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Reporter-Area Cross Country: North Penn girls, La Salle boys looking strong in 2017

Runners take off at the start of cross country meet at North Penn on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

With two of the top three finishers from last year’s Suburban One League Continental race returning this fall, the North Penn girls have a tough pack to crack.

Those two seniors — Ariana Gardizy and Olivia Dyer — lead the way for the defending conference champs, with plenty of competition on their heels.

“CB East and CB West will be the two strongest teams in our conference this year with Pennridge, Souderton, and CB South also in the mix,” said Knights coach Jim Crawford Jr., in his 43rd year guiding the program. “We have a lot of experience, but must remain injury free in order to have a chance.

“We have some newcomers with potential, who, we hope, will contribute to our team effort as the season progresses. Only four of the top 10 individual finishers from the 2016 Continental Conference Championship race return this year, but that includes the first three finishers in the race — Ariana (first), Souderton’s Emily Bonaventure (second), Olivia — and four in the top 10 — CB East’s Cameron Billingsley was eighth.”

In a stacked conference, the Bucks will also be tough to beat.

“Expectations remain high and the outlook is positive,” coach Kiki Bell said. “The girls’ work ethic over the summer has been evident in these early practices and our goal is to stay healthy and focused while having a lot of fun.”

Another team that has set high standards year after year is the La Salle boys, beasts of the Philadelphia Catholic League and a states contender every season.

“We’ve used our depth and tight spreads to finish in the top five in the state the last two years,” coach Greg Bielecki said. “The challenge this year if we are to take the next step, is can we slide our guys up into challenging for state medals. “(Evan) Addison is ready for a big year, but who will step up behind him and how close can the rest of the pack stay? If the team stays committed to the process it should be a fun and exciting year.”

North Penn’s Ariana Gardizy finishes first in the cross country meet with visiting Pennridge on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Dock is always a team to be counted on when the big races come around in late October.

“We have a lot of returning four-year runners so there is plenty of experience,” Pioneers coach Justin Feil said. “We also have a nice group of new runners this year that will help add depth to the program. We will need our pack to improve steadily throughout the season to contend for BAL and District 1 championships.”

Methacton may be on the brink of something in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.

“After coming off a fourth-place finish in the conference, the boys team looks to improve,” Warriors coach Steve Savitz said. “The team is young and fast led my sophomore Matt Varghese. Matt finished the season running a 16:36 as a freshman at districts and has been working hard ever since.

“He is followed by a strong varsity team containing Tommy Chimes, Garrett Campbell, Myles Hovan, Garrett McPhillips, Will Rebert, Sean Ritchie and Jack Kapralick, who all have the ability to break 17 minutes this year. The team is practicing hard and will make an impression this year.”

Meanwhile there’s something brewing over at Lansdale Catholic.

“It is exciting to have such a young team to work with, coupled with a few quality-character upper classmen that we have at LC,” coach Matt Connelly said. “This will be a refreshing new start for our program. The goal for this season will be to get our younger runners adjusted to the high school distance and the accompanying training to be successful.

“We have three new invitationals this year, to look forward to for the season. We’ll open the season at the Bulldog Invitational in Media, followed by Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey. Our third invite will be at William Tennent. These meets will give our team some exposure to races that will get us ready for the post season, with the goal of getting as many kids to earn a trip to states.”

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Here are some other area teams to watch this season:

BOYS
Abington Friends
Coach: Kyle Rankin (second season).
Last year’s record: 1-4 Friends Schools League.
Key returners: Chase Balick, Jr.; Toby Avery, So.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “We’ve made enormous strides over the past 18 months — AFS athletes have combined to establish 13 school records. The boys team is going to be very young and inexperienced. I don’t anticipate having any seniors on the boys team. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on building our program with an eye on the future. There will be ups and downs just as there were last year but I am excited about where we are heading.”

