August 27 - BETHANY, W. Va. - Improvement is a word that can be used to describe what third year head coach Mike Guinn has done with the Bethany College cross country programs. Not only do the teams continue to improve in its times but also in the number of student-athletes that don the Bison logo on their uniforms.
“The kids continue to work hard every day and have greatly improved in my two years as head coach,” Said Guinn. “I have been fortunate to make good contacts around the area which helps with recruiting, and to bring in new kids every year.”
This year’s women’s roster will have 13 runners while the men’s team will have 14. “I really want to build this cross country program to one of the top in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference,” commented Guinn. “I continue to hit the recruiting trail trying to bring in as many kids as I can so everyone can challenge each other to get better every day.”
The women’s team finished ninth at the PAC championships last season, but are poised to make a run this season to improve their place in the standings with having only have lost one runner who was consistently in the top seven.
Replacing Gabrielle Bonazzo, who was a fixture in the top five last season, will be a tough task but the Bison seem to have ability to fill that hole.
Junior Brooke Bosworth (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) returns as the Bison’s top performer from last season. Bosworth earned Honorable Mention All-PAC after finishing 20th at the conference championships.
“Brooke was an All-Conference runner for us last season,” said Guinn. “This season we are looking to see big things from her, and for her to continue improving every day.”
Among the other returners that will vie for a spot in the top five runners are juniors Jessica Olsen (Moon, Pa./Moon) and Rhianna Petrone (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan). Olsen had a successful sophomore season which was capped off by a 40th place finish at the conference championships last season.
“Jess and Rhianna both trained really hard this summer and it showed when they arrived for camp this year,” commented Guinn. “We expect both to have another great season this year and improve their times.”
Two incoming freshman, Michaela Ross (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Ceilehua) and Ashley Worst (Cuba, N.Y./Apollo-Ridge) have been brought in by coach Guinn to compete for spots in the top seven.
Guinn had this to say about the two freshman runners: “Michaela and Ashley both came into preseason in great shape. Both had very successful high school careers and both will compete for a spot in the top seven runners this season.”
Top returners for the men’s cross country team include sophomore Ryan Donnelly (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills) and junior Cory Yarrington (Berkeley Springs, W.Va./Berkeley Springs).
Donnelly was very impressive in his first year on the Bison cross country team, as he earned Honorable Mention All-PAC after taking 16th place at the conference championships.
“Donnelly continues to set the bar higher and higher not only for his teammates but for himself.” Guinn said about his sophomore all-conference runner. “He continues to work hard every day in practice and even though he is just a sophomore, has become a great leader on and off the course.”
Yarrington, a two-time All-PAC runner, returns after having missed most of last year due to an injury. However, he looks to be recovered and poised to have a big season for the Bison.
“We are very happy to have Cody back and healthy once again. He continues to round into form and will help push the team to a higher finish,” commented Guinn.
The Bison will have to replace two runners that were in the top five the majority of last season, but six new freshmen have been brought in to fill the void left by the departed.
“We have brought in a great freshmen class that will provide depth for the team but will also push the upperclassmen to get better and improve every day.”
The Bison will compete at six events this season before heading to the PAC Championships on Nov. 2 which will be held in Pittsburgh. The teams will host the Bethany Invitational on Sept. 7 with the women running a 6k at 10:30 a.m. and the men running an 8k at 11:30 a.m.