.
The Princeton Vikings under fifth-year head coach Bob Fritz find themselves in a flipped position.
The girls team was Greater Miami Conference runner-up, took fourth in the Division I district meet and finished 12th in the regional. However, six of the team’s top eight runners graduated, including state qualifier Lindsay Myers.
“The team is extremely young with only one senior in the top 10 runners … but also has some surprising talent,” Fritz said.
Returning are sophomores Sara Marshall and Vanessa Angeles. Juniors Olivia Rickerd and Megan Larkin join with sophomore Vanessa Cappel to form a talented trio of new runners.
The Princeton boys were eighth in the GMC last year and didn’t reach the regionals as a team. But unlike the girls, they didn’t suffer as many losses to graduation and return a senior hammer at the top of the lineup in Brandon Mullins.
Mullins is a two-time regional qualifier in cross country and state-level performer in track. He owns the third-fastest cross country time in Princeton history and won the season-opening Bob Schul Invitational Aug. 24 in West Milton.
Juniors Zack Lewis and Josh McGregor, as well as freshman Ashish Chhetry will be among those running with the senior star.
“The team is younger this year, but there are a few new runners coming out for their first year,” Fritz said. “The talent is better than last season and should see results by October.”
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.