Central Bucks West
Coach: Greg Wetzel (ninth season)
Last year’s record: 6-0; SOL Continental Champs; third in District 1-3A; Ninth at States
Key performers lost: Alec Hofer; Brian Mass; Teagan Fortna; Mark McClenahan
Key returners: Michael Samson, Sr.; Ben Bunch, Sr.; Carter Laatsch, Jr.; Brian Baker, Sr.; Nick Gillespie, Jr.
Others to watch: Butchy Peralta, Jr.; Jason Gilvary, Jr.
Coach’s outlook: “We hope to earn a conference championship and advance to states as a team for the fourth consecutive year.”

Dock Mennonite
Coach: Justin Feil (third season).
Last year’s record: 3-8; second in BAL; second in District 1-A.
Key performers lost: Tim Kennel.
Key returners: Isaiah Denlinger, Sr.; Ian Anderson, Sr.; Christopher Keach, Sr.; Steven Seachrist, Jr.; Addison Schweizerhof, Jr.; Bobby Hadden, Jr.
Others to watch: Jonathan Anderson, So.; Sean Robinson, Fr.; Josh Bauman, Fr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “We hope to improve on last year’s times. We have a larger team than last year and hopefully that means more in-team competition that will push us to better times. The BAL and district both have stiff competition again with some of the top teams also returning much of their talent.”

Dock Mennonite’s Isaiah Denlinger during a cross country meet on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Germantown Academy
Coach: Peter Jennings (11th season).
Last year’s record: 3-3; fourth in Inter-Ac; fifth at PAISAA states.
Key performers lost: Owen Ritz (Dartmouth); Peter Butler (Loyola); Ale Gonzalez (NYU); LeRoy Moser; Gavin Rees; Charlie Jobin
Key returners: Matt Sandifer, So.; Danny Ritz, Jr.; Kevin Lamb, Jr.; Nick DiBello, Sr.; Bradford Azizi, Sr.
Others to watch: Max Fralic, Sr.; Oliver Haddow, Sr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “We lost six of last year’s top seven to graduation. This year we will be looking for our experienced upper classmen to take big steps forward. We are fortunate to have a great bunch of committed guys who like working hard, so it will be a fun season watching them continue to improve together.”

Hatboro-Horsham
Coach: D.J. Fromal (first season).
Last year’s record: 5-1 SOL American; second in conference.
Key performers lost: Johnny Metzgar; Brendan Quinn.
Key returners: Jared Bixler, Sr.; Gio Cerisier, Sr.; Dylan Hontz, Jr.; Kyle Hontz, Jr.
Others to watch: Ngianni Cerisier, So.; Devon Comber, Fr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “With a first-year head coach, we only have three seniors on the team. With a relatively inexperienced coach and team, we will have to learn quickly to stay near the top of the conference. One of the team goals is to have at least five runners break 17 minutes for the 5K race. If we can meet that goal, we will be competitive in the league. Our gap between runner one and five could be small if the guys work together during our workouts.”

La Salle
Coach: Greg Bielecki (11th season).
Last year’s record: PCL Champions; PIAA District XII Champions; fifth in PIAA-3A.
Key performers lost: Steve Paul; Brendan Price; Quinn O’Neill; Greg Galbreath.
Key returners: Evan Addison, Sr.; Vince Twomey, So.; Ethan Maher, So.; Sean Egan, Sr.; Matt Zilligen, Jr.; Jack Seiberlich, Jr.
Others to watch: Brady Koors, So.; Griffin Pumilia, So.; Dan Gervino, So.; Conor Christian, Sr.
Outlook for the season: La Salle has a solid group that should once again challenge for the league and district crowns, as well as a high finish in Hershey.

Lansdale Catholic
Coach: Matt Connelly (second season).
Key performers lost: Pat Burhnam; Andrew Danielson.
Key returners: Joe Hughs, Sr.
Outlook for the season: The Crusaders will tackle some tough invites this fall that should really provide good experience for a young squad.

Lower Moreland
Coach: Dick Rapson (49th season).
Last year’s record: 4-10.
Key performers lost: Tim McCreesh.
Key returners: Shane Cohen, Jr.; Connor McFadden, Jr.; Len Sassaman, So.; Ben Zonshayn, So.
Others to watch: Brandon Mutchnik, So.
Outlook for the season: A .500 season is within reach for this young squad, all dependent on how the juniors and sophomores perform.

