Aug. 28 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College cross country teams will look to enter the 2015 campaign with new life as they aim to build on team unification to climb the conference ladder.
“Our team unity has been the strongest it has been in my tenure as coach,” commented head coach Mike Guinn, who is entering his fifth year at the helm of the programs. “The work we have been putting in during practices, really pushing each other, and striving for team success, is something that I feel will help us immensely in the new year.”
The men bring a total of ten athletes to the table for the 2015 campaign, led by returning letterwinners Ryan Donnelly (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills) and Donald Bierhals (Cabot, Pa./Knoch).
“On the men’s side, this is the purest cross country team we have had in my tenure as coach,” said Guinn of his roster. “I am looking forward to setting personal records and chasing down our team goals at the conference and regional level.”
After a one-year hiatus which he spent in the military, Donnelly, now a junior, will look to lead the Bison to new heights. As a freshman, Donnelly earned Honorable Mention All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference honors, posting a 16th-place finish at the PAC Championships. The following season, he picked up his first-career victory, winning the Bison invitational with a time of 28:06.1.
“It is a real bonus to have Donnelly back in the mix for his junior season,” said Guinn of his upperclassman. “He has already proven to be a valuable leader to the underclassmen and has come into camp ready to work. If he continues to improve, he could really compete for an individual title.”
Despite being just a sophomore, Beirhals gained valuable experience during his freshman campaign, which included setting personal bests during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“Donnie has really come a long way in a short amount of time,” commented Coach Guinn. “He started to come into his own during track season, and he has come into camp in the best shape that I have seen him in. If he stays committed, he could really bolster our top five.”
Other runners that will look to make an impact for the men’s side include returner Austin Davis (Honolulu, Hawaii/Moanalua), as well as newcomers Jordan Castro (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Leilehua), George Hypolite (St. John's, Antigua/Antigua Grammar School), Lucas Liriano (Frederick, Md./Walkersville), Marshall Murray (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills), and Alexander Michalenko (Moon Township, Pa./OLSH).
“Overall, it seems like the men have really bought into the team concept. We have a good number of guys that can vie for the top spot on our team and the way they encourage and push each other will help the team as a whole,” remarked Guinn. “With the conference being as deep as it looks on paper, having a handful of top-tier guys could make us contenders this season.”
On the women’s side, the Bison will look to a veteran-laden group, as seven of the eight athletes on the roster have at least one year of experience under their belts.
“I think our experience is really going to be a strength of ours this season,” remarked Guinn of his women’s team. “The leaders of this team have come into camp having logged solid work during the summer, and it has breathed new life into the program.”
Leading the charge in 2015 for the women’s side will be seniors Brooke Bosworth (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) and Kelsey Martz (Hedgesville, W.Va./Hedgesville). Both runners are coming off of strong track and field campaigns in 2014-15 and are looking to step up big on the cross country course this season.
“We are pretty excited about our seniors’ work ethic and their overall shape in camp,” commented Guinn. “We are a relatively small group on the women’s side, but with the proper leadership I believe that the team can be quite successful.”
Bosworth, who earned Honorable Mention All-PAC status as a freshman with a 20th-place finish at the PAC Championships in 2012, will once again look to capture that form and lead the way for the women.
“Brooke still has the potential to be an all-conference honoree,” commented Coach Guinn. “We have seen her perform at a really high level in the past and it looks like the work ethic is there for her to be able to repeat some of that success.”
Junior Michaela Ross (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Leilehua) also returns to the to the Bison women to help bolster the top five. Ross is the highest returning finisher for the Green & White from last year’s PAC Championship meet, posting a time of 26:00.01.
“I really like the potential at the top of our roster on the women’s side this season,” remarked Coach Guinn. “If our girls stay hungry and work hard all year long, we could see a few different all-conference honorees this season.”
The Bison cross country teams open their 2015 campaign at Muskingum University on Tuesday, September 1. The following week, the Green & White will host their annual Bison Invitational on Saturday, September 12 at 10:30 a.m.