Methacton
Coach: Steve Savitz (12th season).
Last year’s record: 2-3; fourth in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Key performers lost: Nick DeFillippis; Jacob Brycki.
Key returners: Matt Varghee, So.
Others to watch: Tommy Chimes, Jr.; Garrett Campbell, Jr.; Garrett McPhillips, Jr.; Sean Ritchie, Jr.; Will Rebert, Jr.; Jack Kapralick, So.​
Outlook for the season: The Warriors could be challenging for a top-three spot in the conference.

North Penn
Coach: Mike Werner (ninth season).
Last year’s record: 7-4; 3-3 SOL Continental.
Key performers lost: Hank Hoffman; Zach Thomas.
Key returners: Brendan O’Toole, Sr.; Colin Grace, Sr.; Nick Cataldi, Jr.; Brian Johnson, Jr.; Noah Demis, So.; Dylan Reid, So.
Others to watch: Tristan Misko, Sr.; Erik Kull, So.; David Baik, Jr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “This team has a great blend of veteran and rookie runners that create an intriguing mix heading into a very tough Continental Conference.”

North Penn’s Brendan O’Toole during a cross country meet on Monday, August 28, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Pennridge
Coach: Terry Permar (22nd season).
Last year’s record: 1-5 SOL Continental.
Key performers lost: Andrew Saville; Jared Pleibel.
Key returners: Matt Eissler Jr.; Ethan Saville So.; Gunnar Orth, Jr.
Others to watch: Matt Vaders, So.; Tom Geiger, Jr.; Cole Doster, Jr.; Andrew Reice, Fr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “This team is working really hard and has already dropped a lot of time from last year, whether that is enough and translates to more wins in a tough Continental conference remains to be seen. An early hit is the loss of our numbe-two runner, Luke Eissler, out for the season with a stress fracture.”

Souderton
Coach: John Donahue (18th season).
Last year’s record: 8-2.
Key performers lost: Connor McMeniman; Joe Breen; Michael Greve.
Key returners: Paul Boehm, Jr.; Josiah Moyer, Jr.; Connor Williams, Jr.; Brian Bruno, Jr.; Tommy Greve, Jr.
Others to watch: Sam Kaufman, Sr.; Evan Marrone, Sr.; Kyle Ryan, Sr.; Tim Kennel, Sr.; Jake Lavely, Jr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “It will be tough to replace Connor and Joe, however, a core group of guys remain, hoping to keep us near the top in an extremely tough conference.”

Springfield-Montco
Coach: Niara Woods (second season).
Key returners: Christian Donahue, Sr.; Jason Needhamer, Jr.; David Scott, Jr.; Ben Rittenhouse, Jr.; Jackson Campbell, So.; Owen Kitchener, Sr.; Shaun Burrell, Sr.
Others to watch: Teddy Baughan, So.; Jake Calley, Sr.; Simon McDowell, So.
Outlook for the season: The Spartans expect to see improvement with times and make it to states.

Upper Moreland
Coach: Mark Mullelly (first season).
Last years record: 1-5.
Key returners: Kyle Murphy; Chris Stewart; Shane Coll; Connor Hurst.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “With the addition of Kyle Murphy and the core from last year’s varsity team entirely intact, the team will be looking to improve upon their conference record and place at Champs.”

Wissahickon
Coach: Bill Gallagher (35th season)
Last year’s record: 5-3; 4-2 SOL American
Key performers lost: Randy Schwemmer and Cameron Christopher
Key returners: Ben Hoyer, Sr.; Matt Maiale, Sr.; Nathan Leung, Sr.; Sam Klugherz, Sr.; Josh Chaiken, So.; Ahmed Shamsi, Jr.
Others to watch: Aiden Marcelis, Sr.; Michael Licata, So.; Zac Dallal, Fr.
Coach’s outlook: “This season we have great senior leadership and a positive attitude that should lead to an interesting season.”

GIRLS
Abington Friends
Coach: Kyle Rankin (second season).
Last year’s record: 2-3 Friends Schools League.
Key returners: Madison Tillmann, Sr.
Others to watch: Cara Tressider, Sr.; Charly Avril, Fr.
Outlook for the season: Tillman should lead the way, having earned All-League honors last fall and she won five dual meets during the season, her first year running cross country.

Central Bucks West
Coach: Kiki Bell (17th season).
Last year’s record: 6-0 SOL Continental; second at SOL Continental’s.
Key performers lost: Megan Kolbe (William & Mary); Olivia Lafferty; Ashley Lafferty.
Key returners: Katie Jenkinson, Jr.; Piper Wilson, So.; Vanessa Barrow, Sr.; Erin Chinnici, Sr.; Grace Kolbe, So.; Sonia Ritzmann, Sr.
Others to watch: Emmi Simon, Fr.; Julia Flood, Fr.; Francie Ebert; Jackie Ebert, Fr.
Outlook for the season: The Bucks should again be right in the thick of things for conference supremacy.

Dock Mennonite
Coach: Justin Feil (third season).
Last year’s record: 4-7; 4-4 BAL, BAL Champions; second in District 1-A.
Key performers lost: Camryn McCloskey (York College); Alana Bergey; Juliana Rotelle; Lael Flores; Abigail Keller
Key returners: Erica Gunden, Sr.
Others to watch: Isa Rodriguez, Fr.; Sarah Kennel, Fr.; Abbie Woods, Sr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “With only one full-time returner, we are hoping to stay healthy and have enough to compete as a team at the BAL and District 1A Championships. We have a great four-year runner in Erica Gunden, who always improves as the season goes along, and two promising freshmen. Abbie Woods will be a big addition while balancing playing tennis. Depth will be a question with a small group, but they work hard. We would love to contend for the BAL Championship again, but that will be a challenge without as much depth as we have had. The District Champion returns and they will be a target that should push us to improve. We hope to better our times consistently through the season.”

Dock’s Sara Kennel during a cross country meet on Monday, August 28, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Germantown Academy
Coach: Judy Krouse (30th season).
Last year’s record: 8-0; Inter-Ac Champs; PAISAA Champs.
Key performers lost: Abbe Goldstein (Harvard).
Key returners: Jackie DeRusso, Sr.; Anna Hennessy, Sr.; Kelsey O’Hara, Sr.; Isabelle Goldstein, So.; Gianna Murgia, So.; Sydney Sciascia, Sr.
Others to watch: Katie Sands, So.; Gabriela Manosis, So.; Charlotte Rapp, Jr.; Zoe Torrey, Jr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “Losing Abbe Goldstein is a big loss, but we return four of last year’s top five and have some promising newcomers. I expect good competition from Penn Charter, Notre Dame and Episcopal within the InterAc league.”

Gwynedd Mercy Academy
Coach: Larry Wilson (39th season)
Last year: Seventh in District 1-2A
Key performers lost: Emily Webster; Sarah Waddington
Key returners: Gina Boccuti, Jr.; Erin Dougherty, Sr.; Paige Angelus, Sr.; Chloe Thum, So.
Outlook for the season: The Monarchs come into the fall an experienced group, returning four of their top five from last fall.

Lansdale Catholic
Coach: Matt Connelly (second season)
Last year: PIAA State Qualifier.
Key performers lost: Kayla Connelly
Key returners: Sara Murphy, Jr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “We are a young team, comprised mostly of freshman. This year’s team is the youngest team that we’ve had in the past five years.”

Methacton
Coach: Steve Mahan (35th season)
Last year: Seventh in the Pioneer Athletic Conference
Key performers lost: Ryan DeOrio

Key returners: Sarah Nicoletti, Sr.; Anna Price, Sr.; Julia Malachowski, Jr.; Becky Sobeck, Jr.; Olivia Leber, Jr.; Carly Ukalovic, So.; Maddy Ziegler, So.
Others to watch: Julia Foley, Sr.; Mira Erzhanova, Sr.; Maura Duffy, Sr.; Mia Sheldon, So.; Maya Leber, Fr.
Coach’s outlook: “This is a hard working team that has put some miles on during the summer runs. They have been dedicated to their training during the preseason part of the schedule. The PAC Liberty Division is stacked with PV, OJR, Spring-Ford and Boyertown to race against. We hope to develop some mental toughness and make our opponents race when they meet us out on the course.”

Mount St. Joseph
Coach: Kitty McClernand.
Last year’s record: 3-4 (fourth at AACA Championships).
Key performers lost: Kelly Ward.
Key returners: Jen DeGroat, Sr.; Jade Killion, Sr.; Mollie Mullen, Sr.; Megan Ciasullo, Jr.; Lauren Ehnow, So.; Maeve Gallagher, So.; Kylie McGovern, So.; Erin Shea Mirabella, So.; Jean Reilly, Sr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “Feeling optimistic this season. The girls went to PSU XC Camp this summer and are energized and ready for the season.”

North Penn
Coach: Jim Crawford Jr. (43rd season).
Last year’s record: 8-3; 4-2 SOL Continental; Conference Champs; Fourth District 1-3A; Fifth at PIAA’s.
Key performers lost: Mikaela Vlasic; Devon Stella; Kate Sullivan; Lauren Follis.
Key returners: Ariana Gardizy, Sr.; Olivia Dyer, Sr.; Maeve Gimbert, Jr.; Jenna Webb, Jr.; Lauren Matulevich, Sr.
Others to watch: Clare Dentner, Sr.; Ximena Trejo-Mora, Sr.
Outlook for the season: The Knights are in good position to defend their conference title and make it back to Hershey.

Souderton’s Emily Bonaventure takes the lead during the Indians’ cross country meet with Plymouth Whitemarsh, Dock Mennonite and Hatboro-Horsham on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Pennridge
Coach: Bill Smith (12th season)
Last year’s record: 3-3; fourth place SOL Continental
Key performers lost: Monika Brill; Margot Brill; Carly Musco; Madison Polson; Juliet Ryan
Key returners: Nicole DeHaven, Sr.; Brena Harling, Sr.; Kayla Horn, So.; Shea McGowan, Sr.; Melena Musgrove, Jr.; Carissa Reinold, Sr.; Clair Sneed, So.
Others to watch: Ashley Gordon, Fr.; Megan Pauly, Sr.; Bell Musgrove, Fr.
Coach’s outlook: “We lost a lot due to graduation. Lacking in experience. Will have to see how we improve throughout the season.”

Souderton
Coach: David Klein (first season)
Last year’s record: 1-6 SOL Continental
Key performers lost: Ellie Kohler
Key returners: Emily Bonaventure, Sr.; Rosy Moody, Sr.; Brittany Hayden, Sr.; Kristie Scott, Jr.; Ashley Schlosser, So.
Others to watch: Lael Flores, Jr.
Coach’s outlook for the season: “We have a lot of potential to make some noise this season, and ultimately hope to have a strong finish at districts.”

Springfield-Montco
Coach: Niara Woods (second season)
Key performers lost: Sydni Stovall; Katherine Nelson
Key returners: Meghan Leibfreid, Sr.; Emily Cooney, Jr.; Alanna Kelly, Sr.; Sophia Hepner, Sr.
Others to watch: Teddy Baughan, So.; Jake Calley, Sr.; Simon McDowell, So.
Outlook for the season: The Spartans expect to see improvement with times and make it to states.

Upper Moreland
Coach: Mark Mullelly (first season)
Last year’s record: 1-4 SOL American
Key returners: Mary Thompson; Victoria Leister; Jillian Kelly; Ashley Choi; Jenna Painter
Coach’s outlook for the season: “Although the team is small, a core group of varsity runners has put in a lot of work this summer and are expecting to compete well with the rest of the American Conference.”

Wissahickon
Coach: Heidi Butt (10th season)
Last year: Third in SOL American
Key returners: Hayley Ross, Sr.; Katie Harbold, Jr.; Ainsley Olszewski, So.; Lieke Black, Jr.; Sara Brooks, Jr.
Outlook: The Trojans return their entire top five last year and should be a force in the American.

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